By Srabani Sen
Public sector energy majors ONGC and NTPC have announced their entry into LED manufacturing to help spread the technology and lower the price barrier. The giants also promised to rapidly scale up production as LED technology is widely seen as the future of lighting. ONGC’s Energy Centre is in the process of finalising a joint venture with a partner, for the assembly and packaging of LED luminaires in India, for which it is coming up with an assembly plant. In the second phase, it plans to establish an LED packaging plant, and hopes that its research work would lead to manufacture of high technology products in the country.
NTPC Ltd, on the other hand, has tied up with the Bengaluru based Society for Integrated Circuit Technology and Applied Research to make LED lamps, and is also looking for a suitable partner.
There is no doubt that the entry of large players will help in scaling up LED production in the country, which is the only way to bring down costs. So NTPC and ONGC’s entry is important for the technology to spread faster
Some insiders in the industry, however, are sceptical about this development. Says G Gururaja, director, operations, Avni Energy Solutions Pvt Ltd, “Big players foraying into LED manufacturing may not have enough of an impact to increase the volumes. These companies will require a minimum of 12-18 months to design, evaluate and launch a product. LED technology is evolving fast; if you look at past records, every 18 months, the lumens/watt has doubled. So it will be very difficult for a company to adapt and keep pace with this technology.”
Even as a gradual switchover from incandescent bulbs to CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) is underway, the government is working towards ensuring that LED technology breaches the price barrier.
A National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) committee has recommended that the Centre needs to promote the shift to LEDs by aggregating demand in the country and encouraging domestic manufacturing in order to reduce costs.
The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) had also stressed that domestic manufacturing of LEDs for lighting, starting with the non-semiconductor chip portion, needs to be encouraged in a phased manner to bring down the costs of LED lighting products.
BEE has already started a project aimed at providing financial support for the implementation of LED based street lighting in 23 municipalities, apart from an LED village campaign, as demonstration projects. The objective is to showcase the new technology so that a comparison can be made between LED and convention lighting technologies.