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5 December 2001 White LEDs for lighting remote communities in developing countries
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Over the past 5 years, the application of white LEDs for ambient lighting has been investigated in the remote villages of Nepal. Currently, lighting is often met using kerosene wick lamps, which emit unhealthy levels of fumes, or by burning sap-filled pine sticks, which are worse than the kerosene lamps. A team of students from Calgary University developed some LED lamps that could easily be fabricated in Nepal using local materials and personnel. To generate power, a pedal DC generator was developed to charge batteries, as well as a simple wind turbine. The Nepal Light Project implemented a series of many projects over the last 2 years in several villages across Nepal, using several different power generating systems. A total of 142 households, two schools and a temple were fitted with lamps in 2000, and more will follow in 2001. A research project has also been undertaken in Nepal for the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to investigate the potential for energy efficient lamps in the micro hydro industry. The R&D project was very small, and conducted basic testing on locally available compact fluorescent lamps and LED lamps. The report concluded that encouraging the use of CFLs would decrease costs by 30-50%, and that they should be included in the subsidy policy, along with power factor correcting capacitors. LED lamps should not be overly encouraged as the development of the diodes was advancing very rapidly. The real advantage of LED lamps lies in extremely low maintenance costs due to the low power requirements and long life, which is just as important for remote villages as it is for traffic lights and exit signs. It is estimated that these low ongoing costs could be as low as $3/household/year for a rural lighting project. Pilot projects should be encouraged to demonstrate and investigate the potential of WLEDs for lighting in remote communities in developing countries. With 2 billion people without access to electricity, and lighting being the first end use people generally require, the potential for white LEDs is nothing short of staggering, but they will face challenges similar to CFL technology due to the high initial cost of the lamps.
© (2001) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Stewart Craine and Dave Irvine-Halliday "White LEDs for lighting remote communities in developing countries", Proc. SPIE 4445, Solid State Lighting and Displays, (5 December 2001);

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