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4 December 2008


Philips illuminates world's first LED nation

A three-acre island off the USA’s Connecticut coast is set to become an ‘off-grid’ model of efficiency — in part by adopting LED lighting.

North Dumpling Island is owned by inventor Dean Kamen, who has established it as an independent nation - complete with its own constitution, flag and national anthem. When the US Coast Guard cut electrical connectivity to the island's lighthouse in favor of solar power, Kamen decided to use renewable energy sources exclusively, together with the latest technical innovations in lighting, water purification and appliances (many of which are his own inventions). As a result, the island will achieve net zero energy (i.e. its energy use will be negated by its energy generation).

The fully converted and self-sustaining island will be unveiled in the Spring during a two-day fundraising event for FIRST, an organization founded by Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

“With increasing strain on our world's energy resources, our goal is to make North Dumpling a small but prominent example of what can be achieved on a larger scale with today's emerging energy-saving technologies,” says Kamen. “The role of lighting alone as a chief energy drain has been well proven, and Philips’ LED lighting systems merge the best of technical innovation with societal benefit.”

The official lighting provider to the island is Philips Color Kinetics of Burlington, MA, USA (the leading center of innovation and product development for Philips’ global LED lighting systems business). Installation is now underway and includes:

  • replacing incandescent sources with LED alternatives inside Kamen’s properties, cutting their lighting-related energy by 70%;
  • adding controllable, multi-color LED lighting for special effects on the island while still cutting overall energy by nearly 50%;
  • improving the ‘usefulness’ of illumination via the directional nature of LED sources which, unlike the island's former floodlighting system, project light exactly where it's needed for greater efficiency;
  • allowing the basement space to be illuminated, where the prior incandescent sources generated too much heat to be safely installed.

“There’s a common misperception that adopting energy-efficient lighting means sacrificing the quality and experience of light that we're accustomed to. That’s simply not the case with LED systems which, when engineered properly, can mimic nearly any ‘shade’ of white light - from warm incandescent to cool fluorescent,” says Philips Color Kinetics’ chief technology officer Fritz Morgan. “Moreover, the inherently digital and directional nature of LED sources allows us to control and customize light as never before,” he adds.

Philips participates in many government and industry initiatives related to energy conservation. As a founding member of the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance, it has helped to develop a technology roadmap for the US Department of Energy as well as Energy Star criteria for LED lighting. The firm also played an instrumental role in the formation and leadership of the Lighting Efficiency Coalition, and recently received a Champion of Energy Efficiency Award from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy - largely for leading the charge to phase out inefficient incandescent lamps in the US market.

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