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Ujala LED conversion scheme on target, street light program lags

Government of India’s Ujala LED light conversion program has got off to a good start, but the equivalent program for public lighting is lagging behind, going by data from the power ministry.

The two programs were launched two years ago and are expected to be complete by 2019.

With almost half the prescribed time over, the domestic-lighting-focused Ujala scheme has achieved around 27% of its target of replacing 770 mln incandescent lights with LED lamps.

As of Feb 6, 206 mln lamps were disbursed under the scheme. Moreover, the pace of implementation is accelerating. A year ago, in March 2016, the scheme had achieved 74.7 mln replacements.

However, its equivalent scheme for public lights — Street Lighting National Programme — has managed to replace only 1.68 mln lights out of the targeted 35 mln, an achievement of less than 5% as of this month. A year ago, it had completed replacements of 207,000 lamps.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

The schemes have two targets — reducing green house gas emissions and saving power.

Replacing a single incandescent light with an LED lamp is expected to save about 10.7 units of electricity per month. At Rs 5 per unit, a single lamp switched to LED will save its owner around Rs 53.50 per month, or almost Rs 2,000 over the expected three-year life of the device. Compared to this, the total cost of the 7-watt lamp is only around Rs 200.

These savings multiply when taken on a national level. For example, the total savings from the replacement of 770 mln lamps is estimated at about 8.23 bln units per month or Rs 4,100 cr per month.

The shift would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Target of India’s Street Light National Program

According to power ministry’s statistics, the production of a single unit of electricity, also known as 1 kiloWatthour, releases about 1.23 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in India.

Given that the program will save 8.23 bln units of power per month, that translates to reducing India’s carbon dioxide emissions by over 10 bln kg, or 10 mln tonnes, per month. Each person switching reduces his or her carbon dioxide footprint by 13 kg per month.

It should be noted that the savings will be far less when migrating from a florescent lamp to an LED. Here, power consumption will be reduced by 50%, and not 88% as in case of incandescent bulbs.

As such, the savings will be reduced to Rs 12 per month, or Rs 432 over the three-year life of the device. Moreover, the average life of a CFL device is only 1 year — one third that of an LED lamp, while it costs almost half of an LED lamp, according to government estimates (see chart on top).

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