Industry and consumer interest in energy-efficient lighting as well as improvements in performance and color temperature control appear to be contributing to market growth in high-brightness light-emitting diodes (HB LEDs).
The global market for HB LEDs is expected to grow by 12% this year, double its rate during a "slow growth" phase in 2004 to 2006, according to Bob Steele, director of optoelectronics at Strategies Unlimited (Mountain View, CA) and a solid-state lighting expert.
The market grew by 9.5% in 2007 to reach $4.6 billion in sales, with mobile appliances such as cell phones accounting for a 44% share of the market, Steele notes.
The sign and displays, automotive, and general illumination sectors grew at the highest rates last year, and Steele believes that signs and displays will eventually overtake the mobile appliance sector as the top application for solid-state lighting. He projects that the market for sign and display lighting using HB LEDs will increase from 17% of the market in 2007 to 44% in 2012.
HB LEDs have captured a healthy market position in indicator lights for automotive, signage, small electronics, and other color-changing applications as well as for flashlights and auto headlamps. LEDs have virtually "taken over the flashlight world," he says.
And although HB LEDs are increasingly being used for illumination in residential, retail, municipal, and general indoor and outdoor lighting applications, Steele says the penetration of LEDs into the general illumination market is still at an early stage.
"The vast majority of general illumination applications require white light, and markets will begin to accelerate when white HB LED fixtures begin to offer energy savings relative to the use of conventional light sources," Steele says.
With efficiencies for white HB LEDs now exceeding 100 lumens per watt, Steele predicts the total HB LED market will reach $11.4 billion in 2012, with the illumination segment accounting for $1.4 billion.
Quality and Volume
Illumination applications have taken advantage of the long lifetimes of LEDs and the high brightness and efficiencies available from red, green, and blue LEDs compared to filtered incandescent lamps and neon, according to Steele.
The predicted growth in solid-state lighting assumes that manufacturers will continue to make progress in winning consumer acceptance of HB LEDs for general illumination by lowering their costs and proving HB LED's energy efficiencies and durability.
Steele notes that companies such as Nichia, which was first in the market in 1994, Philips Lumileds, OSRAM, and Cree are investing heavily in HB LEDs, and some government programs in Europe, Korea, Japan and the United States are fostering standardization and other advancements in this area. The U.S. Department of Energy has several programs to accelerate research and development and create standards in solid-state lighting. See LED Landscape article.
The highest performing and most energy efficient HB LEDs are coming from the U.S., Europe, and Japan, according to Steele, while Taiwan and China lead in volume.
China has become the world's largest supplier of LED light fixtures, producing 70 percent of the global output, according to a Research and Markets report. China exported an estimated $1 billion in LED fixtures in 2007, accounting for one-third of China's total shipments of spotlights, electric lamps, Christmas lights, and other lighting products.
The market is also getting a boost from huge LED displays in high-profile locations such as the Shanghai Stadium where the 2007 Special Olympics were held in October and the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium where the 2008 Games will be played in August.
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