If energy needs to be saved, there are good ways to do it.
                                                               Government product regulation is not one of them

Friday, October 12, 2012

Banning Light Bulbs an Irrelevant Climate Change Measure: German Parliament Report

Energiesparlampen stoppen nicht den Klimawandel
(Energy saving light bulbs can not stop climate change)

From the German Die Welt newspaper
22 September 2012


Der Kampf gegen Klimaerwärmung und Umweltverschmutzung lässt sich allein durch effizientere Technologie nicht gewinnen. Das ist, vereinfacht gesagt, das Ergebnis des Berichts, den die Arbeitsgruppe drei der Bundestags-Enquetekommission Wachstum, Wohlstand, Lebensqualität am Montag vorstellt und der der "Welt" vorliegt.

Auf mehr als 200 Seiten erklären die Autoren, warum Wirtschaftswachstum und Umweltverbrauch derzeit eben nicht voneinander entkoppelt sind. Diese Erkenntnis ist politisch durchaus brisant: Grüner Konsum – ob durch Energiesparlampen, Hybridautos oder die Energiewende – löst unsere Probleme nicht.

Google translated article, the introduction, clarified translation:

The fight against global warming and environmental pollution can not be won by more efficient technology alone. This is, to put it simply, the result of the report that working group three of the parliamentary commission on economic growth, prosperity, and quality of life presented on Monday also to Die Welt.

Over more than 200 pages, the authors explain why current economic growth and environmental consumption are not just unrelated, but how. The findings are politically explosive throughout: Green consumption - whether by energy-saving bulbs, hybrid cars or the Energiewende energy turning point - does not solve our problems.
(ed- "die Energiewende", Germany's recent decision to abandon nuclear power and go for more wind and solar development along with more stringent energy saving measures, a play on "Die Wende", "turnaround" word, used for the fall of the Berlin Wall 1989, more)

The research report particularly refers to report findings of a "Jevon's paradox" effect whereby energy saving lamps cheaper to use are therefore simply used more, negating supposed savings.
This is nothing new, though of course continually ignored by most politicians.
As Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute has noted, already in 1987 the town of Traer, Iowa handed out 18,000 free fluorescent bulbs to its residents in a demonstration project aimed at reducing power consumption. Residential electricity use actually rose by 8 percent, because people used more lights and kept them on longer, once they realized their lighting was cheaper (more).

However, this is just one of many reasons why the supposed energy or CO2 savings aren't there, as extensively laid out and referenced in the "How Bans are Wrongly Justified" energy/emission section.

In summary, whatever one's opinion on global warming and any man made CO2 contribution, light bulbs of course don't burn coal or release CO2 anyway
- if there is a problem, deal with the problem.
There are as seen much more relevant savings measures from electricity generation through grid distribution (including new "smart grid" systems) through alternative consumption saving measures.

Society savings are as officially referenced (EU Commission, US Dept of Energy data) a fraction of 1% of EU/US energy use - even before the also rferenced greater life cycle (manufacturing, transport, recycling) energy use of the more complex replacement lighting alternatives.

Power plant off-peak night time electricity production, when greatest incandescent lighting use occurs, is about using below capacity power plant use and even the burning of surplus coal (coal plants being slow expensive and difficult to turn up and down from higher daytime demand levels) - making bulb use irrelevant anyway.
Meanwhile, peaktime electricity use from additional quicker firing gas or hydro turbines involve lower CO2 emissions than coal anyway... and coal CO2 emissions can in themselves be lowered in various ways.
Again, the CO2 reductions they themselves plan in electricity production, are completely ignored by ban-happy politicians extrapolating old figures forwards to give suitably large savings figures for eager uncritical journalists to swallow.

There are even specific reasons why CO2 may rise rather than fall from banning incandescents, as the several referenced research institutes point out, when incandescent heat derived from "clean" electricity sources is replaced by fossil fuel burning room heating sources.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Changing lightbulbs is good for people who are not very bright themselves.