Lighting consumes as much as 382 TWh of electricity per year in Europe, about the same as the residential electricity consumption of France, the UK, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Italy combined.
However, a ‘lighting revolution’ is underway. With super-efficient LED technologies hitting the market, the old concept of bulbs that waste 95% of electricity and break after a year or so is over. This revolution can drive massive energy savings and environmental benefits, but it needs to be supported and accelerated through meaningful policies.
What is the European Union doing?
The European Commission, supported by the European Parliament and national governments, in 2009 agreed to phase-out incandescent bulbs in the domestic sector and put in place Ecodesign standards for office and street lighting. The fruits of these policies are savings to the tune of some 39 TWh per year by 2020. This phase-out left several alternatives on the market, including not-so-efficient ‘eco-classic’ halogen light bulbs that still consume a lot of electricity compared to fluorescent or LED lamps. This decision has been often wrongly perceived by some as forcing everyone to use only compact fluorescent lamps. This is simply not true.
The regulation foresees several implementation steps, including stage 6 which would have removed wasteful halogen light bulbs from the European market by 2016. However, this ban has been frozen for two years following a vote in Brussels in April 2015. This decision, made by the Ecodesign Regulatory Committee of Member State representatives, will wipe out €6.6 billion in energy savings and let household energy bills stay high. It is the first time the EU has rolled back a product-related efficiency law. The long-agreed ban of all non-directional bulbs rated energy class C or lower has been moved from September 2016 to September 2018. More details here.
In late 2012, the Commission published a regulation on directional lamps (e.g. halogen reflector lamps, light emitting diodes (LEDs) and luminaires -equipment designed for installation between the mains and the lamps). This regulation sets Ecodesign and functionality requirements including service life-time, number of switching cycles of the lamps, and maximum starting time. A few months earlier (October 2012), another regulation established an energy label for electrical lamps and luminaires, which became mandatory on 1 September 2013. The combined energy savings from both Ecodesign and Energy Labelling regulations are 25 TWh per year by 2020.
In 2015, the Commission decided to merge these various regulations into one which would cover domestic lighting, commercial indoor & public space lighting. A legislative proposal was presented to the Ecodesign Consultation Forum in December 2015, raising a number of issues as described in our written comments.
What does the Coolproducts campaign want?
- The one-size-fits-all proposal, as it stands today, is too simplistic and will lower energy efficiency standards for commercial & public space lighting. The Commission needs to increase its ambition.
- The Commission should explicitly prohibit the use tolerances by suppliers; See the related blog post.
- The definitions must be improved so that no loopholes remain. In the past, some suppliers have been clearly playing against the spirit of the EU policy. The European Commission risks that this happens again.
- The energy label needs to be more visible at the point of sale, through displaying it on the front side of lamp packaging.
- The issue of luminaires of which the light sources cannot be separated/exchanged needs to be addressed.