Innovating and scaling up low-carbon technologies is a fundamental part of the global need to tackle climate change.
However, this can be a particular challenge for large developing countries such as India. This is because climate-mitigation technologies can have high upfront costs, whereas achieving rapid economic development often relies on relatively cheap large-scale energy sources, which are, generally, fossil fuels.
Developing countries often have limited capabilities to innovate and produce cutting-edge low-carbon technologies themselves and, therefore, need to import them.
In order to achieve global climate goals, a key question must be answered: how can developing countries rapidly scale-up emerging energy-efficient technologies while also advancing their technological capabilities?
Falling prices and growing market
Light bulbs are one of the most ubiquitous electric appliances around the world, consuming about15% of the global electricity。
在过去十年中，全球照明市场一直在转向LED照明技术，这取决于75% more energy efficientthan traditional incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), global LED bulb prices have fallen by一个数量级during this period.
Ourstudy, jointly released by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, analyses the enormous growth of LED use in India between 2014 and 2018.
India’s LED lighting market grew 130-fold within five years, skyrocketing from annual sales of 5m bulbs per year in 2014 to about 670m in 2018. This resulted in 30 terawatt hours (TWh) of annual energy savings – roughly enough to power28m average Indian householdsor the whole of Denmark for a year.
Over the same period, the number of LEDs in India has increased rapidly. As the chart below illustrates, the market share for LEDs (yellow line) grew from 0.3% to 46%, with sales surpassing those of incandescent (blue), CFL (orange) and tubelight (green) lamps in 2018.图1：印度的照明市场趋势（2010-2018）显示LED照明市场的130倍。资料来源：2010-2018印度的照明行业数据(ELCOMA)
As LED lamps became “cheaper than bread”, India underwent a lighting transformation with huge positive implications fornational energy use and CO2 emissions。
The LED market has grown concurrently with the expansion of electricity in India – in 201793% of the population had electricity access, up from 70% in 2010. There is a trend towards first-time LED use inlow-income households在一些地区，如北方邦，家庭leap-frogged from having no electrical lighting straight to LED lights, without ever using more energy-intensive bulbs. In 2017, coal generated76% of India’s electricity因此，LED在使电力接入具有较低的碳足迹方面发挥着关键作用。
This rapid change was possible despite the fact that India does not have its own commercial facility to manufacture LED chips or integrated circuits – two core components in the bulb.
Evaluating India’s rapid LED market expansion
To understand India’s rapid LED market expansion, we analysed the capabilities of the supply and demand sides of India’s LED market, along with a broad range of LED-related policies, research and development institutions, infrastructure and spillovers from other sectors, as well as financing. (These are collectively referred to in the academic literature as a “technological innovation system”.)
The main driver of India’s rapid market creation was a policy initiative, known as “Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All“或”Ujala“，为全国市场采购了LED灯泡。这将通过竞争竞标带来LED价格下跌，允许灯泡以盈利，但通过售货亭和注册供应商销售。
However, a crucial enabler of the policy’s success was China’s capacity to manufacture LED bulbs and their components at enormous scales and low costs.
The UJALA program had the singular goal of LED market expansion, which it achieved efficiently, although not without unintended consequences.
由于激烈的竞争提供低价出价和相关的LED灯泡质量标准的强制执行，因此印度市场的LED灯泡整体质量多年来恶化。这导致了每个灯泡的寿命更短 - 长期碳储蓄的错过机会。
India’s narrowly focused policy approach also did not utilise research capabilities or technical expertise in the country’s premier research institutes. These had been advancing quickly as a result of agovernment-funded multi-institute LED lighting research and development programmethat began in 2007-8 – seven years before the market-expansion initiative.
There is potential for India to continue its LED market growth while also increasing bulb quality and accelerating industrial capabilities. But it requires more strategic and multifaceted policy efforts in order to address the current weaknesses in the industry and make the most of its existing strengths.
Three lessons emerge for future low-carbon technology innovation and market expansion in India and other developing countries.
First, India’s experience in LED bulb market expansion shows that narrowly focused policies, although effective in the short term, often have unintended consequences.
While they may benefit one part of a low-carbon technology innovation system, such policies lead to missed opportunities or undesirable implications for other parts of the system.
Therefore, a portfolio of coordinated policies would likely be more successful at rapid innovation and large-scale deployment efforts for climate-mitigation technologies. Such a policy portfolio needs to take into account strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities for all actors related to the technology’s production, research and development, and use.
While each policy faces trade-offs between conflicting goals – such as rapid market creation and domestic industrial capacity-building – coordination between different government agencies planning and implementing complementary policies can help reduce unintended consequences.
Second, the success of these policies is also predicated on many global technology- and industry-specific factors. The success of the UJALA programme was possible due to China’s capability to manufacture LED bulbs and components at large scale and low costs. However, similar heavy dependence on imports might not be as economical for larger, more complex and less standardised technologies, such aselectric cars。
Third, as developing countries are advancing their research and development and industrial capabilities, an important weakness is the absence of strong linkages through the whole technology development process, including research in national labs, manufacturing in industry and market expansion policies.
Although developing countries can assemble and deploy imported technologies in spite of weak linkages, in the long run, they cannot benefit from future technological breakthroughs without them.
总的来说,这个例子的ledia shows that locking in low-carbon sustainable economic growth requires a long-term strategy. And it must focus on the entire innovation chain, which includes research and development, manufacturing, demand-side management and job creation.
Kamat, A. S. et al. (2020) Illuminating homes with LEDs in India: Rapid market creation towards low-carbon technology transition in a developing country, Energy Research & Social Science,doi:10.1016/j.erss.2020.101488
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