Market News

 February 23, 2007
Australia to ban incandescent light bulbs

 Replace two frequently-used light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
The new bulbs will last longer and use less energy, which means less pollution from power plants. Your household would save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If every household in the United States did it, we would save a trillion pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere!
(Source National Geographic)

Sydney, Australia (GLOBE-Net) -- Australia will be the first country in the world to ban traditional incandescent light bulbs, says Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. According to the plan, yellow incandescent bulbs will be replaced by more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs by 2009.

"By that stage you simply won't be able to buy incandescent light bulbs, because they won't meet the energy standard," said Turnbull, report media outlets.

The government predicts the move will reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 800,000 tonnes per year from 2008-2012. By 2015, the annual reductions will total 4 million tonnes (Mt), says the Environment Ministry.

Australia's total greenhouse emissions in 2004 were 564.7 Mt. Lighting currently represents around 12 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from Australian households, and around 25 per cent of emissions from the commercial sector.

The move will also reduce household power costs by up to 66 percent, said Turnbull. The government will gradually phase out all inefficient light bulbs and plans to enforce new lighting standards legislation by 2009 to 2010, taking special areas such as lighting and oven lights into consideration.

Traditional incandescent light bulbs have not changed substantially in over 100 years, and much of their energy consumption is wasted in the production of heat. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) convert more electricity directly to light, using over 80% less energy and lasting up to ten times as long. The bulbs are currently more expensive than incandescents, but the longevity and power savings make them cost-effective for households and businesses.

Yet CFLs only account for 6% of the lighting market and represent a minor share of light production in the residential sector, reports the International Energy Agency (IEA). An IEA study, Barriers to Technology Diffusion: The Case of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (PDF), identified challenges that include high initial costs, mistrust of the technology due to now-resolved past issues, incomplete information, and the difficulties in altering consumer habits.

The same study recommended that the "complete phase-out of incandescent lamps may notably constitute an achievable policy objective". Replacing all incandescent bulbs with CFLs would substantially reduce energy consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 470 Mt in 2010, says the IEA.

The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC-EC) also released a report showing that conversion to compact fluorescent lamps could save Europe the equivalent of the total annual electricity consumption of about 4 million households.

Jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and California are also considering regulations to accelerate the adoption of efficient lighting technologies. China, in its drive to improve the energy intensity of its booming economy, is the world leader in producing and installing compact fluorescent light bulbs.

The Ontario government said that it may also consider banning incandescent bulbs, projecting that a province-wide shift to CFLs would allow one large coal plant to be shut down.

The use of CFLs does pose a new challenge however, as a small amount of mercury is used to help ignite the gas inside each bulb. CFLs still result in less life cycle mercury emissions than incandescent bulbs used in areas that generate power from coal, but widespread adoption will create a need for bulb recycling. The Australian lighting industry is discussing options with the government for product stewardship management, as the cost of recycling can be quite high.

Artificial light production accounts for around 8% of worldwide energy consumption, and a similar share of greenhouse gas emissions. Along with CFLs, 'smart' lighting control systems, green building techniques that maximize natural lighting, and other emerging technologies represent opportunities for energy efficiency gains that will produce economic and environmental benefits.

For example, Ottawa-based Group IV Semiconductor Inc. says its new 'solid-state' technology, which uses semiconductors to produce light, is ten times more efficient than conventional lighting, with a lifespan that is ten times longer than compact fluorescents.

A Canadian firm develops new lighting technology

Fifth Light Technology Ltd. of Oakville, Ontario, has developed a lighting control system that can produce 30 to 60 percent energy savings for commercial buildings and extend the lifespan of fluorescent lighting equipment. The technology utilizes a unique, patented controller system that, for the first time, allows fluorescent lighting systems using magnetic ballasts to be dimmed. The system allows for the individual, automated control of each lighting fixture in a building, in step with lighting needs and the time of day.