In a study on the live-cycle assessment (LCA) of light-emitting diode (LED) lamps by Osram Opto Semiconductors, the latest generation scores very high for environmental friendliness. This study took a close look at the entire life cycle of LEDs, including how much energy and raw materials the lamp consumes in terms of production, and use and disposal. The conclusion was that today’s LEDs achieve the LCA values of compact-fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and are superior to conventional incandescent lamps.

In the first LCA, Osram showed that LED lamps are a genuine alternative to incandescent lamps, even considering the cumulative energy input and environmental factors.

Often, these fundamentally different lamps are compared based on their wattage. Conventional lamps with filaments consume more energy than LED lamps. A 40-watt (W) incandescent lamp, for example, can either be replaced by an 8W CFL or, for some applications, by an 8W LED lamp, which means energy savings of 80 percent.

To guarantee the comparability of results in the LCA, a lifetime of 25,000 hours was chosen as reference. The latest LED lamp generation achieves precisely this rating. Therefore, 25 incandescent lamps with a lifetime of 1,000 hours and 2.5 fluorescent lamps lasting 10,000 hours were used in the lamp comparison.

The study shows that, similar to CFLs with LED-based lamps, more than 98 percent of the energy used is consumed to generate light. Less than 2 percent is allocated to production. This dismisses any concern that manufacturing of LED particularly might be very energy-intensive. In contrast to the primary energy consumption of incandescent lamps of around 3,300 kilowatt-hours, LEDs use less than 700 kWh. Apart from LEDs being more efficient than incandescent lamps, the ratings that indicate the lamps’ effects on the environment are consistently better than those for incandescent lamps. As the efficiency of LEDs continues to increase, LED lamps will be capable of achieving even better LCA results in the future.