Humble LED lightbulb enters Ukrainian resistance fight

The St Sophia Cathedral silhouetted in the background, as Kyiv is plunged into near darkness following a drone strike. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS - Taken for granted by most consumers in rich countries, the humble LED lightbulb was identified on Tuesday as a strategic ally for Ukraine as Kyiv seeks to resist Russian bombing of its power grid.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky highlighted how replacing the country’s old-style incandescent bulbs by modern LED versions would help the country escape blackouts this winter.

“It maybe doesn’t seem very important, but fifty million LED lamps will allow us to save one gigawatt of power,” he told an international aid conference in Paris attended by around 70 states and international organisations.

Large parts of Ukraine face blackouts and regular load-shedding as the country’s power grid buckles under repeated Russian air strikes.

Mr Zelensky said the current power shortfall in the country was around 2.5 gigawatts per day, meaning 50 million LED lightbulbs would reduce this by 40 per cent.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen immediately announced that the European Union would fund the purchase of 30 million LED lightbulbs for 30 million euros (S$43 million).

They are 88 per cent more efficient than traditional ones, she estimated.

“The savings are crucial to reduce the pressure that we have on the power grid now,” Ms Von der Leyen said.

“In these times of suffering and darkness, it is so important to bring light to Ukraine,” she added.

Mr Zelensky estimated that Ukraine needed around 800 million euros in emergency aid in total for its energy sector in the face of Russia’s onslaught.

The country is desperately seeking spare parts to repair its power lines, as well as transformers, gas turbines and generators to keep the lights on.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who also championed the idea of LED lighting for Ukraine, condemned Russia’s “cynical” and “cowardly” attacks on civilian infrastructure.

“These strikes… which Russia openly admits are designed to break the resistance of the Ukrainian people, are war crimes,” he said in an opening speech.

“They violate without any doubt the most basic principals of humanitarian law. These acts are intolerable and will not go unpunished.” AFP

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