The Developing World Can Afford to Light Itself Up (It Just Needs a Wee Bit of Help!)

Dave Irvine-Halliday

Dave Irvine-Halliday
Light Up The World Foundation (LUTW)

Monday, December 12th, 2005 – 10:30 AM MST
Telus Convention Centre 8th Ave SE, Calgary


Light Up The World Foundation (LUTW) is an international humanitarian organization dedicated to illuminating the lives of the world's poor. It is the first humanitarian organization to utilize White Light Emitting Diode (WLED) or Solid State Lighting (SSL) technologies to bring affordable, safe, healthy, efficient, and environmentally responsible lighting to people currently without access to proper lighting. LUTW remains the world leader, is truly globally active and is setting the standards in this field.

Dr. Dave Irvine-Halliday, LUTW University Professor at the University of Calgary envisioned LUTW during his sabbatical in Nepal in 1997 where he was helping the Institute of Engineering, University of Tribhuvan in Kathmandu with its electrical engineering degree. During the trip, Dr. Irvine-Halliday was dismayed at the living conditions of villagers whose only source of light after sunset was that produced by dangerous and unhealthy kerosene lamps. He was especially concerned about the children who had to work all day and whose only opportunity to study was by kerosene light, with the risk of unhealthy fumes and fire. Using his background in photonics Dave investigated the option of applying WLED technology to light village households. Since then the LUTW initiative has grown from field testing of the various WLED lamps in a number of remote Himalayan villages to successful installations of complete home lighting systems in numerous countries in the developing world and also with the aboriginal community in Canada.

LUTW lighting technology is safe, healthy, durable, affordable and with a much lower overall cost than kerosene. The WLED lamps are typically 2 to 4 times more efficient than traditional incandescent lamps. An entire village can often be lit with less energy than that used by a single conventional 100 Watt light bulb. Used four hours a day, WLEDs will last more than 20 years. WLEDs are physically robust and can withstand severe shock and vibration. LUTW's lamps have been in the field for over 5 years and have proven to be 100% reliable.

LUTW's goal of replacing fuel-based lighting with WLED technologies has tremendous potential to make positive social, economic and environmental changes both in the developing and developed world. LUTW projects have proven to be transformative and brought tangible gains to the communities around the world through:

  • enhanced education and literacy of children being able to read and do schoolwork after sunset;
  • improved economic productivity for both men and women and enhanced opportunities for home-based industry;
  • improved human health and safety due to reduction in smoke and decreased risk of fires from spilled or broken kerosene lamps and candles;
  • environmental benefits due to reduction in kerosene use which reduces emissions and improves air quality;
  • the creation of wealth as Solid State Lighting is so much cheaper than kerosene or candles.

Since inception, through the generous support from interested individuals, host country organizations, governments, international foundations and industrial partners, LUTW and its partners have lit up more than 8,000 homes in numerous countries including Afghanistan, Bolivia, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Over 50,000 people have been impacted directly and LUTW's goal of reaching the approximately 2 billion people worldwide without access to adequate lighting is ongoing.

LUTW has been able to accomplish all of its success with minimal financial resources and a very small staff. This will be amplified many fold with adequate funding, which will bring down the cost of our technology, nurture host country micro enterprise and reach into vast areas where lighting is non-existent and sorely needed. Micro Credit is absolutely necessary for the developing world to light itself up!


Dr. Dave Irvine-Halliday, P.Eng., was born and educated in Scotland and after a nine year spell in Canada, followed by a few years back home, then a few more in Australia, finally decided in 1982 that the University of Calgary was to be his final work place.

His research areas have included: the optical properties of biological tissue with regard to the measurement of strain and the healing process, and intercellular photonic communication; the use of the fiber optic gyroscope in the precision drilling of horizontal oil and gas wells; and the networking of fiber optic electrical current (AC & DC) sensors.

Nowadays, thanks to receiving a University Professorship, Dave only works and teaches in the area of Solid State Lighting and Renewable Energy for the Developing World.

In 1997 Dave was the Founder of Light Up The World, which has evolved into the LUTW Foundation with a full time CEO and staff. To date LUTW is close to bringing the Gift of Light to nearly 10,000 homes in 25 countries. Along the way Dave and LUTW have received many awards including the prestigious Rolex, Tech Museum, Saatchi & Saatchi and Reader's Digest Hero of the Year Awards, as well as receiving the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) from the Government of Canada.

As Dave likes to say, "Apart from marrying Jenny, and having two wonderful children, Rachel and Gregor, LUTW is the most important thing I will ever do in my life and I am living my dream!