LED shortage this year? Maybe.

Overall LED consumption last year came dangerously close to the industry’s total capacity of 75 billion units, indicating that many LED manufacturers were operating nearly flat out. And that was with a punk economy.

Should things pick up this year, well, then, “It is clear that demand is outstripping supply,” said Jagdish Rebello, senior director and principal analyst for wireless research at the market research firm iSuppli Corp. “With LED market growth forecasted to rise by double-digit percentages for at least the next three years—including 2010—a drastic undersupply situation could occur this year unless additional capacity is brought online to meet the increased demand.”

The predicted shortage applies to LEDs used for the backlighting of large-screen LCD-TVs. Consumers like them and TV manufacturers are striving to sell more of the popular appliances.

Unlike notebooks, which typically use 50 LEDs, or monitors, which employ about 100 LEDs, LCD-TVs on average consume anywhere from 300 to 500 LEDs per panel. One problem with LEDs used for backlighting of LCD-TVs is that they have to display a high level of uniformity. So the manufacturing processes for these LEDs must operate under tight constraints.

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