Winter’s coming. Are we ready?


    November 14, 2023


    Connected technologies can create the momentum needed to mitigate climate change

    As the winter season approaches in the northern hemisphere, the longer nights and shorter days require preparation and vigilance. An additional twist exists for this winter in North America. The prospect of a historically strong El Nino event with its resulting cold and hot snaps adds another predictable—yet unpredictable—element. Ongoing regional wars—and the use of energy supplies as threats—add another layer of unpredictability to winter.

    Avoiding a global energy crisis


    Stable energy supplies drive interwoven global economies even through the worst weather conditions and geopolitical instability. Without dependable and affordable heating and lighting, the physical and mental well-being of individuals at home or in the workplace suffers. Highly volatile energy costs force household utility costs higher, harm factory output, cause shutdowns, and increase risks to economic activity. Although direct assistance, capped prices, or subsidies to energy companies may seem to soften the hit on consumers, those moves only increase demand and accelerate inflation.


    In contrast, reliable heating and lighting relieve stress and contribute to comfort whether at home, in the office, or at a manufacturing facility. Affordable heating and lighting allow families to accumulate savings and to purchase goods while enabling businesses to protect earnings and secure planned investments.

    Society cannot endure a repeat of the 2022 global energy crisis. More than ever, the crisis highlighted the vulnerability of different population segments and industries to climate change. The environmental health hazards that accompany climate change affect the elderly, individuals with pre-existing health conditions, and children. People who have a lower socio-economic status often have greater exposure to pollutants, extreme temperatures, and noise.

    Lessons learned lead to progress


    The 2022 energy crisis and the continuing war in Ukraine have triggered renewed interest in methods for achieving energy efficiencies and a greater emphasis on energy policies.  For example, member countries of the European Union agreed on voluntary targets for efficiencies aimed at reducing gas and electricity demand. The countries also instituted specific goals for the increased use of renewable energy resources and decreased energy consumption.

    Sustainable activities have gained momentum because of political action and technological innovation. For example, the European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) establishes the regulatory framework for promoting clean energy and mandatory targets for renewables. The directive includes rules to remove barriers from implementing renewable energy and funds to stimulate investments in new renewable energy technologies.

    Similarly, the European Commission’s energy efficiency directive (EED) makes efficiency targets mandatory and legally binding for state members. It also aims to lead by example, with all new public buildings required to be zero-impact starting in 2027 and by adopting a renovation rate higher than other segments.

    A quick comparison of European energy markets from late 2022 to early Fall 2023 shows a remarkable shift. The European Union’s reliance on fossil fuels for electricity fell to 17% during the first half of 2023. While solar and wind generation increased by 13 and 5 percent, coal and gas generation dropped by 23 and 13%. Denmark and Portugal raced ahead with 75% of their electricity generated by renewable energy sources.

    In Europe, energy-efficient cogeneration systems that generate electricity and heat with a single unit provide 11% of electricity and 15% of heat for EU nations. Cogeneration units generate electricity and heat and have lower emissions, require less fuel, and can utilize renewable fuels. With each step, we have learned the key lesson that energy efficiencies and renewables can quickly come to the rescue.


    LED lighting serves as a crucial linchpin for energy efficiency


    In late 2023, we haven’t yet reached the necessary levels of energy conservation. Even as the transition from conventional bulbs to LEDs increases lighting efficiency, an IEA report shows that electrical consumption and carbon emissions for lighting increased slightly during 2022.


    This imbalance occurred for several reasons. A significant number of warehouses, factories, and schools continue to rely on conventional lighting. On a global scale, more than one-third of the world’s lighting points continue to use conventional lighting technologies. In Europe, approximately 50% of currently installed lighting relies on the same type of conventional lighting technologies.

    Increasing the use of LED technologies can reverse this trend. LEDs use only 20% of the electricity required by conventional technologies. Looking ahead to 2030, the global-scale acceptance of LED lighting could result in an 80% decrease in light-related energy consumption.


    Other breakthroughs have occurred through the intersection of technologies. The greater efficiency offered through new ultra-energy saving lights produces multiple benefits, not the least of which is freeing up energy that could be used for other purposes. By switching to highly energy-efficient LED lighting, for example, a 100,000 m2 manufacturing facility can save €0.8 million in energy costs, 2.4 GWh in energy consumption, and 627 tons of CO2 annually. The freed-up electricity is enough to power the production of 54,000 pairs of jeans or 371 tons of recycled paper every year.


    The potential for zero-energy buildings continues to gain attention with more commercial building upgrades featuring LED lighting networked with other managed systems. Managing and connecting LED systems along with other services that include HVAC, space allocation, and other systems can reduce the energy consumption of a commercial building by 80% and result in a significant reduction of carbon emissions.


    Each step towards the use of renewables and energy conservation represents a gradual progression for mitigating climate change. However, the stability and resiliency of world economies requires greater, more sustainable actions. Achieving sustainability goals can only occur through international commitments to reducing energy, continued technological innovation, and through consumers, businesses, and municipalities embracing energy efficient technologies.


    Save energy and keep the lights on


    Some municipalities have tried to save energy by turning their lights off altogether, but this is not a viable solution for several reasons. Streets need illumination at night for safety, schools need light so that students can learn, hospitals need light for treatment and recovery, and public and commercial buildings need light so that people can perform their jobs properly and productively.


    LED lighting with the right controls can maximize the energy-saving potential of digital light with dimming schedules and lighting behaviors that deliver light only when and where it’s needed. As the infographic below illustrates, the energy-saving potential of switching to efficient lighting is enormous without plunging the city into darkness.

    Keep lights on, save more

    Digital information technologies can drive long-term sustainability


    The success of future sustainability efforts rests on the intersection of digital information technologies. Within this combination of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G networks, wireless devices connected to the IoT monitor energy demand.


    Technologies based on artificial intelligence analyze data to predict the supply and demand of energy in real time and provide decisions for optimizing renewable energy sources. With this approach to an intelligent grid, all consumers gain access to affordable and reliable clean energy.  to execute functions that minimize energy consumption, energy waste, and carbon emissions.


    In smart cities, connected LED streetlights and public lighting systems conserve energy and decrease carbon emissions while reducing lighting costs. Remote monitoring and management enabled by networked sensors and devices, the IoT, and AI provide the correct amount for specific locations when needed.
    We may consider those systems as the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential for achieving long-term sustainability. The cohesive use of connected technologies and predictive analysis can execute functions that minimize energy consumption, energy waste, and carbon emissions.

    The success of future sustainability efforts rests on the intersection of digital information technologies.”


    Harry Verhaar

    Head of Public & Government Affairs, Signify

    Seven years is a short time


    Without urgent action during this decade on moving away from fossil fuels, reducing energy consumption, and cutting carbon emissions, extreme weather conditions and weather-related disasters will become the new normal. The consequences of inaction will impact global economies and endanger the most vulnerable in society.


    2030 is only seven years away. Achieving the 1.5oC climate pathway within those seven years requires immediate action by policymakers at the national, regional, state, and municipal levels. Their actions can begin with participation in the 3xRenewables by 2030 Campaign. Doubling down on energy efficiency, tripling the total renewable energy capacity, and transforming energy systems by 2030 will cut GHG emissions and limit global warming.


    While policy decisions can drive the transition to clean energy, progress also depends on the support given by industry, investors, and individuals. Support entails accelerating the development and addition of solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and other forms of renewable energy generation.

    Emerging technologies coupled with increasing renewable energy capacity can create the momentum needed to mitigate climate change and improve human health and well-being. Advances in computational and communication technologies, data collection, artificial intelligence, data analysis, and modeling can potentially empower decision-making for improved infrastructure and environmental management. With the growth in renewable energy resources and the implementation of connected technologies, the potential for achieving climate resilience and economic stability increases.
    Discover how connected LED lighting can contribute to climate action, here.

    About the author:

    Harry Verhaar

    Harry Verhaar

    Head of Public & Government Affairs, Signify

    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Media relations - Professional Lighting
    Claire Phillips

    Tel: +44 7956 489081


    For commercial enquiries:

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals, consumers and the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. In 2023, we had sales of EUR 6.7 billion, approximately 32,000 employees and a presence in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for seven consecutive years and have achieved the EcoVadis Platinum rating for four consecutive years, placing Signify in the top one percent of companies assessed. News from Signify can be found in the Newsroom, on X, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors is located on the Investor Relations page.

    Meydan Bridge

    More blogs

    • Sustainability strategies for industry

      April 16, 2024

      Sustainability strategies for industry

    • Connected lighting and the energy transition in cities

      March 21, 2024

      Connected lighting and the energy transition in cities

    • Economist: Düsseldorf

      February 16, 2024

      Economist: Düsseldorf