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Summer 2009
New Regional Center for Energy-Efficient Lighting in South Asia Launched

RCL representatives at the LRCAfter many months of planning, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) partnered with the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA) and the LRC to create a new lighting center, known as the Regional Center for Energy Efficient Lighting in Sri Lanka (RCL). Launched in April, the new center serves eight countries in South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The center is designed to advance sustainable lighting and make it affordable in South Asia to improve the well-being of the citizens and the countries within the region.

The LRC is the primary knowledge partner for the RCL and plans to provide technical knowledge, training, and guidance on RCL activities.

To kick-off the training activities, more than a dozen RCL participants representing government, academia, and industry sectors from South Asia visited the Lighting Research Center in Troy, New York, for two weeks in June. Through the education program, the group was introduced to a variety of information on lighting technology, LEDs, daylighting, human factors, light and health, lighting design, application, and evaluation.

 “The Regional Center for Energy Efficient Lighting is created within the energy efficiency program of Sri Lanka’s Sustainable Energy Authority,” explained program participant Harsha Wickramasinghe, SLSEA Deputy Director General of Operations. “We are working to make our part of the world productively, economically, and efficiently lit.”

This is critical as electricity costs in Sri Lanka, for example, are typically double those in the United States and can account for 5 to 10 percent of a family’s income, according to Wickramasinghe.

Dr. Narendran, research director at the Lighting Research Center and the principal investigator for this project, pointed out that South Asia has a unique advantage. Since the region’s lighting infrastructure is in its infancy, South Asia has the opportunity to learn from both the accomplishments and mistakes experienced in the western part of the world and promote processes and technologies and develop programs that have the best chance at success.

“This is an exciting project for the Lighting Research Center, and it holds interesting opportunities for our Partners, as well,” said Narendran.

As part of their education program, the group traveled to the headquarters and manufacturing facilities of OSRAM SYLVANIA, Philips Lightolier, and Philips Solid-State Lighting Solutions (Color Kinetics). Each host company was extremely gracious and provided tours, product demonstrations, and wonderful meals as part of the visit.

Improving quality of life through lighting

Effective lighting could provide economic opportunity, as well as improve literacy, for more than a billion people living in rural villages and towns in developing countries who have no access to effective nighttime lighting in their homes, schools, or community buildings. In equatorial latitudes, where many of them live, it is dark by 6:30 p.m. year round. Families are unable to work or study beyond dark.

Most people in developing countries rely on burning kerosene, diesel, and propane to provide lighting. These dangerous and costly fuels provide poor quality light and pose fire and burn hazards. The emission of carbon dioxide from fuel-based light sources also can compromise indoor air quality and impact health and well-being.

Solid-state lighting technologies, particularly light-emitting diodes (LED), hold particular promise. Properly designed LEDs can work fluidly with off-grid power generation systems to meet the lighting needs of developing countries and rural areas. However, for off-grid lighting systems to succeed long term, it is critical to engage organizations that can work with agencies involved in rural electrification to produce fixtures that meet certain performance criteria and live up to performance expectations.

For more information, a press release announcing the new center is posted on the USAID Web site.

About the Lighting Research Center

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y., and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. The LRC offers the world's premier graduate education in lighting, including one- and two-year master's programs and a Ph.D. program. Since 1988 the LRC has built an international reputation as a reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. The LRC also provides training programs for government agencies, utilities, contractors, lighting designers, and other lighting professionals. Visit

Contact:lrcnewsletter@rpi.eduPhotos & Graphics:Dennis Guyon
Editor:Mary CimoWeb Production:Dennis Guyon
Contributing Writers:Jennifer Taylor, Mary Cimo, Dennis Guyon
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