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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

China and the US moving towards light bulb bans?
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, both China and the US are moving towards bans of domestic incandescent light bulbs...

This is great news, but as you will see below their are reasons to be concerned that the lighting industry will be left to determine what the new minimum energy performance standards of domestic light bulbs should be and how long should be allowed for everyone to stop using incandescent light bulbs.

Ban The Bulb feels the minimum energy performance standards should:

(1) Be the same or better than today's compact fluorescent lamps and

(2) That no more than 5 years should be allowed before 100W and 60W incandescents are phased out.

The House and Senate are working on legislation that over the next seven years would phase out the conventional light bulb, a move aimed at saving energy and reducing man-made emissions believed linked to climate change.

General Electric Co., Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands and other manufacturers have been meeting with conservation and environmental groups and say they are close to agreement on the general terms of a phaseout. Bipartisan coalitions in Congress are likely to add these terms to a broad energy bill expected to be voted on next month.

While manufacturers voiced some concerns about producing enough bulbs to meet the new deadlines, they emphasized that they want prompt federal legislation that would prevent states from setting their own standards, creating a patchwork of differing requirements. Nevada has already set its own standard, and California is considering one.

Paul Waide, a policy analyst with the International Energy Agency, based in Paris, told the Senate Energy Committee yesterday that the European Union, Canada and Australia are planning similar phaseouts of conventional incandescent bulbs, and China is beginning to consider one.

"It is not inconceivable that over the next 10 to 15 years that maybe all incandescent lights will be removed from the global market," he said. If that happened, he added, the resulting reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions might equal almost three-fourths of the reductions that industrial nations have promised under the Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming.

The U.S., which has four billion electric lights using such bulbs, represents about a third of the world market. Installing more-efficient incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs would save consumers about $6 billion a year in energy costs, said Jeffrey Harris, a vice president of the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit group based in Washington.

Common incandescent bulbs, which have been around for more than 100 years, are able to convert only 5% of the electricity they use into visible light. The rest is lost as heat.

Under the timetable proposed in both House and Senate versions, incandescent bulbs would begin to disappear from U.S. markets beginning in 2012, with 100-watt bulbs going first, then 75-watt bulbs a year later and then the more popular 60- and 40-watt bulbs by 2014.

They would be replaced by compact fluorescent bulbs and more-efficient incandescent lamps, which can cut energy use from 30% to 75%. By 2020, both bills call for lighting standards that can only be met by the compact fluorescents or other technologies that can match their efficiency.

Manufacturers hope to use a few different technologies to meet the proposed standards, but they say it will be a challenge getting new lamps out by 2012, the proposed starting date. The manufacturers also had initially been looking for a longer phaseout period of five years instead of three.

Randy Moorehead, vice president of government relations for Philips Electronics, North America, said the industry mostly supports the phase-in period but has problems with the 2020 proposed standards. Mr. Moorehead said Congress should wait to set a 2020 standard to see where the technology is headed. He said manufacturers will have to scrap new multimillion-dollar investments in equipment and employees to meet 2012 standards.

GE had announced a new energy-efficient incandescent lamp that will be 30% more efficient by 2012. GE plans to roll out the first version in 2010. GE indicated the bulb would likely be comparable to a 60-watt or 40-watt bulb. Osram Sylvania, a unit of Siemens AG, is also introducing an energy-efficient incandescent bulb.

Philips is unveiling a halogen light this fall that will be markedly more efficient and three times longer-lasting than incandescent bulbs -- but will also be more expensive initially than compact and incandescent bulbs.

GE and the two other big light bulb makers, Philips and Osram Sylvania, also are looking at light emitting diodes, or LEDS, as new sources of residential lighting. "We'll certainly fill in any gaps with other technologies," says Earl Jones, senior counsel for GE's consumer-and-industrial unit.

Nearly all compact fluorescent bulbs are made in China. Although they cost more than conventional bulbs, the energy savings over their longer lifetimes are substantial. Noting that only 10% of bulbs sold in the U.S. are compact fluorescents, Kyle Pitsor, vice president of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, said the industry will mount a public-education campaign to push the more efficient bulbs.

BTB is deeply concerned that some of the world's biggest light bulb manufacturers, such as Philips and GE, are lobbying to be allowed to sell the next generation of incandescent light bulbs, which use 30% less electricity that today's models, and are not focusing their efforts on scaling up the production of compacts fluorescent lamps which already offer 75% energy savings.

The motives for this move remain unclear. However, it seems crazy to halve the effectiveness of the world's proposed light bulb bans, for no apparent reason, and BTB hopes that all of the big manufacturers will consider refocusing their efforts on bringing more compact fluorescent lamps to market and developing new technologies, such as LEDs and ceramic lighting technologies, which will significantly improve on what is already possible with CFLs.

Ban The Bulb supports measures which are technology neutral, and is not opposed to incandescents on principle, but is not prepared to endorse minimum standards which encourage the unnecessary waste of money, energy and carbon and delay changes which are already feasible.

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