Behind many advances in LED technology you will find the guiding hand of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Jim Brodrick is the solid-state lighting (SSL) portfolio manager in the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The 8-year-old SSL program he runs had humble beginnings: two projects and $500,000 in funding. Today, Brodrick oversees 75 projects representing $25 million. A true advocate for SSL technology, he works with designers, manufacturers, academics, national laboratories, and research institutions to ensure accurate testing procedures, quality standards, and energy efficiency.
What changes have you seen in SSL? The increase in efficiency and output, and available products such as downlights, task lamps, and outdoor fixtures that really perform.
Where do you see SSL heading in the next few years? The DOE is looking at a 20-year forecast that looks to save something in the order of $280 billion. SSL is one of the few technologies I have seen in the past 40 years that can actually turn the national consumption curve down. There is a real promise that in 10 to 20 years lighting will use less energy.
How do you think the economy is impacting the SSL industry? The industry isn't overgrown. It's still young, so it can fare well. We actually have the potential to become even more visible, because SSL is delivering the research and development results.
What do you hope will be the next evolution for LEDs? The DOE is always working for efficiency and improving lumens per watts, but not to the exclusion of light quality. The DOE would like to be part of something that brings the price of LED-based luminaries down while finding ways to create markets that bring the seller and the buyer together.
How do you see the DOE's role when it comes to SSL? From the CALiPER product testing program to the Next Generation Luminaires Competition to meetings with the design community, we are trying to bring all the interested parties together.
Any advice for designers and manufacturers about LEDs? It's an exciting time. Take advantage of the DOE programs to help navigate the latest information with this ever-developing technology.