OSRAM: Off-grid Lighting

Innovation created by: Osram

Presentation written by: GUAN JIAHUI, guandreamhigh@gmail.com

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU, elena.barbu@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr

 

Introduction

About 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on “fuel-based lighting” because they do not have access to the electric grid, usually burning kerosene for light in different types of lanterns. OSRAM recognized this problem early on, so in 2008 it started a project on Lake Victoria in Kenya to deliver efficient lighting in off-grid areas – which has been unique in the world at that time. At specially constructed solar-powered energy stations, the local inhabitants can rent and recharge batteries for energy-saving lamps, luminaires and other electrical appliances such as cell phones at low cost and without damaging the environment.

 

1. About Osram

The Munich based Osram GmbH produces the Osram brand of light bulbs since more than100 years. Since 1978 Osram is owned by Siemens AG. More than 41.000 Osramemployees create a turnover of more than € 4,7 bil. OSRAM has 52 production sites of which 48 passed an ISO 14 001 certification for environmental management.

1.1 CSR Activities and CSR Management

The Osram Team “Global Sustainability” was launched April 1st 2008. The team is led by the Chief Sustainability Officer, who reports directly to the CEO of OSRAM, and has global responsibility. The teams main functions are:

– Sustainability Lifecycle: Applies to all processes within OSRAM and assures that sustainability is considered in all relevant topics. The research and development departments are of special importance because it is here that the basis for our energysaving products is created.

– Recycling/WEEE: OSRAM and other lamp manufacturers have setup “Collections and Recycling Support Organizations” (CRSOs) in many European countries in fulfillment of the EU-WEEE-directive. The sustainability function administers these organizations and promotes the development of a worldwide recycling system.

– Sustainable projects: OSRAM has started important projects which concentrate on sustainable development with environmentally preferable and affordable light: OffGrid and CDM projects.

– Stakeholder Engagement: Sustainable development requires dialogue with different stakeholders. A part of this dialogue is the non-financial reporting, e.g. in the framework of the UN Global Compact.

1.2 Focus Areas of Innovation

Lighting consumes about 19% of the worldwide production of electricity. A special responsibility for energy saving and climate protection therefore lies with the principal manufacturers of conventional and energy saving bulbs, OSRAM, Phillips and General Electric. Each of them represents a global market share of more than 20%. The objectives avoiding hazardous materials in products and social responsibility in the supply chain also are of high priority.

The main targets for R&D as well as the key performance indicators of Osram are:

– energy efficiency,

– durability,

– reduction of hazardous substances in products.

Synergy between energy efficiency and cost reduction is high. Osram specially strives for growth with innovative and energy saving products.

 

2. Innovation : Off-grid Lighting

2.1 Construction of all eight energy stations

After successful implementation, the OSRAM Off-Grid Lighting project started independent operation in 2016.

About 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on “fuel-based lighting” because they do not have access to the electric grid, usually burning kerosene for light in different types of lanterns.

OSRAM recognized this problem early on, so in 2008 it started a project on Lake Victoria in Kenya to deliver efficient lighting in off-grid areas – which has been unique in the world at that time. At specially constructed solar-powered energy stations, the local inhabitants can rent and recharge batteries for energy-saving lamps, luminaires and other electrical appliances such as cell phones at low cost and without damaging the environment.

Following a pilot phase with three energy stations – the O-HUBs – the project was expanded extensively through the construction of five further energy stations – the WE!Hubs.

Construction of all eight energy stations was successfully completed in fiscal 2015 in collaboration with the project partners. OSRAM has provided the technical solutions for off-grid lighting. The WE!Hubs in Kenya are operated by the local Kenyan cooperation partner, Thames Electricals Ltd. and its subsidiary Light for Life Ltd., independently in the form of a social enterprise.

2.2 Reasons of being responsible and strategic

An amazing 77 billion liters of kerosene are burned every year for lighting,resulting in emissions of 190 Million tons of CO2 yearly. Besides being a very inefficient light source, kerosene lighting is expensive,dangerous and poses a health hazard for its users.The main advantage of kerosene is that it can be bought in small portions, thus allowing for small and irregular incomes.The OSRAM off-grid solution is new because it takes into account exactly these issues. The key points of the system are:

  • Efficient lamps or lighting systems using energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs are powered by rechargeable batteries.
  • Customers return the standardized system to the O-HUB and get a freshly charged system in exchange. The customer pays only for the energy, echoing a great advantage of kerosene – light can be bought in small portions according to available income.
  • specially constructed solar-powered energy stations the local inhabitants can rent and recharge batteries for energy-saving lamps.
  • The ‘deposit’ for the system is taken care of with micro financing.

The first OSRAM Energy Hub in Mbita (Kenya) on the shores of lake Victoria was opened after a planning phase of only one year and a construction time of only four months.Partners of the project are the solar cell company Solar world AG and the cell phone manufacturer Nokia, who analyses possible synergies of decentralized energy hubs with the usability of cell phones. To date OSRAM-teams are working on three additional Energy Hubs in Kenya and Uganda, which shall be opened in the next time. Also, an energy hub in India is under consideration.

 

3. Obstacles

The main obstacle is the difficulty of the R&D of new lighting forms. There is a couple of inventions which are the bases for new products, but there is a lot of work to do to produce functional and durable lighting devices e.g. on basis of an organic light emitting diode(OLED). If a new product is available, the market must become used to pay the necessary prices. Even if these products are economic and the product pays back its investment cost,customers must become used to higher investments.In parallel, production capacity must be created. While LED-technology has been successfully introduced in the market and now the task is to enhance production capacity,OLED technology is still in its infancy and prototypes are in the test phase.An additional obstacle will be, that for OLEDs, a cultural change in lamp design will be necessary. OLEDs are spread out over an area such as a wall. They emit their light from that area. Instead of a lamp hanging from the ceiling, a part of the ceiling itself might be the light source of the future. This can only be introduced to the market, when designers create new types of lamps and consumers are innovative enough to change their lighting priorities.

 

References

http://www.osram-group.com/en/sustainability/social/off-grid-lighting

Thomas Loew, Jens Clausen, Molly Hall, Lasse Loft und Sabine Braun,<Case Studies on CSR and Innovation: Company Cases from Germany and the USA>, Berlin, Münster 2009