Chapter 10. The Future

It’s nice to think that the best technology always triumphs, but we know that’s not the case. The QWERTY keyboard layout has been maligned for years, yet it’s so ingrained into our minds (and laptops) that we can be relatively sure it’s not going anywhere. And, of course, the most often cited example of a better technology being left behind is Betamax’s loss to VHS during the so-called Video Format War of the mid-1970s. Ultimately, it’s unlikely the LEDs will lose out to another technology, especially incandescents, but it will be a drawn out fight and hard-won victory.

As prices drop and consumer awareness grows, LEDs will flourish. Boosters like the L Prize, government regulation, power company subsidies, and (perhaps) rising energy prices will all assist in LED adoption. The case for increasingly efficient lighting is inarguable, and LEDs have the best chance right now, especially considering the trajectory of the industry and the downward trend of the competition. As power becomes an issue for everyone, awareness will grow and the huge gains in efficiency found in solid-state lighting will be welcomed as the lowest-hanging fruit possible, saving individuals, countries, and the world billions of dollars, not to mention tons of carbon dioxide, a year.

It’s fun to think in terms of winning and losing, but things are rarely that simple. The incandescent will probably always be available in some form, and while CFLs are largely recognized as a transitional technology, ...

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