LED makers urge DoE for more support

September 12, 2012 - A delegation of stakeholders in LED manufacturing have met with US Department of Energy officials to plead their case for increased support in solid-state lighting (SSL) R&D and manufacturing, with their key message that SSL offers greater energy conservation and return-on-investments (ROI) than renewable energy technologies that get much more backing.

Pushing for the added US backing is a delegation of SEMI members and other industry stakeholders with origins in the FALCON Lighting Consortium, led by Philips Lumileds and SEMI members Applied Materials, Veeco, KLA-Tencor, Ultratech, and others (SEMI’s broad roster includes major suppliers of LED equipment and materials). FALCON and SEMI have emphasized increased DOE support for domestic SSL development and especially manufacturing. US LED manufacturing received over $23M in grants in several areas (metrology, lithography, and deposition R&D) under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Funding has been reduced since then, but the groups claim lobbying efforts have restored and increased funding levels above what the DoE submitted to appropriations subcommittees.

In August of this year the groups met with US DoE Assistant Secretary of Energy David Danielson and his senior staff, their first such meeting in recent years. The key message was that energy conservation achieved through SSL can have a greater impact on US energy than renewable energy technologies which currently get government investments (and a lot more of it). The group calculates SSL can deliver 4.0-6.0 quads of annual energy savings for a 10-20× higher ROI than other energy investment alternatives.

"According to the Energy Information Administration [EIA], on a dollar-per-unit of-production basis, the level of subsidies received by the wind and solar industries were almost 100 times greater than those for conventional energy," stated Richard Solarz, senior director of technology at KLA-Tencor and Randy Moorhead, VP for government relations at Philips Electronics, co-leaders of the group advocating for greater DOE support for SSL.

"We believe that it is generally understood that conventional energy conservation — specifically lighting — efforts are under-supported."

SEMI added that it hopes the meeting will help secure support for SSL beyond its funding levels of the past four years, despite the obvious and formidable pressures on national budgets. "Despite the austerity mood in Washington, SEMI is confident that increased budget requests for LED-based lighting technologies will receive considerable bicameral and bipartisan support in the legislative branch during upcoming legislative sessions," the group stated.

*US EIA 2009 Annual Energy Review, ref. in each cell
** January 27, 2012 DOE est. 4.0 quads, FALCON estimate against current usage 6.0 quads

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