With the increased use of solar lights in residential and commercial applications, there is a push for more advanced technologies to integrate indoor solar lights into more and more applications. One such technology is called “ hybrid lighting technology”.
Artificial lighting accounts for the largest percentage of electricity use in commercial buildings in the United States. Hybrid solar lighting provides a promising new way to reduce energy consumption while also delivering increased benefits associated with natural lighting in commercial buildings.
Hybrid solar lighting contributes to meeting the requirements set by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 for renewable energy consumption by the federal government to be not less than 3% in FY 2007–2009, 5% in FY 2010–2012, and 7.5% in 2013 and thereafter.
The technology behind hybrid solar lights was originally developed for fluorescent lighting applications but recently has been enhanced to work with many other applications. One of those applications is to replace incandescent accent-lighting sources, such as the parabolic aluminized reflector (PAR) lamps commonly used in retail spaces. Many commercial building owners—specifically retailers—use the low-efficiency PAR lamps because of their desirable optical properties and positive impact on sales. Yet the use of this inefficient lighting results in some retailers’ spending 55–70% of their energy budgets on lighting-related energy costs.
Hybrid solar lights have the potential to greatly reduce energy consumption while also maintaining or exceeding lighting quality requirements. Implementation of the hybrid solar lighting technology across the U.S. would significantly increase energy savings to the country and would provide building owners with a higher quality, energy-efficient, and economically viable alternative to incandescent lamps. Artificial lighting accounts for almost a quarter of the energy consumed in commercial buildings and 10–20% of energy consumed by industry. Solar lights can significantly reduce artificial lighting costs in many commercial and industrial buildings and in institutional facilities such as schools, libraries, and hospitals.
Future research and development is aimed at increasing the performance and reliability of solar lighting technology as well as extending the application of these systems to work with newly emerging solid-state lighting sources. Hybrid solar lights deliver the benefits of natural lighting with the advantages of an electric lighting system – flexibility, convenience, reliability, and control – while saving energy and money and helping to reduce the demand for non-renewable energy sources.
For more information about Hybrid Solar Lighting technology, you may want to check out the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. They earned the Excellence in Technology Transfer Award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer in 2007, an R&D 100 Award and a Southeast Region Federal Laboratory Consortium Award during 2006.