As the nation embraces energy efficiency in its shift toward green power, the role of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as an alternative to conventional light sources has also come into the spotlight. However, like so many other sources of clean power, cost is a major obstacle.

Recognizing the potential of LEDs, the federal government has announced a major commitment to help address this problem.

Focusing on the manufacturing process, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the availability of up to $10 million in funding for energy-saving lighting technologies. Specifically, the DOE will invest in projects to help accelerate manufacturing research and development related to solid-state lighting (SSL) technologies, which are used in LEDs and organic LEDs (OLEDs).

The intent of the funding is to create jobs by strengthening the nation’s role as a global manufacturing leader in the SSL industry.

According to the DOE, LEDs and OLEDs are potentially 10 times more efficient than incandescent lighting and could cut U.S. lighting energy usage by one-quarter by the year 2030. This would translate into a savings of $15 billion and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To help the industry achieve its potential, the DOE is seeking applications for research and development projects to drive down the cost and improve the quality of SSL products through manufacturing improvements. Between two and four projects will be selected to receive up to $10 million. Projects will be selected with an emphasis on achieving significant cost reductions through improvements in manufacturing equipment, processes or monitoring techniques.

This is the third round of funding directed toward SSL research and development program area. Contractors should monitor SSL news, as this product category is changing rapidly.