How about the manufacture of LED lights in the USA

LED & climate protection

LED - a small step for us, a big measure for the world climate

The global demand for energy is growing inexorably. The In its World Energy Outlook from 2014, the international energy agency IEA forecast an increase of 37% by 2040 - the year in which the demand for fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal is expected to reach its highest level.

The problem: we live well beyond our means. Consumption of natural resources for Food, housing, mobility and consumption have exceeded the earth's biocapacity since the mid-1980s. So for 30 years we have been doing business at the expense of the next generations. If all people had a luscious lifestyle like in Europe, we would need the capacity of 2.5 earths for that. We but only have this one planet and, realistically speaking, nothing will change that quickly. The departure into space is still a long time coming.


Life needs energy

In physics, energy is defined as the ability to perform mechanical work, give off heat or emit light. It occurs in very different forms, for example as electrical, thermal, chemical or magnetic energy, light energy or nuclear energy.

Energy determines our life. Not only do technical devices consume energy, it is also absolutely necessary for biological life. The physical unit of energy, the joule, is therefore found on every food packaging. It has replaced the calories that are still used in everyday life. We give our body the energy it needs by ingesting food.

The law of conservation of energy in physics states that energy is never lost in closed systems. But if that is the case, why are we talking about energy consumption at all? Why do we have to worry about our energy balance?


Energy is converted, but also devalued

Energy can be converted from one form to another. This is basically a good thing because it allows us to use solar energy from geological prehistory today. Millions of years ago, the thermal energy of the sun turned the decomposition products of dead plants and animals into coal, oil, gas and peat. They store solar energy in chemical form. In a power plant, the chemical energy of fossil materials is converted back into thermal energy through combustion and finally into electrical energy with a generator. It is easier with a solar cell that generates electricity from today's sunlight without a fossil intermediate carrier. A car with an electric motor converts electricity into kinetic energy.

But not all converted forms of energy can be used by us. If a vehicle is braked, kinetic energy, i.e. kinetic energy, is converted to a large extent into heat - the brakes get hot. If the car hits a wall instead of braking, we experience deformation energy. The energy is thus devalued. The so-called process of energy generation, or better said energy conversion, does not go completely as desired. A coal-fired power plant usually has an efficiency of only 30 to 40%, which can only be increased by using the waste heat through combined heat and power if there are customers for district heating in the vicinity of the power plant and according to the season. Gas power plants work more efficiently and also use the waste heat more frequently.

Let's take a closer look at the incandescent lamp under the aspect of energy conservation. Hopefully you have never tried to measure the amount of heat emitted by a lightbulb by touching it. You will certainly have burned your fingers, because the incandescent lamp emits 95% of the electrical energy it absorbs as heat - i.e. radiation in the infrared range. Only 5% is visible light, which we actually want. We will come back to this important aspect in connection with the LED.

So efficiency is a really big issue when it comes to limiting energy consumption. Colored energy labels are just a start. An EU directive regulates the framework, and a National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NAPE) in Germany gives companies in all sectors market-based incentives to invest in electricity efficiency. The higher the savings, the more funding euros flow. Until 2018, the STEP up! 300 million euros are available, which are awarded in two annual tendering rounds.


Renewable energies are becoming number one in electricity production

The enormous importance of electrical energy for our everyday life is also directly related to the conversion of various forms of energy. On the one hand, electrical energy can be produced relatively easily - even if, as we have seen, often inefficiently - from other forms of energy. More importantly, it is easy to transport itself and, for example, can be converted into light, power and heat on site. The possibilities of storing electrical energy have also made significant advances in recent years.

First, let's take a look at the origin of electrical energy. Although we know that the deposits are finite, the fossil fuels oil, gas and coal are still growing at rates. The The international energy agency IEA assumes an increase in global oil consumption to 104 million barrels per day (!) In 2040. And nuclear energy is also on the advance. Four countries are responsible for a total increase of 60%: China, India, North Korea and Russia. At first glance, nuclear energy is environmentally friendly and conserves resources. The traditionally nuclear-friendly IEA argues that nuclear power saves people from CO2- Four years output. On the other hand, the question of nuclear contaminated sites and, more importantly, the fundamental controllability of the technology are controversial. Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown us that the consequences of an extremely unlikely accident are unpredictable. Such a risk, no matter how small, cannot be accepted by a responsible energy policy, especially not in densely populated areas.

The good news from the World Energy Outlook: the use of renewable energies for electricity production is on the advance. Wind power in particular, but also hydropower and solar energy, are growing rapidly in the energy mix and will have overtaken coal as the most widely used energy source by 2040. We already saw that every fossil form of energy originated from solar energy. It is obvious that direct use of the sun is economically and ecologically more beneficial than the detour via burning fossils. The distribution and storage of electricity remains a challenge. In Germany, there is currently a discussion about the SuedLink, a high-voltage road that is supposed to transport wind energy generated in the north to the south.


Watt has nothing to do with brightness

Electric motors, electric heaters, lamps and a multitude of other electronic devices convert electrical energy into other forms such as force or speed, heat and light. In a physically correct way, we have to speak of electrical work here instead of energy. The known unit for this is watt. If you want to know exactly: the unit for energy, joule, is nothing more than a watt-second. One joule is therefore consumed when one watt of work is done for one second. One kilowatt hour, which you know from the electricity meter, corresponds to 1000 watts x 3600 seconds = 3.6 million joules.

In the case of incandescent lamps, the power consumption in watts has become a standard as a measure of brightness - wrongly, as we now know. The 60-watt bulb consumes 60 watt-hours, or 216 kilojoules, in one hour, but, as we saw above, only 5% or 3 watts of that becomes visible light. 57 watts are distributed as heat in the room, this portion of the energy is lost for us. Sustainability looks different, and that is precisely why the age of the incandescent lamp has come to an end around 140 years after Edison's patent. For comparison: the luminous efficacy, i.e. the ratio of luminous flux to power consumption, is around seven times as high with LEDs. Since LEDs are less warm, the risk of fire is also lower.


Sustainability secures the future

You return home late from work, are hungry, but discover that your family has not kept your supper for you. Really annoying when there are no more supplies in the house and the shops are already closed - and even seriously threatening when you know that the shops have been bought empty and will no longer open. Exactly this example describes the way in which we deal with the biocapacity of our world today. To stay in the picture, our grandchildren will find an empty refrigerator.

Two million tons of climate-damaging CO2 are blown into the atmosphere in Germany - every day. Statistically speaking, every German fills two Olympic swimming pools with the greenhouse gas every year. It takes eighty fully grown trees to generate one ton of CO2 to tie. Did we want our CO2Compensate for emissions, our country would soon be a primeval forest. But if we don't do that, the concentration of CO increases2 in the atmosphere. Short-wave sun rays penetrate the earth's surface, they are converted into long-wave radiation, which can be caused by the CO2 no longer back.

Global warming leads to rising sea levels, melting glaciers, shifting of vegetation zones and more frequent weather disasters such as storms, floods and drought. Even if man-made climate changes are overlaid by long-term natural cycles, no serious scientist will dispute the direct and indirect effects on human health, agriculture and politics. Today we are concerned with war refugees - tomorrow it will be environmental refugees who are driven from their previous habitats by the rise of the sea or by water scarcity. Economic damage is forecast at 5 to 20% of the global gross national product. The consequences can be roughly estimated if you look at the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Is It Already Too Late To Repent? No, say scientists, and they substantiate their claim with computer models. However, we must act quickly and radically. In order to limit global warming to 2 ° C, a third of the known deposits of fossil fuels would have to stay where it is - in the ground. In the case of coal, even 80% remained untouched. Sustainability in the sense of stability and natural regenerative capacity of the earth system has not yet been achieved. At the very least, however, our economic activity does not ultimately obstruct the chances of future generations to have a world worth living in.


LEDs reduce the ecological footprint tremendously

There is no doubt about the need to massively limit the hunger for energy, especially in industrialized and emerging countries, and to convert electricity generation to climate-friendly concepts. But can some lightbulbs replaced by LED really save the world?

Studies show that the savings effects are misjudged even by large consumers such as cities and municipalities. Around the world, lighting applications account for almost 20% of electricity consumption, with the largest proportion being incandescent lamps, halogen lamps and fluorescent tubes, which also include so-called energy-saving lamps. Market-ready alternatives are available for all of these illuminants, which save up to 90% of the energy.

If you want to compare the efficiency of different light sources, the brightness in relation to the power consumption is a suitable parameter. The brightness is measured as luminous flux in lumens (lm), i.e. the ratio is expressed in lumens per watt (lm / W). A 60 watt light bulb generates approx. 700 lumens of luminous flux, so the light output is 700 lm divided by 60 W = 12 lm / W. More is possible, for example in projection lamps, but that shortens their lifespan. Compact fluorescent tubes, the so-called energy-saving lamps, significantly improve the yield to around 50 lm / W, but they have serious disadvantages. The use of mercury vapor in particular causes problems with disposal and harbors health risks in the event of breakage. An LED light source generates 700 lumens of luminous flux from just 8 watts of electrical work - the yield is almost 90 lm / W, around seven times as high as that of a light bulb. To put it the other way round: You save around 85% of the burden on the environment and save yourself the corresponding consumption costs. Electricity prices that have been rising for years are therefore very easily overcompensated. The better environmental balance of the LED lamps due to their long service life is not even included here. Depending on the LED, this is an average of between 15,000 and 25,000 operating hours. This number is calculated in such a way that half of the tested LED lamps still emit at least 70% of the original luminous flux at the end of this time. Individual LEDs last for 50,000 hours and are also robust, vibration-proof and break-proof. The sensitive light bulb, on the other hand, only lasts about 1000 hours, even under favorable external conditions.

Jong Kyu Kim and E. Fred Schubert, who have been researching the field of LED lighting technology for many years, stated in a 2008 study for the Optical Society of America OSA: a gradual replacement of conventional light sources with LEDs over ten years could be more than ten Gigatons - 10,000,000,000 tons - CO2-Avoid emissions and save more than $ 1 trillion. One trillion is a number with twelve zeros. For Germany alone, serious calculations assume a reduction in the climate killer CO2 by 13 million tons.

Let's keep it with Confucius: Even the longest journey begins with the first step. Do you still heat your apartment with lightbulbs, or do you already have LEDs? The contribution of each individual is important and can help to prevent the climate catastrophe.