What contribution can photonics make towards protecting the environment and resources? And to what extent does light as a tool contribute to global ecological sustainability? A study by LASER World of PHOTONICS and German industry association SPECTARIS put these questions under the microscope.
In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT Aachen, the Fraunhofer Group for Light & Surfaces, and the Paris-based consultant team TEMATYS, they show that by 2030 photon-ics can develop an indirect climate protection potential of almost three billion metric tons of CO2 equivalents annually. Two thirds of this savings potential can be gained from the consistent energetic use of sunlight via photovoltaics. Energy-efficient lighting and displays, optical processes for early detection of forest fires, optimization of recycling systems, and optical communication via fiber optic networks can also make an important contribution towards climate protection.
In the study, the team of authors analyzed in detail how, in areas such as microprocessor technology or earth observation from space, light can augment human knowledge and pave the way towards an increasingly efficient world of production and processes. New quantum optical processes in measur-ing technology, in imaging, and in communication promise even more efficiency gains. If we can acti-vate these potentials for climate protection, photonics can contribute 11 percent towards the target of the Paris Agreement, says the study.