The compact fluorescent bulbs that now fill our homes may turn out to be the eight-tracks of this era, as a still more energy-efficient lighting technology becomes cheaper and more widespread. McKinsey & Co. predicts LED lighting, which generates a powerful beam from clusters of light-emitting diodes first commercialized in the 1970s, will account for almost 60% of the global market by 2020. Until now, the big obstacle to using LEDs was price, but that has come down 85% in the past five years.
Canadian companies are at the forefront of the trend, with Montreal’s Lumenpulse going public in 2014 and on track to surpass $100 million in sales this fiscal year. In December, Vancouver’s Cooledge Lighting received $18.4 million in venture capital to further develop its Light Sheet, a thin, flexible light source that can be integrated into a building’s structure, replacing today’s ubiquitous fluorescent tubes.