Follow us on:

Home >  news >  Light News

Chips, solar LEDs to shape India’s power management story

BANGALORE: Streetlights in the city of Tilburgin Europe can detect the presence of approaching pedestrians and vehicles and ramp up the brightness in front and behind the person/vehicle as they pass by. The streetlights automatically dim when there is no one in the street. 

This technology, called LumiMotion, developed by Philips, uses sensors to make streetlights power efficient and cut carbon imprint. According to Indranil Goswami, head (controls), Philips Lighting India , "different kinds of sensors have been developed for intelligent public lighting management systems.Photocells detect the presence of sunlight and turn on and off lights. This alone can save up to 10% energy because of the difference in sunrise and sunset times in summer and winter," says Goswami. 

He says the company has aggressive plans to deploy technologies like this in India, reflecting a global trend where chips are playing a vital role in power management. "Lighting is a power hungry field, taking up about 20% of the world's electricity. 

A lot of current is needed to light the arc. But if you control how the arc is lit, about 25% of the power intake can be cut," says Warren East, the global CEO of ARM. Chips based on ARM design, which are found in 95% of the smartphones, are now being used in streetlighting, healthcare gadgets and even by farmers, because of its power efficient design. 
While the global lighting majors are flooding the market with smart lighting solutions, India presents unique challenges as many pockets of the country are still in the dark, many areas lie in off-Grid zones and the use of power efficient lighting solutions like LEDs are still in the nascent stages. Indian scientists have started indigenously producing LED chips which run on solar energy, which does not depend on the central grid, is low-cost , can deliver high luminosity and is made of eco-friendly organic material. 

It looks like LEDs are going to have a big role in shaping India's power management story. But the indigenously developed LED chips are likely to take 3-4 years to reach the market. India may have had a late start in developing power-efficient lighting solutions , but this can also turn to be its advantage. Indian scientists can couple the best of both worlds by using indigenous LED chips and embedding them with sensors to make smart lighting solutions and ensure better reduction of carbon footprint. 

India's late start
Two labs under CSIR (CSIR-CEERI and CSIR-NPL ) are collaborating on a project called the 'Development of Solid State Lighting Devices/Systems: Inorganic LEDs' under 12th Five Year Plan Programme. The first phase of the project, 'Fabrication of LED Devices and Systems for Solid State Lighting Application' is already done in the 11th Five Year Plan Programme, says Dr Chenna Dhanavantri, Chief Scientist, Optoelectronic Devices Group, CSIR-CEERI, Pilani. 

"We have developed blue LEDs (in the 460-475 nm range) which have been coated with phosphor to get white light. This is the first indigenously made LED chip in India," he says. "We have now entered the second phase of this project where solar energy is used to power LED chips. LED chips which emit 25 lumens per watt are being produced now," he says. 
Lumens per watt is the light a bulb emits per watt of electricity consumed. An incandescent bulb can emit just 10-15 lumens per watt while an LED lamp can emit 50-100 lumens per watt. Elaborating on this, Dr Swaminathan Sivaram, CSIR Bhatnagar Fellow, National Chemical Laboratory, says it is easy to link LEDs with solar energy. "LEDs take up very little power. Hence, simple solar panels are enough to light them up," he says. 

"Not very luminous lights are needed in India," he explains, and with solar power, even the most remote village which is away from the Grid can get electricity" . "The focus of this CSIR project is bring out low-cost , high-luminous lights to cater to Indian domestic needs, especially in rural areas," he says. "We are playing around with the different variables and trying to identify niche opportunities," he adds. "We are not very confident of providing high luminosity bulbs at this stage," he says. 

Power efficient chips
Even as India is looking to solar sources and LED chips to cut energy use, global lighting majors are betting big on power efficient chips. For instance, in the UK, some streetlights are fitted with chips which can sense motion. When they are switched on at dusk, their brightness levels are just 20-30 %, as the sensors inside can detect the presence of the fading sun rays. 

'Enlight', the company which has installed these streetlights, claims 45% of power consumption has been reduced because of these chips. This has been enabled by chips based on ARM design. If the same technology were to be used in Indian streetlights, which consume around 7,753GWh of power per year, emission of 1.9 million tonnes of carbon can be cut annually. 

"As the tech landscape moves from mobile computing now to machine-to-machine communication expected by 2016 to the internet of things expected by 2020, chips are likely to turn vital power controllers," says ARM's East. "With future gadgets going to be increasingly cloud-oriented and with over 4 billion internet connected devices expected by 2016, more and more designs which are power efficient needs to be in," says East, speaking about how extensively power-efficient designs are now being sought after by diverse industries like lighting and medical technologies. 

ARM has been seeing a rise in their non-mobile sales. "Non-mobile sales have accounted for 50% of ARM's revenue last quarter," says East. Around 2 billion devices with ARM chips were shipped last quarter, he says. This tricky task of notching up the power efficiency of chips and at the same time making them operate on low power, is the same challenge that the company faces in the mobile computing field. Infact, according to East, the ICT sector takes up 10% of the world's power. 

But to handle computing data which is likely to touch 120 exabytes by 2020 (about eight times more than today), calls for a lot of innovation on the chip design. In the next 30 years, computing power may increase by a factor of 30. If battery is efficient by a factor of 2, the smartphone designs have to be such that very little power is used up," explains East. ARM's latest series of chips (the Cortex A50 series) can offer roughly twice the performance. These processors deliver up to three times the performance of today's smartphones and extends this experience to entry-level smartphones. "We are at a point where chip designs akin to Ferrari engines would have to be designed to fire the Ford Fiestas," says East.

pdf download mp3 download

Solar system and solar panels:
Solar system and solar panels:
Solar light system and garden light: