EU domestic lighting efficiency gain urged

Compact fluorescent lights could dramatically cut EU lighting power use, say researchers

Electricity consumption by domestic lighting in the EU could be dramatically cut through greater use of compact fluorescent light bulbs, but the potential savings will not be realised without strong government action, a European research group has reported.

In what is claimed to be the most in-depth study of the issue carried out in the EU, the Swedish, German and British researchers say that power consumption by domestic lighting is much larger than previously realised. The achievement of a big efficiency gain could therefore help significantly towards meeting the EU's Kyoto commitment to cut greenhouse gases.

Based on detailed studies in Sweden, Germany and the UK, the researchers calculate that EU domestic lighting currently consumes 86TWh of electricity, or 17% of all domestic demand. In the case of Germany and the UK, the study shows that electricity use by domestic lighting is at least double previous estimates, they say.

Under a reference scenario the researchers project an increase in consumption by lighting to 102TWh by 2020. But they estimate that 2020 consumption could be 43% lower than this if 80% of household bulbs were compact fluorescents (CFLs) by then.

Taking Sweden, Germany and the UK together, the researchers say, the total savings could be 25.5TWh by 2020, representing almost 30% of current EU lighting electricity use and saving 4.1m tonnes of carbon emissions.

CFLs are 60% more energy efficient than the incandescent light bulbs that account for about 70% of all bulbs in the EU, according to the researchers. However, only 30% of households in the EU have at least one CFL

Denmark and the Netherlands have the highest use of CFLs, which the researchers say is due to extensive public promotional campaigns. They say consumer "ignorance and uncertainty" must be combated through market transformation strategies at EU and national levels.

One Swedish researcher told ENDS Daily that the sale of CFLs in Sweden more than doubled following a public promotion campaign earlier this year. She stressed that people's perception of the environmental effects of lighting needed to be changed. "Nobody thinks that lighting is such a big issue, it's been a forgotten area," she said.

A spokesperson for the European electricity industry association Eurelectric told ENDS Daily that CFL promotion was "seen as highly significant for energy efficiency". Eurelectric recently agreed a research programme with the European Commission into ways of reducing the environmental impact of electricity use, including cooperation with companies to increase the market penetration of CFLs (ENDS Daily 2 July).

Follow Up:
Environmental Change Unit, University of Oxford, tel: +44 1865 281 180. References: "DELight: Domestic Efficient Lighting".

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