The Real Low-Carbon Economy 'Disruptor'

When people think of the low-carbon economy and the multiple technologies in place that are fueling the growth of green, it is likely that most of them would point to wind and solar as the two most significant and influential drivers of the trend.

Not so, according to a new report from Goldman Sachs, "The New Energy Landscape: The Future of Clean Energy." Their pick: LEDs, which they identify as "one of the fastest technology shifts in human history."

"With almost three billion lamps sold globally, LEDs will this year be on par with compact fluorescent lights at 28 percent of the global lighting market, up from 1 percent of global lamp sales in 2010," the report states.

By 2020, according to Goldman Sachs, LEDs will make up 69 percent of lighting sales, and almost 100 percent by 2025, up from almost nothing in 2010.

"By 2020, our analysts estimate that LEDs will dominate the market with over two-thirds of market share and 61 percent of the installed base," the report states. "On current trends, nine out of ten lightbulbs in 2025 will be LEDs."

Today, according to Goldman Sachs, LEDs are able to cut electricity consumption by over 85 percent compared to incandescent lamps and around 40 percent compared to fluorescent lights.

Furthermore, according to Goldman Sachs, lighting output per unit of electricity could as much as double in the coming decade, making the technology an increasingly attractive option for off-grid applications (which will likely be powered by renewables).

The growth of LED popularity has been supported by regulation, with many countries phasing out incandescent bulbs completely. In addition, as LED prices continue to decrease, they are now price-competitive with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). In fact, earlier this year, General Electric announced it would discontinue the production of CFLs.

Finally, with the technology available to network and control LEDs, as well as integrate additional sensoring, LEDs are likely to become the backbone of smart homes, smart buildings and even smart cities.

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