LRC tests LED-based, off-grid lighting for Lighting Africa program

Feb. 9, 2011
Tests carried out by the Lighting Research Center will support the development of emerging markets for affordable off-grid lighting products in Africa and beyond.
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been awarded a World Bank Group contract to perform laboratory testing of LED-based, off-grid lighting products for Lighting Africa, a joint IFC and World Bank program.

Lighting Africa seeks to accelerate the development of commercial off-grid lighting markets in sub-Saharan Africa to improve access to modern, clean lighting and related energy services for people at the base of the pyramid.

LRC research specialists tests solar cells “The product testing work that LRC will carry out is a central element of Lighting Africa’s program to help consumers identify good quality products and to prevent market spoiling in off-grid lighting markets in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Arne Jacobson, senior adviser in the Office of Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy and technical lead for the Lighting Africa quality assurance team.

Jacobson continued: “The LRC's deep experience in the lighting field positions them well to make a significant contribution to efforts to support the development of emerging markets for affordable off-grid lighting products in Africa and beyond.”

The results of the LRC’s tests will be used by the World Bank to provide feedback to manufacturers and institutional buyers for the region, and they may also help form the basis of a lighting quality seal recognizable by consumers as part of the overall Lighting Africa quality-assurance strategy. This strategy supports market development, provides technical advisory services to quality oriented companies, and protects the interests of low-income consumers.

“Providing access to affordable, high-quality LED technology to the ‘energy poor’ of Africa has the potential to improve the health and safety of millions while boosting the region’s economy,” said Principal Investigator Nadarajah Narendran, Rensselaer professor, LRC director of research and head of LRC’s solid-state lighting program. “We are pleased to apply our experience in leveraging and evaluating LED technology in support of Lighting Africa’s efforts to improve quality of life through lighting.”

Over the course of the next 18 months, the LRC will be testing LED-based off-grid lighting products, in particular solar-charged light emitting diode (LED) lighting but also lighting systems with a range of charging systems and energy storage technologies. The tests are designed to evaluate a host of performance and reliability criteria.