Billions in consumer savings at risk from government go-slow

By Jack Hunter.

Governments could block €6.6billion in consumer energy savings by slowing the rapid advance of LED light bulbs in Europe, according to a new report.

The EU is set to phase out all non-directional light bulbs rated energy class C or lower next September, including many halogen bulbs. Industry strongly endorsed the move when it was agreed back in 2009, but now say efficient LED bulbs will not be ready to take over. Government experts will soon vote on a possible two-year delay, backed by market evidence from the European Commission. Italy, Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, France, Portugal and the Czech Republic have publicly supported a delay as recently as January 2015.

But a Danish Energy Agency report published today shatters the evidence for a delay by proving that advanced LEDs are already widely available, with some at price and quality levels only expected in 2025. It also addresses a key concern about the availability of dimmable LED bulbs.

A two year delay would throw away 33 terrawatt hours of electricity, costing €6.6 billion in lost savings as consumers continue to buy inefficient bulbs, the report says. It recommends maintaining the 2016 deadline and even raising the bar to exclude bulbs below class A. Those buying an LED bulb instead of halogens will start making net savings in 8 months, and go on to save €140 per socket over the course of 13 year LED lamp lifetime, according to report co-author CLASP.

A lighting revolution is happening and real, but the pace will slow unless we go ahead with a long-agreed plan to clear the shelves of halogens that seem cheap in the shops, but end up burning a hole in people's wallets. This report shines a light on what is actually happening in the real world. Far from voting for delay, governments should go one step further and remove all bulbs below class A now that clear alternatives are entering the market.