Sunday 14 June 2009

The EU in German blogs (1): The light bulb ban

Yesterday, the German blog Duckhome published a longer article on the EU's light bulb ban.

The blogger is asking for active resistance by citizens against the goals of the directive by buying large stocks of old-fashioned light bulbs before they will be forbidden from September (i.e. the first category of high energy light bulbs):
In her kindliness, the EU that regulates everything from salad cucumber curvature to the size of condoms in the best bureaucratic manner, has decided to do something nice for the European producers of energy saving lamps. [...]

Her calculations on energy saving are absolute horseplay since the life expectancy is limited to two years, which makes these lamps very expensive, and in addition you can expect that their illegal disposal will bring a lot of mercury into the environment. [...]

But this time it is simple for the citizen. You can resist. Those who are clever buy a five year stock of 100 watt light bulbs and do the same in 2011 with other kinds of light bulbs. This is an manageable investment, and light bulbs, different to pears, do not lose value if stocked.
(own translation)
The (known) arguments brought forward by Duckhome are that a) the energy savings are only minor and that b) in the near future LEDs will become affordable and can thus replace the unnecessary switch to classical energy saving lamps.

This is the first example of the image of the EU on the national level: A regulator of little details which are already antiquated as soon as the regulation is in place.

Related articles of mine:


Antal Dániel said...

Another twist in the story is that the current energy saving technology that pre-dates the LED technology is not available at a reasonable price because of an anti-dumping high custom applied by the Commission on Chinese energy saving units. Without the ban and the duty most of the bulbs would have gone anyway because energy saving bulbs would be so cheap if they would be allowed to the market. (The special market protection was granted on request from European bulb producers to to gain time till they become competitive with their Chinese counterparts).

Jon Worth said...

Daniel - true... and while we're at it the compact energy saving ones also contain traces of mercury so have to be disposed of carefully!

However let's not get stuck on that. The issue here is what - if anything - the EU can do to foster the adoption of next technologies. I am sure someone would have mentioned the LED thing and can just imagine all the conservative Member States in the Council rejecting something that would be really useful and radical, and going for the half-way-house solution instead. C'est la vie.

Lighthouse said...

As Antal and Jon say, people are not buying CFLs ('energy saving' lights) and LEDs are on the way.

OK if LEDs are going to be so great, then presumably people will want to buy them!

That of course lessens the need for any ban anyway.

Compare: When transistors came, noone banned the radio valve (tube) !
They still exist today, a small market, for people who want them.

The light bulb ban is completely unnecessary anyway

Odd to sacrifice simple safe bulbs for complex
environmentally questionable CFLs anyway:

There is no energy supply shortage in society, and consumers can decide for themselves between the advantages that all types of lighting have, including of course light bulbs with their quick response bright broad spectrum light.
Who is paying for the electricity anyway?
The consumer of course.

As for emissions, light bulbs don't give out gases, power stations do, and their emissions can be dealt with directly in several ways, as described on onwards

The savings of a ban are low anyway for all reasons given on onwards.

Even if light bulbs needed to be targeted (they don't)
taxation would be more logical, as it lowers use and gives government income that can be used to further lower emissions more than any remaining light bulb use causes them.
See onwards
(including comment on Megaman in Germany's tax suggestion)