About the Program

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005) and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) issued directives to the Secretary of Energy to carry out a Next Generation Lighting Initiative to support SSL R&D. The legislation directs DOE to support research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities related to advanced SSL technologies.

In order to effectively fulfill the directives in EPACT 2005 and EISA 2007, DOE developed a comprehensive national strategy that comprises three tightly integrated activities: Competitive Research and Development, Market-Based Technology Advancement, and Market Engagement.

Competitive Research and Development

SSL R&D efforts spur advances in efficacy and performance that might not otherwise happen without DOE funding. Projects conducted under the DOE SSL program are competitively awarded and cost-shared, with industry and university partners providing an average of nearly 40 percent as cost-share. DOE SSL program requirements also ensure that the intellectual property and patents that ensue from DOE-funded R&D remain in the U.S. Learn more.

  • Core technology projects focus on applied research for technology development, with particular emphasis on meeting efficacy, performance, and cost targets.
  • Product development projects use knowledge gained from basic or applied research to develop or improve commercially viable materials, devices, or systems.
  • Manufacturing R&D focuses on achieving significant cost reductions through improvements in manufacturing equipment, processes, or monitoring techniques.

In addition to SSL program-funded R&D, DOE's Office of Science Basic Energy Sciences program funds research to answer basic scientific questions that underlie DOE mission needs. These projects target principles of physics, chemistry, and the materials sciences, including knowledge of electronic and optical processes that enable development of new synthesis techniques and novel materials. Priority research topics related to SSL are identified with SSL program input, and projects related to SSL are then managed by the SSL program. Learn more .

Market-Based Technology Advancement

Market-based technology advancement efforts are designed to accelerate the development and adoption of good-quality, high-performance SSL products that achieve significant energy savings and maintain or improve lighting quality. Relying on lessons learned from market introduction of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and using newly developed market research, DOE efforts are designed to minimize the likelihood that the SSL market will repeat mistakes that greatly delayed CFL market entry. Market-based technology advancement efforts include:

  • Laboratory testing and quality reporting
  • Field demonstrations and measurements
  • Technical education to help buyers and their agents make better decisions on specifications and product purchases
  • Technology development and product design competitions

Impartial, trusted analysis from DOE identifies and intercepts technology problems early on, alerting manufacturers to needed improvements, and helping to put detailed information into the hands of buyers. This activity leads to tight and fast market feedback loops, inducing technology improvements faster than might otherwise occur. Technology development and product design contests work in lieu of product development funding to move industry toward reach targets for energy efficiency and lighting quality. DOE's efforts provide information—of the right type, at the right time, to those who can best use it. This information helps to reduce the risks and costs for manufacturers of SSL products to sell good-quality, high-performance products to motivated buyers. It also feeds back into DOE planning for R&D priorities, allowing DOE to make better informed decisions.

Market Engagement

DOE's annual workshops reach a range of program stakeholders with information about DOE-sponsored R&D projects, and about SSL market adoption issues, technical challenges, and real-world applications. Attendees provide extensive input and guidance back to the DOE SSL program via plenary session question-and-answer periods, technology-specific breakout sessions, one-on-one meetings, and informal networking. In addition, DOE regularly organizes roundtables and joint planning sessions with key market participants. Because LED technology, products, and the market continue to evolve so quickly, it is imperative that DOE have frequent interaction with key researchers, manufacturers, lighting users, energy efficiency programs, retailers, and other stakeholders both to share the latest information and data, and to seek their input on industry and market needs. This input informs updates to the Multi-Year SSL R&D Program Plan, the SSL Manufacturing R&D Roadmap, and the Multi-Year Market-Based Technology Advancement Plan.

Market engagement efforts also include DOE education and outreach at major lighting industry events such as LIGHTFAIR® International and Strategies in Light®. Timely information on the technology, new products, and field experience is critical for successful development and adoption of SSL technology in the United States in pursuit of the realization of the technology's energy savings potential.


DOE strategically partners with private industry and industry associations to accelerate the development and market introduction of SSL. DOE's partnership with the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance (NGLIA) enhances the manufacturing and commercialization focus of the DOE portfolio by utilizing the expertise of this organization of SSL manufacturers. DOE and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) partner on the development of strong lighting industry standards, including needed standards for SSL. DOE also supports the International Energy Agency's (IEA) efforts to harmonize SSL test procedures, testing capabilities, and performance requirements across countries. DOE and the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) collaborate to promote lighting design principles and technologies that improve lighting quality and energy efficiency. And DOE's Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium shares technical information and experiences related to LED street lighting projects, and develops tools to guide informed purchases. These partnerships—and many others—provide valuable input and support for DOE SSL program efforts. Learn more.