India's Big Idea: Changing the Light Bulbs

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Cost is one of the main factors restricting the proliferation of CFLs in India. Photo: Oyssia, Wikimedia Commons

Question: How many citizens of India does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: 400 million of them, and once they’re all done, the future could look a whole lot brighter.

As Earth and Industry reports, a plan has been announced for the Indian government to spearhead the replacement of 400 million old-school, incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs.

CFLs offer dramatic energy efficiency improvements, but are significantly more expensive, which has so far prevented their widespread adoption in India.

Working in collaboration with regional electric utilities, the government is mobilizing the resources necessary for making the substitutions happen on such a wide and impressive scale.

And when you add up the savings, bulb-by-bulb, and keep on adding until you get to 400 million, the energy savings are impressive. Assuming an average 60-watt incandescent bulb is being replaced with an average 15 watt CFL, the nationwide swap out of bulbs will save 6000 mega watts (MW) of electricity.

As India relies primarily on coal for power generation, the change will save 4200 MW of specifically coal-fired electricity, contributing to the nation’s strategies for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Story by David Bois, originally published May 10, 2010 on Tonic

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