Phillips has been recognized as the first entrant in the Department of Energy’s Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize (L Prize) competition. Intended to spur development of efficient LED replacements for incandescent bulbs, L Prize comes with a handsome reward--$10 million to the first group or individual to develop a 60 W replacement. Depending on your view, this competition was made possible/inspired by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which sounded the death knell for incandescent bulbs.
L Prize will purportedly “accelerate America's shift from inefficient, dated lighting products to innovative, high-performance products.” This is an admirable goal—LED’s are the lighting source of the future (how far in the future is debatable). But there’s an undercurrent to this, exemplified by an article in the NY Times. Titled, “Build a Better Bulb for a $10 Million Prize”, the article discusses L Prize and links it to the 2007 Energy Act.
According to the author, “new energy standards that go into effect in 2012 — and would effectively outlaw today’s incandescent bulb — have brought about a period of fertile innovation in the lighting industry.” In other words, the 2007 Energy Act, in regulating incandescents from existence (by 2014), has spurred development of solid state lighting. But of course—if you ban something, its competitors will naturally benefit. SSL probably won’t be “market-ready” by 2014 (the DOE has set its sights on 2025), so the only benefactor is the CFL manufacturer.
The DOE started accepting entries on May 28, 2008, and L Prize will continue indefinitely until one winner and, for the purposes of the voluntary EEP promotions, two additional qualifiers are declared in each category, or until 24 months have elapsed since the winning award in a given category—whichever comes first. All submissions will undergo exhaustive evaluation, with winners to follow.
The Efficiency Zone will be closely following L Prize. The competition could forecast the future of lighting.