I LED THE WAY
Unat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) is a government LED lightbulb distribution scheme driving the transition to low-carbon LED lighting in India. Since its launch in 2015, UJALA has emerged as the world’s largest unsubsidised LED bulb program for households.
More than 230 million LED bulbs have been purchased by Indian households, with estimated savings of more than 30 billion kWh annually, making it a striking story of developing country technology transition.
The UJALA programme aims to reduce energy consumption and manage peak demand; promote the use of a more efficient lighting technology at an affordable rate; enhance consumer awareness on the financial and environmental benefits of using energy efficient appliances; and increase and aggregate the demand for LED lights across the country.
In 2013, the Punducherry government used reverse bidding to drive down the price of bulbs from $9.15 to $0.15 per bulb, investing in 750,000 LED bulbs at a cost of $3.5 million. Shortly after the Punducherry deal was signed, other provinces followed suit, leading to a bulk purchase of 350 million LED bulbs from Energy Efficiency Services Ltd. (EELS) by the Indian government. EESL bulk procurement with a strategy of demand aggregation and mass awareness to gain the support of utility companies, state Governments, and a price conscious Indian public.
Marketing played an important role in this process, with high-level political messaging, and local awareness campaigns (eg. local information programs, TV advertisements, newspapers, banners, radio jingles, mobile advertising vans, and door to door campaigning). Specific campaigns were created to target low-income consumers and women. The messaging, while including affordability and environmental benefits, also contained prominent aspirational appeals slogans: “the new dawn of happiness”, “the house shone, smiled. … everybody will be happy, every village will be happy, the shade of happiness,” “280 million LED bulbs are lighting path to progress” and a social media hashtag encouraging consumers to join a “movement”, and to “lead the way” (#iLEDtheway).
Story by Cécile Gardin