A new Energy Department report finds that LED lamps have a significantly lower environmental impact than incandescent lighting and a slight environmental edge over compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The report, LED Manufacturing and Performance, compares these three technologies from the beginning to the end of their life cycles, including manufacturing, operation, and disposal. The most comprehensive study of its kind for LED lamps, the report analyzes the energy and environmental impacts of manufacturing, assembly, transport, operation, and disposal of these three lighting types. It is the first public report to consider the LED manufacturing process in depth. See the LED Manufacturing and Performance report .
This is the second report produced through a larger Energy Department project intended to assess the life-cycle environmental and resource costs of LED lighting products in comparison with traditional lighting technologies. It utilizes conclusions from the previous report, Review of the Lifecycle Energy Consumption of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent and LED Lamps, released in February 2012, to produce a thorough assessment of the manufacturing process. See the Review of the Lifecycle Energy Consumption of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent and LED Lamps report .
The initial report concluded that CFLs and today's LEDs are similar in energy consumption—both consuming significantly less electricity over the same period of usage than incandescent lighting—and that operating these products consumed the majority of the energy used throughout their life cycles. Similarly, the new report finds that the energy these lighting products consume during operation makes up the majority of their environmental impact, compared to the energy consumed in manufacturing and transportation. Because of their high efficiency—consuming only 12.5 watts of electricity to produce about the same amount of light as CFLs (15 watts) and incandescents (60 watts)—LED lamps were found to be the most environmentally friendly of the three lamp types over the lifetime of the products, across 14 of the 15 impact measures examined in the study. See the DOE Progress Alert and the Solid State Lighting website .