South Korean electronics companies expressed optimism Wednesday that a looming production ban of incandescent lighting could boost sales of their energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs.
Local production and imports of incandescent light bulbs are set to be banned permanently next year in South Korea under a 2008 decision to phase out low-efficient light bulbs.
Russia and Australia are scheduled to join South Korea in banning incandescent light bulbs. The United States also plans to end the production and sale of 60-Watt and 40-Watt household incandescent light bulbs next year, while China is set to ban 60-Watt incandescent light bulbs.
LED light bulbs have gained popularity in recent years as they are more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs.
The total cost of an incandescent light bulb, including the price of its electricity usage, is about 15,863 (US$15) won a year. In comparison, the cost of an LED light bulb could fall by about 82 percent to 2,813 won a year, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
"Energy savings, and thus energy cost savings can motivate consumers to upgrade old bulbs," Strategies Unlimited, a major U.S. market research firm covering LEDs, said in a report in July.
It said a good quality LED replacement bulb will last about 25 years with normal use in a home, though these upgrades only tend to occur when these costs are what consumers consider reasonable.
There are currently about 30 million incandescent light bulbs still in use in South Korea. Replacing all of them with LED light bulbs will help save more than 1,800 gigawatts of electricity a year, which is enough power to run up to 650,000 households during the same period, according to the ministry.
The development holds a large potential for growth of South Korean makers of energy efficient lighting equipment.
Seoul Semiconductor Co., the world's fifth-largest LED supplier by sale, is upbeat on the prospects for the production and import ban of incandescent light bulbs.
"We expect that our profits could go up as the LED market could increase," said Chun Tae-young, a spokesman of Seoul Semiconductor.
He said his company could generate about 1 trillion won in sales in 2013, compared with 858.6 billion won in 2012.
LG Innotek, a sister company of LG Electronics Inc., also said it expects its sales of LED parts to jump in coming years. The production and import ban of incandescent light bulbs "would have a positive impact on our sales," an LG Innotex official said. He asked not to be identified, citing policy.
LG Innotek said its sales of LED parts stood at 996.1 billion won last year and said it sells most of its LED parts to LG Electronics, the world's third-largest smartphone maker.
Earlier this month, a South Korean association that speaks for local makers of lighting equipment said it plans to export US$18 million worth of LED lamps to small hotels in the U.S.
The Korea LED Association said it reached a deal with the Korean American Hotel Association last week in Los Angeles to provide LED lamps to about 300 hotels that belong to the association.