Friday, October 13, 2006

Low energy lighting - the challenges

The energy used in lighting worldwide could be 80% higher in 2030 than today if no action is taken to hold back the expected surge in demand, according to the International Energy Agency.

But, says its executive director Claude Mandil, "if we simply make better use of today's edition lighting technologies and techniques, the global demand need be no greater than today."

Lighting currently consumes more electricity than is produced by either hydro or nuclear power and results in carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to about 70% of the world's cars.

At the G8's Gleneagles summit of July 2005 the IEA was asked to come up with recommendations for lighting efficiency. It found in a report published a year later that lighting is routinely supplied to spaces where no one is present and/or far brighter than it needs to be.

Even more savings could be realised through the intelligent use of controls, lighting levels and daylight. Mandil says that following such simple measures would save more than 16,000 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and 2,600 billion US dollars through reduced energy and maintenance costs.

The International Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) Harmonisation Initiative is seeking a single international testing method to measure energy efficiency, which will reduce manufacturing cost, make it easier for manufacturers to sell their products throughout the world, and facilitate more effective regulation.

This should help promote universal market penetration of the bulbs.

Light Emitting Diodes

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are much more efficient than even CFLs, and will last a lot longer. The Market Transformation Programme (MTP) has estimated that LED lighting in homes could save 12.7 terawatt hours per annum by 2020.

Despite this, in countries like the UK, the choice of which lamp to buy is not so much based on running costs as on style. If LEDs are to make an impact on the domestic lighting market policies will need to be developed that will encourage synchronous development of them together with the luminaires that use them.

Manufacturers will not start to use LEDs in their designs unless they are encouraged to.

LEDs have several major benefits: they are long-lived, they provide the kind of sparkle light effect popular in the home, and they already exceed the energy efficiency of tungsten filament and trunks and halogen lamps.

If a luminaire is well-designed, the bulbs can last for all the usable lifetime of the luminaire itself. This means from a builder's point of view, they can be placed in inaccessible places. Even fittings used for six to eight hours a day would last between 17 and 20 years.

The drawback with CFLs is that even the "warm white" lamps have a colder appearance than GLS bulbs. It is partly for this reason that tungsten halogen lamps have made large intrusions into domestic lighting, and also office lighting.

However the newest white light LEDs are giving about 70 lumens per watt, expected to rise to 160 by 2020.

The MTP hopes that the Lighting Association's DEELs programme can be extended to include LED luminaires.

A good DEEL in the UK

Over £3,500,000 of The Lighting Association's DEELS (Domestic Energy Efficient Luminaire Scheme) subsidies have been claimed so far, equivalent to over 706,000 energy efficient products in the marketplace.

DEELS enables the retail of energy efficient luminaires at the same competitive price as conventional (GLS) luminaires. This gives the more energy conscious customer an increasing variety of designs at realistic prices, whilst saving on their energy costs. The manufacturers of the lights are subsidised per lamp and ballast used in each approved product.

In addition, over 928,000 energy efficient lamps have been supplied by the Energy Efficient Lamp Scheme (EELS) for independent retailers. This is because independent stores could not compete with major retailers on price where compact fluorescent lights are concerned. The Lighting Association therefore purchases them wholesale just like a large company such as IKEA, which is able to sell them for under £1.

This scheme establishes a competitive route to market for energy efficient lamps. Assured that the lamps are of the highest quality, retailers also have a large choice of styles, including stick, look-a-like, candle look-a-like, halogen and a variety of wattage and cap types.

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