LED bulbs for 16 cents? It must be India

India is looking more determined than ever to play a leading role in the world's revolutionary move to LED lighting. The latest example: Its federal government is subsidising a program to sell LED bulbs to household residents in the state of Andhra Pradesh for 10 rupees, which is the equivalent of 16 cents.

In case you think that's a typo: Not $16.00, not $1.60, but $0.16. On a planet where the average international selling price of an LED bulb is still miles above the price of conventional incandescents - $14.10 for a 40-watt-equivalent LED and $18.20 for a 60-watt as we reported yesterday – 16 cents is the mother of all price breakthroughs.

It's just the sort of drastic drop that government officials hope will lure consumers – many of them poor – onto the technology that eats up only 20 percent of the electricity of conventional bulbs. India faces huge energy shortages, so conservation and efficiency are as key to its future as are new power plants.

And even though the average price of an LED bulb is relatively low in India at 400 rupees (about $6.50) according to a story in The Economic Times, it's still out of reach to many consumers.

So the federal government's Ministry of Power has helped hatch a plan in partnership with government of Andhra Pradesh, the story notes.

The Ministry is purchasing LED bulbs for over $2.00 each and reselling them at only 16 cents to residents of the state of about 50 million people on India's southeast coast that includes the major cities of Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. Andhra Pradesh wants 3.7 million households to each install two, 10-cent, LED bulbs in a plan that it calls the Demand Side Efficient Lighting Programme.

It doesn't take a math wizard to spot the huge loss the federal government incurs when buying high and selling extremely low. But the Ministry of Power ministry believes it will recoup its costs. The plan calls for four electricity distribution companies in Andhra Pradesh to pay back the Ministry over five-to-eight years through energy savings, the Times writes.

The funding echoes an LED street lighting initiative in India's northeastern city of Agartala, where the Ministry of Power is covering upfront capital costs which the state of Tripura, of which Agartala is the capital, will pay back through years of energy savings.

Both the Agartala and Andhra Pradesh programmes involve a number of Ministry of Power groups, including Energy Efficiency Services Ltd., which itself includes a national generating company, a finance company, a rural electrification company and a power transmitter.

India is rapidly emerging as a hotbed of LED lighting. Vendors are rushing there in hopes of capturing a share of the burgeoning residential and commerical markets. For instance, Chinese lighting wunkderkind Opple recently declared its intentions to enter the Indian market and underprice incumbent bulb suppliers by 10-to-15 percent.

Many well-known brands are also jockeying to sell street lighting and control systems as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's $1.2 billion plan to build 100 new smart cities.

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Photo is from Wikimedia

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