Published on October 11th, 2008 | by Timothy B. Hurst31
European Union Bans Incandescent Light Bulbs
EU energy ministers meeting last week in Luxembourg have given final approval to an EU-wide ban on incandescent light bulbs that would begin in 2010. The switch to energy-saving bulbs, first ordered at last year’s Brussels summit as part of an aggressive energy policy to fight climate change, was approved at the negotiations leading up to a meeting of European heads of state, being held next week.
Traditional incandescent cost around 1/3 as much as standard compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). But the CFLs last longer and use less energy while illuminated. Incandescent filament light bulbs use up to five times as much energy as standard CFLs.
Advocates claim that replacing the worst-performing lamps with today’s best available technology will reduce domestic energy consumption for lighting by 60 percent; equivalent to preventing 30 million tons of CO2 pollution every year. The move would help EU member states meet their proposed emissions reductions of 20% by 2020, targets that may currently be in question because of the lingering economic crisis.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about switch the CFL technology. Opponents to the measure argue that the fluorescent bulbs take a long time to warm up and sometimes have a tendency to flicker. The bulbs are also too big for some (very) old-fashioned fittings and are generally more expensive – although the EU has vowed costs will come down before 2010. CFLs also carry the added baggage of potential health risks and environmental problems because of the mercury found in each bulb.
However, all of the arguments used against compact fluorescents cannot be levied against LED technology. Light emitting diodes, are said to be brighter, safer, and longer lasting than even the best CFL technology. However, until the cost of LEDs comes down, a large-scale switchover to that technology remains several years away. But with directives like this latest one from the EU, it is quite likely that the price of LEDs will come down as businesses ramp-up development and production.
The new light bulb scheme will initially apply to bulbs of 75 watts and higher and the phasing out of the traditional bulbs will come into effect beginning March 1, 2009.
Image credit: laszlo-photo via flickr under a Creative Commons License