China conference highlights LED industry developments

A recent conference in China confirmed the country’s interest in developing solid-state lighting infrastructure. Bob Steele of Strategies Unlimited reports from the China International Forum on Solid-State Lighting (CIFSSL’05).

The second such conference of its kind (the first was held in Shanghai in March 2004), the China International Forum on Solid-State Lighting was held in Xiamen on April 12-15, 2005. Xiamen is on the southeast coast of China (Fujian Province), and is directly across the Taiwan Strait from Taiwan. It is also one of the five cities designated by the Chinese government as industrial bases for semiconductor lighting (the others are Shanghai, Dalian, Nanchang and Shenzhen).

CIFSSL’05 was organized and sponsored by the Governing Committee for China Solid State Lighting, the China Illumination Engineering Society, the China Association of Lighting Industry, the Xiamen Science and Technology Bureau, and variety of other Chinese government agencies and organizations, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Conference Chairmen were Prof. Gan Zizhao and Prof. Chen Lianghui of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Prof. Ian Ferguson of Georgia Tech, and Prof. Asif Khan of the University of South Carolina.

Indicative of the importance attached to the development of solid-state lighting at the highest levels of the Chinese government, the conference’s Honorary Chairman was Ma Songde, Vice Minister of Science and Technology. Vice Minister Ma also attended the conference and gave the opening address. In his remarks, he noted that while most of the technology and industrial capacity for solid-state lighting now reside in the US, Europe and Japan, as well as parts of Asia such as Korea and Taiwan, China will soon have its own high-end LED capacity, as well as a powerful R&D infrastructure. However this will require international collaboration and formation of industrial alliances.

Solid-state lighting programs
The Chinese government has placed a high priority on the development of solid-state lighting as a partial solution to the country’s growing energy problem. China imports almost all of its oil requirements, and depends heavily on domestically produced coal for power generation, resulting in serious air pollution problems in many Chinese cities. If highly efficient solid-state lighting is widely adopted over the next five years, a significant reduction in energy demand could be realized.

To achieve the potential for solid-state lighting, China has inaugurated an ambitious national program, which was described in detail at CIFSSL‘05 by Wu Ling, Director of the National Semiconductor Lighting Engineering Project Office. A similar presentation was given by Madame Wu at the Strategies in Light conference in February, which was described in a previous article in LEDs Magazine (see China promotes benefits of solid-state lighting).

International participation
Although the vast majority of the more than 400 attendees at CIFSSL were from mainland China, the organizers of CIFSSL ’05 mounted a concerted effort to make it more international in scope. Compared to the 2004 conference in Shanghai, many more of the speakers were from the US, Europe or other Asian countries.

Prominent foreign speakerss included: George Craford, CTO, Lumileds Lighting; Mike Dunn, VP and General Manager, Cree; Yung S. Liu, Director, Optoelectronics and Systems Laboratory, ITRI (Taiwan); Robert Steele, Director of Optoelectronics, Strategies Unlimited; Young Moon Yu, Division Director for LED Research and Business Development, KOPTI (Korea); Bernde Schulte (Aixtron), President, European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC); Jacques Blaise, VP, Future Electronics; B J Lee, President, Epistar Corporation; and many others. Approximately 60 percent of the speakers were from outside mainland China.

Local programs
The conference agenda provided an interesting mix of presentations ranging from fundamental LED device and materials issues to discussions of LED markets, applications, and national, regional and even local solid-state lighting programs. In China, although the national solid-state lighting program is being spearheaded by the national government in Beijing, the province and cities are also very much involved.

CIFSSL’05 featured several presentations by local officials regarding the implementation of LEDs in municipal lighting programs. For example, Prof. Chen Weimin, representing the Chongqing LED Alliance, discussed the municipal LED lighting activities underway in that city. A portion of the municipal budget has been set aside specifically for LED lighting projects. These projects involve applications such as roadway lighting, tunnel lighting, fountain lighting, lighting of building facades, and many others.

The future in China
From both the CIFSSL’05 presentations and informal discussions during the conference, it is clear that China is emerging as major market as well as a major supplier of solid-state lighting. The LED industry already generates more than $1 billion in revenue and employs over 40,000 people in China. Although much of the high-brightness LED technology required for solid-state lighting is currently imported, China is focusing on improving its technology and establishing a strong industrial base. It also believes that international cooperation is essential in reaching its goals for the solid-state lighting industry. CIFSSL, along with similar conferences to follow in 2006 and beyond, is an important step in China’s dialogue with the rest of the world for this key technology.

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