Lights Out for Old Bulbs?

Submitted by Charles Frost on Wed, 09/19/2007 - 19:14.

U.S. Plans a Switch To All Fluorescents For Efficiency's Sake

September 13, 2007; Page A8

WASHINGTON -- 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.

Write to John J. Fialka at john [dot] fialka [at] wsj [dot] com and Kathryn Kranhold at kathryn [dot] kranhold [at] wsj [dot] com




A few weeks ago you posted on the GE inventor of the compact fluorescent bulb - invented in 1971, as I recall. But GE didn't put it into production.  Funny, GE is doing the same thing with the Zond wind turbine patent they bought from Enron.

Our US corporations are intentionally stalling, dismantling, and avoiding technologically improved products to protect their profits.  Think electric trolley lines bought by GM and dismantled. Think community wireless

So much for free enterprise as the be all and end all.

Bill, thanks for the insightful posts.

The Chinese use a five-year

The Chinese use a five-year plan that is always rolling.  Government needs to be predictable, timelines not interfering with invested research and development. 
For example, in 2015 all personal vehicle will need to achieve a minimum 35 MPG, then they get a leg up and the research and development make alignments. 
They really need to have time lines that should have happened earlier, I think LED lights will be in the near future.   Compact fluorescents have environmental issues; they will be like batteries contaminating land fills. 
I stopped purchasing GE bulbs; they have intentionally short life, very thin filaments that break easy.   I use florescent were ever I can, but they are not available for all applications.  I am waiting for a LED candelabras, but if esthetics matter and in some applications they do, they are not available yet. 
They could make a LED fixture that never needs replacing, funny actually they can make all kind of things that never need replacing.  Something to think about built in obsolescence.
Lighting is about lumens, pars, and the lowest watts, LED is evolving but in truth, it should be lighting fixtures that last centuries, not bulbs that last years.  It is entirely possible to see coatings or material that when applied to ceiling or walls when charged with a low voltage glow.    

Bioluminescent crystals?   They keep saying how stupid kids are these days but look at what they study.     I think bulbs are the candles of the 20th century.   I think some day building will absorb light in the day and then reflect it at night.  Like glow sticks, LOL