Energy efficient lighting holds major potential for CO2 cuts

Improvements in the energy efficiency of commercial and domestic lighting could make a significant contribution towards the Government's target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% between 1990-2010, according to a discussion paper for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR).1 Policy options for achieving the savings include a voluntary agreement between the Government and the lighting industry, as well as mandatory instruments such as building energy rating schemes and changes to the building regulations.

As part of its policy to curb CO2 emissions, the Government is developing a strategy to promote energy-efficient appliances based on "market transformation" measures designed to encourage energy-efficient products and remove the worst performers (ENDS Report 273, pp 30-31 ). As a next step it will be issuing a series of discussion papers covering specific appliances examining the technical and economic potential for improving efficiency and the measures needed to achieve it.

The first paper, on lighting, was written by the Building Research Energy Conservation Support Unit (BRECSU) and issued for consultation in April. A strategy paper due later this year will set out the likely costs of the various policy options. Similar papers are planned over the coming months on domestic appliances and office equipment, electronics, heating and cooking.

Electricity consumption accounted for 32% of UK CO2 emissions in 1994, with lighting responsible for 20% of consumption (58TWh), or 6.4% of UK CO2 emissions. Within the lighting sector, non-domestic lighting accounted for 71% of electricity use.

Incandescent lights - tungsten filament and tungsten halogen light bulbs - accounted for 38% of lighting energy consumption and linear fluorescent lights made up 54%. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) accounted for just 2% of the total market.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, non-domestic lighting energy consumption is forecast to increase by 44% from 1994 to 2020, with higher growth rates in certain sectors such as retailing. Domestic consumption is expected to rise by 35% due to the increasing number of households.

Using 1994 market data, the paper estimates the "economic and technical potential" (ETP) - the scope for upgrading lighting equipment at an "acceptable" cost - in three areas:

  • Light bulbs, tubes and control gear. This involves replacing tungsten filament bulbs with CFLs and improving the efficiency of linear fluorescent tubes and circuits.

    Assuming that it is economic to replace GLS bulbs with CFLs for all lamps used for more than 250 hours a year, BRECSU estimates this would mean replacing 95% of GLS bulbs used in non-domestic buildings.

  • Greater use of lighting controls, such as presence detectors, and time controls in the service and industry sectors.

  • Improvements in non-domestic lamp efficiency and selection.

    BRECSU adopts the working assumption that these measures are introduced in non-domestic buildings from 2000 onwards as they are refurbished, at a rate of 10% a year. On this basis, it estimates that energy consumption could be reduced by 40% between 1994-2010 under a "business as usual" scenario, saving the equivalent of 4.81 million tonnes of CO2 (as carbon, MtC) at 1994 emission factors (see table ). This represents a 13.5% contribution to the 35-36MtC which will need to be saved on current projections if the UK is to achieve its 20% reduction in emissions between 1990-2010.

    Of this saving, 1.4MtC would come from households. This points to greater potential savings from all domestic appliances than the 2.0MtC suggested in last autumn's DETR consultation paper on energy-efficient consumer products.

    However, the paper identifies some significant barriers to increasing the proportion of energy-efficient lighting. For commercial buildings, these include:

  • A lack of knowledge among many facility managers on energy efficiency and the economic and working benefits of a well designed system.

  • Energy efficiency is often not part of the initial brief to lighting contractors. Non-specialist contractors may lack the skills to design and promote efficient systems.

  • Landlords often prevent energy-efficient systems being installed because they believe that only the tenant will benefit from the low operating costs.

  • After specifying an energy efficient option, the client and designer may later agree to a cheaper and less efficient option because costs have overrun elsewhere in the project.

    In the domestic sector, 69% of households do not own a CFL, according to recent research by the Electricity Association. Of these households, 47% were not intending to buy CFLs because of the initial cost. The other barriers to CFLs with integral ballasts include their shape, size and significant warm-up period.

    To overcome these barriers, the paper outlines several instruments, most of which could be included in a voluntary agreement between the lighting industry and the Government. They include:

  • Withdrawing the least efficient products, such as high-loss ballasts and halo-phosphor coatings.

  • Setting standards for advanced lighting controls.

  • Developing a labelling scheme for lamps or lighting systems to help non-specialist designers and installers create reasonably efficient solutions. An EC Directive will require all light bulbs to carry an energy efficiency label from 2001 (ENDS Report 278, pp 42-43 ).

  • Developing subsidy schemes, such as the Lighting Association's un-ballasted CFL portable light scheme and the Energy Saving Trust's schemes for ballasted CFLs. Limited VAT relief on insulation and energy efficiency measures was introduced in the last Budget and could be extended to cover energy efficient lighting products.

  • Assist with training manufacturers and installers to produce and sell efficient products and design efficient systems.

  • Promote public sector procurement initiatives.

  • As part of the current review of the building regulations, Part L - which lays down energy efficiency requirements for most new buildings - could be tightened to cover existing buildings, and to ensure that energy-efficient products are used. In 1994, 43% of the UK non-domestic stock did not meet the regulations' bulb circuit efficiency requirement of 50 lumens/Watt. The current level concentrates on light bulbs and largely ignores lighting controls and lamp efficiency.

  • Building energy rating schemes could be improved to include the benefits of built-in efficient lighting, and a scheme could be developed for the non-domestic sector.

  • The European Commission is negotiating a voluntary agreement with CELMA, the European lighting manufacturers association, to set higher energy efficiency standards for ballast.

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