DOE and Partners to Offer Prize for Efficient Lighting

June 11, 2008

DOE announced in late May that it plans to offer at least a $1 million prize for the development of energy efficient, solid-state lamps. The Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize competition, or L Prize for short, was authorized by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and challenges the lighting industry to develop LED (light-emitting diode) replacement technologies for today's most widely used and inefficient lighting products. Specifically, the L Prize aims to find replacements for the 60-watt incandescent light bulb and the 4.75-inch-diameter halogen reflector lamp, technically referred to as a "PAR 38." ("PAR" stands for parabolic aluminized reflector, and "38" is the lamp's diameter in eighths of an inch.)

The replacement for the 60-watt bulb must use only 10 watts—an 83% energy savings—while the PAR 38 replacement will use only 15 watts, for an energy savings of about 87%. The winners must also meet a number of technical requirements relating to the warmth of the light, the distribution of light from the lamp, the dimensions of the lamp, the product lifetime, and the company's ability to mass-produce the lamp. A future L Prize competition will call for the development of a "21st Century Lamp" that delivers more than 150 lumens per watt (lm/W), much more than the 90 lm/W required for the 60-watt bulb replacement and the 123 lm/W required for the PAR 38 replacement.

The legislation authorizes prizes of $10 million for the incandescent light bulb replacement and $5 million for the halogen lamp replacement, but actual prize amounts will depend on future DOE appropriations and private funding contributions. DOE currently plans to contribute $1 million to the prize purse. For the winner, the real winnings could be much larger than the actual prize, because the legislation also calls for federal procurement of the winning LED lamps. The lamps will also be promoted by the four major utilities in California, thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding between those utilities and DOE. See the L Prize Web site and the full competition requirements (PDF 6.85 MB). Download Adobe Reader.