Domestic and tertiary lighting consumes about 300 TWh of electricity per year in Europe, about the same as the total electricity consumption of the UK.
However, a “lighting revolution” is underway. With super-efficient LED technologies on the market, the old concept of bulbs that wasted 95% of electricity and broke after a year or two is definitely over. This revolution will drive massive energy savings and environmental benefits, provided it is adequately supported by meaningful policies, and LED lamps are properly recycled at the end of their life.
What is the European Union doing?
The EU started to enforce a phase-out of incandescent bulbs in 2009, while at the same time adopting regulations to improve office and street lighting. The last stage of implementation, initially planned for 2016 and involving the ban of the last “eco-halogen” lamp models, was unfortunately delayed to 2018, which caused a detrimental precedent of rolling back a long-agreed policy (see our story here). Now that the stage has finally entered into force, only LED lamps are allowed for sale for regular consumers. In parallel, an energy label was set on lamps from 1999 onwards.
These policies, leading to an accelerated development and adoption of energy-efficient lamps, saved about 100 TWh of electricity per year, as much as the total electricity consumption of the Netherlands.
In order to simplify the legislation and set further requirements, the European institutions agreed in 2018 on two new regulations, entering into force in 2021: one including all ecodesign requirements for lamps and control gears (with new provisions on the removal of light sources embedded in products), the other one updating the energy label and reverting the scale to a simple A-G.
These new regulations are expected to save a further 40 TWh/year of electricity by 2030.
What does the Coolproducts campaign want?
Regular assessments whether the exemptions included in the regulations and the chromaticity definition of “white light” are exploited as loopholes by some producers;
Further work on the “accelerated endurance testing” used to test the lifetime quality of LEDs; the process currently lasts 5 months – a long time for effective market surveillance and proper reaction in case of non-compliance;
More efforts on requirements for product disassembly and repairability (light sources should always be replaceable, which is not guaranteed by the current regulation);
Increased market surveillance, to ensure no supplier is illegally continuing the sales of inefficient lamp models.