SSL program seeks more funding, publishes report

The US Department of Energy's Solid State Light Program hopes see its funding boosted to $19.3 million in FY 2007, and has published materials from its recent workshop.

The Solid State Lighting Program run by the US Department of Energy (DOE) has received a boost as it looks for an increase in funding for the fiscal year beginning October 2006 (FY 2007).

The Bush Administration’s proposed budget for FY 2007 contains a request to congress for $19.3 million for the SSL program to develop state-of-the-art lighting technology.

The exact amount is unlikely to be known until October, explains Kyle Pitsor, vice president of government relations for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). NEMA operates the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance (NGLIA), which is the industrial partner of the DOE in the SSL program.

The program's funding level has increased from $3 million in FY2003 to $12.7 million in FY 2005. For the current fiscal year (FY2006, which began in October 2005), the final funded amount was $13 million, following lobbying from the NGLIA, says Pitsor.

There is also a Congressional Directive which could add a further $5 million for solid-state lighting R&D, although at this stage it is not clear how or when this will be implemented. The exact text from the funding legislation reads: "Within the $20 million provided for lighting R&D, $5 million is to support a National Center for solid-state lighting R&D through the Office of Science, to be competed among the centers for nanotechnologies."

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requested funding for the SSL program at the level of $50 million for each of the years from FY 2007 to 2013. However, as we explained in a previous article (see U.S. Energy Policy Act provides funding for solid-state lighting), which is the industrial partner of the DOE in the SSL program.

The program's funding level has increased from $3 million in FY2003 to $12.7 million in FY 2005. For the current fiscal year (FY2006, which began in October 2005…) the exact amount made available is determined each year after considering other priorities.

"The $50 million in EPACT2005 is what we call an 'authorized' level which serves as a target for the actual 'appropriation'," says Pitsor. "Non-defense, non-homeland security funding is extremely tight, and many discretionary domestic programs are seeing flat or declining levels of funding."

"The fact that the administration would provide an increase in funding for this program, while recommending cuts in others, speaks volumes about the importance of high-quality, high-efficiency lighting to our nation," adds NEMA president Evan Gaddis. "Improved lighting systems in our nation’s buildings and homes represent one of the greatest opportunities we have to save energy and ultimately reduce our dependence on foreign oil supplies.”

DOE makes SSL workshop materials available

Solid-state lighting (SSL) technology leaders from industry, research institutions, universities, and national laboratories gathered in Orlando, Florida from February 1-3, 2006 to attend a workshop focused on advancing SSL technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace.

The workshop was hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (Building Technologies Program) and the Office of Science (Basic Energy Sciences Program).

The 2006 workshop provided a forum for sharing updates on basic research underlying SSL technology, SSL core technology research, product development, commercialization support, and the ultimate goal of bringing energy-efficient, cost-competitive products to the market.

Guided by a government-industry partnership, the mission of DOE's SSL program is to create a new, US-led market for high-efficiency, general illumination products through the advancement of semiconductor technologies, to save energy, reduce costs, and enhance the quality of the lighted environment.

The 2006 SSL workshop represented the third annual meeting of the Department's program to accelerate advances in SSL technology, and included for the first time a Basic Energy Sciences (BES) Contractors' Meeting. This format enabled BES and SSL researchers to exchange research highlights and results, identify needs, and foster new ideas and collaborations.

The full conference report entitled "Industry Leaders, Research Experts Gather for 2006 DOE Solid-State Lighting Workshop" can be viewed on the DOE SSL program website.

Other links:

2006 DOE SSL Workshop Materials - presentations from the 2006 workshop plus reference documents.

2006 DOE SSL Project Portfolio (PDF file, 1.4 MB) - a 139-page overview of ongoing and completed projects in the SSL program.

Another workshop highlight was the launch of Lighting for Tomorrow's LED competition - see US group launches solid-state lighting competition.

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