The Ban The Bulb energy efficiency campaign is one of Dr Matt Prescott's environmental projects  | Contact BTB  
     Energy Saving Day (E-Day) | Oxford Earth Summit | Earth Summit Info | Environmental Rating Agency | "Heat" | 100 Years
                   Please contact Matt if you would like to support Ban The Bulb or next year's Energy Saving Day (E-Day) 
              A campaign to save money and help the environment by using energy efficient light bulbs

Sunday, August 30, 2009

EurActiv : Updates on lead up to EU 100W light bulb ban
In October 2008, EU energy ministers invited the European Commission to draft a regulation to phase out the sale of all incandescent and poorly-performing light bulbs by 2010. This is to be done within the framework of the Eco-design Directive (see EurActiv LinksDossier), which provides performance requirements for energy-using products.

The European Parliament gave its green light to a phase-out of incandescent light bulbs on 17 February after an attempt by a group of MEPs to block the regulation was rejected (EurActiv 18/02/09).

The Commission officially adopted a regulation to improve the energy efficiency on non-directional household lamps on 19 March 2009 (EurActiv 19/03/09). The measure will gradually phase out all incandescent light bulbs and inefficient halogens by 2012 in favour of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or efficient halogens.

In March, the European Commission adopted a new regulation to gradually phase out all incandescent light bulbs and inefficient halogens between 1 September and 2012. The ban was intended to help in the EU’' fight against climate change as the EU executive estimates that a move to efficient halogens and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) could slash the EU's CO2 emissions by about 15 million tons every year.

The beneficiary, so the Commission believes, will be the consumer as a household will "save easily" €50 (£40) a year due to lower electricity consumption and the longer lifetime of the new lamps that will compensate for the higher purchase price.

In anticipation of the new rules, the sales of traditional light bulbs fell by as much as 35% in many European countries in the first quarter of 2009, according to the market research company Gfk. At the same time, energy-saving light bulbs have steadily increased their market share. In the UK, for example, 12.3 million were sold in the last quarter of 2008 compared with 8.9 million in the same period a year earlier.

Osram, a leading lighting manufacturer, reported that green products now account for 65% of its sales and it hopes for a boost to 80% in the coming years.

"The big trend is energy efficiency" said Martin Goetzeler, CEO of Osram, adding that the EU decision would give a further boost to technological change.

Consumers argue that CFL bulbs cannot match the light quality of incandescent bulbs, saying that they are two dim and distort colours. Moreover, concerns have been raised that the flickering fluorescent light could trigger migraines or epilepsy seizures.

Some also question the greenness of CFLs, which contain mercury and require proper recycling facilities. However, as coal-fired stations emit mercury, incandescent light bulbs indirectly emit more mercury by using up larger amounts of electricity, experts noticed.

The economic and environmental argument against incandescent lights is nevertheless convincing as they convert only around 5% of the energy they use to light, wasting the rest as heat. Fluorescent lights use up to 75% less energy than incandescent lamps, while efficient halogens that match the light quality of conventional bulbs save somewhere between 25-50% of energy.

On 17 February MEPs backed European Commission proposals to extend the scope of the Eco-design Directive and the Ecolabel, but rejected proposals to include food products in the plans.

The European Parliament's environment committee voted on a report to cover all products with an impact on energy use, such as windows, insulation materials and water-using devices, in the EU's Eco-design Directive (EurActiv 24/10/08). Currently, only devices that directly use energy are part of the scheme.

MEPs, however, rejected a proposal from the rapporteur, Romanian MEP Magor Imre Csibi (ALDE), to go as far as including all products except means of transport. This would have effectively mandated the Commission to set minimum energy requirements for food and clothes, for example.

The committee consequently requested the Commission to come up with a proposal by 2012, extending the scope only to "non-energy-related products" with "significant potential for reducing their environmental impacts throughout their whole life-cycle".

Backing on traditional light bulb ban

At the same time, MEPs also voted on whether to block the Commission's implementing measure to phase out incandescent and inefficient halogen light bulbs by 2012. The EU executive proposed the measure under the Eco-design Directive in December 2008 (EurActiv 09/12/08).

German MEPs Holger Krahmer (ALDE) and Anja Weisgerber (EPP-ED) had drafted a resolution arguing that the regulatory committee's procedure, which excludes the Parliament from decision-making, was not justified for the banning of a product like light bulbs. An overwhelming majority of MEPs nevertheless voted against it, effectively endorsing the Commission's proposal.