India orders 770 million LED light bulbs, prices drop 83 per cent

Subsidised bulbs sold for US$1.28, cuts peak load by 2,346 MW

Shri Piyush Goyal, India's minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy yesterday celebrated the fact that in just 20 months the price of LED lightbulbs has fallen from 310 rupees (US$4.68) to 54.9 rupees ($0.84), an 83 per cent plunge that is partly India's fault.

In early 2015 the nation adopted a policy called the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP), which sees the nation acquire LED lightbulbs for subsidised sale to households. Prime minister Narendra Modhi is a big backer of the plan, which plans to reduce India's energy consumption. That's a desirable outcome because plenty of India is still not electrified: if the nation uses less juice it can connect more communities to the grid without investing in quite so much generation capacity. The government is therefore pleased to report peak electricity demand is already down by 2,346 MW.

Modhi also reckons householders won't mind lower power bills and has made the scheme plank of India's plan to reduce CO2 emissions. That LEDs last longer than incandescent bulbs doesn't hurt either. Throw in the fact that India's roads and railways are so challenged that the nation is reviving river transport and the prospect of less frequent bulb replacement looks good to almost everyone except those who make a living selling conventional lighting.

DELP sees India acquire LEDs and arrange for their sale at subsidised prices: the acquisition price of 54.9 rupees translates to a sale price of 85 rupees ($1.28).

The scheme's already seen over 50 million LED bulbs distributed and India's reportedly placed massive orders with manufacturers as it chases a target of 770 million LED bulbs. No wonder the price is going down: India may well be scoring bulk purchase discounts.

There's good news for everyone here, as analyst outfit LEDinside reports that global LED bulb prices remain steady, suggesting that India's big buys aren't necessarily straining the global supply chain and creating shortages. ®

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