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

Friday, March 30, 2012

More Fun and Games in the European Union

Updated March 30, first posted March 29

While people like me simply comment on light bulb issues,
we should acknowledge our heoroes on the coal face (pun intended), like Howard Brandston in the USA and Kevan Shaw in bonnie Scotland, who actually have to deal with the intransigient legislators!

As covered previously,
Howard was involved in the hearings preceding the US 2007 legislation, and has
commented about it in a worthy e-book read (co-authored with Michael P Leahy, as reviewed).
He has continued to be a lone voice among invited speakers at Congress hearings, such as the one by the Senate Energy Committee last year, and is currently getting a Facebook campaign together, for the general public as well as those with special interest in the issue.

Meanwhile Kevan has do battle with a never ending stream of EU regulation proposals (who knew there were so many lamp types ;-)), moreover written in incomprehensible English, as some of us have seen.
And, similarly to Howard, he is not just as a lighting designer "stakeholder", but also more broadly defending the needs on the public, including those with light sensitivity issues.

Before getting into this, to those not familiar with the EU:
The basic workings of the EU is covered in the introductory section to the Ceolas.net coverage of how the EU Light Bulb Ban came about, "Fun and Games in the European Union", http://ceolas.net/#euban.

So day-to-day it is run by something called the European Commission,
headed up by an unelected body of political cronies called Commissioners, with immense legislative and executive power - they have sole right to initiate legislation concerning all EU members, and also to see that the legislation is carried out.
[The mis-named "European Parliament" is basically a glorified talking shop, and like the nominally overseeing Council of Ministers, usually rubber stamp Commission decisions, with some comment or other addendum, to justify their existence.
Also, because Council decisions are more and more taken by qualified majority, any objecting party has to win over others, which becomes even less likely in the scenario where ministers jet in at regular intervals to sign off on reams of legislation that their COREPER bureaucrat armies stick under their noses]

It should be said that the Commission system had a certain logic when it was known as the High Authority, overseeing coal and steel production for 6 member states, but hardly nowadays.
A particular problem is that money keeps going missing - literally.
The Commission's own accountants have refused to sign off on the accounts for nearly 2 decades now! 2011 report, BBC report in 2007 here.
Insider critical accounts by those directly involved in EU accounting include Marta Andreasen, "Brussels Laid Bare", Paul van Buitenen, "Blowing the Whistle: Fraud in the European Commission", Bernard Connolly, "The Rotten Heart of Europe".
Needless to say they were bumped off rather than praised, while their corrupt masters either stayed in their jobs or got fat pay-offs for their Great Service.

So why do national governments play ball?
Because they also gain in the way the financing works.
The EU Budget was set up as a Gross rather than Net payment system, meaning that net gain countries like Greece make nominal initial contributions, basically to make them feel equal to others.
So countries pay in gross amounts, which they then do everything they can to claw back in all sorts of ways, in agricultural and local spending.
Needless to say the less clearly the money is sloshed around, the better for all concerned.
It is made worse still in that the EU, to win hearts and minds with minimal financial input, often requires "matching local funds" for local projects that they then stick their flag on and brag about - a funding mishmash that again makes auditing difficult.

So it is a Big Circle Game, and a pointless and enormously wasteful one, because the Budget system could of course be run on a Net Pay system: So for example Country X does not pay in 1 billion and desperately claws back 300 million, but simply pays in 700 million for pure EU cross-border project spending - and is responsible for its own local spending, therefore with less waste.
Put another way, it means that all EU Projects are directly financed and monitored instead.

The Commission has lots of Commissioners to satisfy 27 countries, giving obscure "matchstick-making" type responsibilities (look up ec.europa.eu) so everyone has a hook to hang their hat on (with lots of side-hooks for "directorates", departments, committees, and hangaround friends and cronies).

One eager committee is the Committee concerned with Eco-Design in the EU (suitably Orwellian sounding), setting energy efficiency standards on all kinds of products, including lighting.
It should be said that in a free market economy it is perfectly right and understandable to set standards so that products may be graded and more easily traded and sold, with everyone knowing what they are getting.
However, that of course does not necessitate banning products, that are otherwise safe to use.
The lack of logic in all other respects in which the Eco-design committee operates is seen in the Deception arguments 13-point rundown, as seen below or on separate page.

For some kind of legitimacy, this Committee, like other EU institutional organs, pretends - pretends seems to be the operative word - to take into account the wishes of "stakeholders", those with an interest in the legislation at hand (which, interestingly, is never assumed to be the ordinary consumer - the way that EU institutions deal with EU citizens is also dealt with in the account of how the EU ban on light bulbs came about, on the Ceolas.net site).

As a topical point, now on 1 April 2012 with big fanfare the EU will open its "Citizen's Initiative", a 1 million citizen petition system which was also cited as a means for those against the light bulb ban to voice their protest. More about this, and the initiative itself on the Ceolas.net site, http://ceolas.net/#citizenInit. The official EU site about it is here.
As seen the rigorous conditions and all the data required (name, address, place and date of birth, passport number etc for signatures) makes it next to impossible - and then the Commission can reject and alter any proposal anyway!

It is called "European Democracy", folks.

Enter Stakeholder Kevan.

From his blog, the following interesting posts,
edited extracts.

From March 27 post:

Bye bye T12 Fluorescent Lamps

While there has been much concern over the majority of the EcoDesign legislation on lighting emanating from Europe, there has been little attention paid to the impacts of the “Tertiary Lamps” rules.

April 1 2012 sees the banning in Europe of the manufacture and sale of T12 fluorescent tubes.
There are many millions of these older lamps and fitting still in daily use so this legislation will impact on many small businesses who are faced with having to change not just lamps but all their fittings. These lamps are also still in widespread use in the transport sector and can still be seen in London Tube trains of the 1960s and railway carriages in many countries dating from similar periods. So should we welcome this necessity to change at this time?

Kevan seems willing to concede an energy saving justification to their ban compared to other lighting, but the same principles clearly apply to them, in that energy saving mandates change product characteristics, that overall energy savings are limited, and that any "low price giving market failure" argument does not hold up and can be dealt with by several other policies if it did, as per the argumentation rundown on this blog.

T12 types are also being banned in the USA from July 14 2012: more.
I will likely follow this up in another post.

Earlier, more obvious hassle with the European Union...
(amazing news: those who run the EU don't like criticism - let alone any open debate)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
They knoweth not what they do!

I have upset the EU by blogging the impact of the draft legislation on reflector lamps!

I received a call on Friday from Andras Toth, policy officer at the Directorate General for Energy
[and overseeing the Eco-Design Committee] in response to articles in the Daily Mail and Daily Express last week.
He believed that my previous blog on this issue had been the source of these, as usual inflammatory, articles.
It was clear from the conversation that there was no intention to ban MR16, AR111 and other lamps and he felt that the provision for continuing IRC and Xenon filled versions, at least to 2016, answered that. Basically this provision does mean that some of these lamps will still be available, albeit at inflated prices, it does not, however, do anything to ensure that the current huge range of light outputs, beam angles and reflector options will still be available after September 2013.

Press statements from ELC and the Commission have tried to smooth out the situation however the lack of understanding is highlighted by the headline picture in the Commission’s article being a mains voltage rather than a low voltage lamp!

The bottom line remains that we do not know what products will be available after the September 2013 cut off. Requests for information that would enable me to actually work out the “Maximum Energy Efficiency Index” (MEEI) to both lamp manufacturers and the ELC remain unanswered at this date. Until we have this information for ALL currently available lamps no one can claim that lamps are not being banned by this legislation!

Monday, February 06, 2012
New Year New Ban!

MR16 and AR111 Low Voltage Tungsten Halogen Lamps to be banned in September 2013 with more efficient Infra-Red coated types not guaranteed beyond 2016.

This is the proposal in the Draft Legislation on reflector lamps that landed on my desk on January 24. Since then I have been trying to make sense of the implications. To be frank the actual proposal has come as quite a shock after being involved in both consultative and technical sessions on this over the past 3 years. During the most recent technical session in September we thought that the message had got across that there is no reasonable replacement for these LVTH lamps in the market now or in the foreseeable future that will meet the requirements for the professional applications . We also thought that the efficiency requirements would be set to deal with the older and less efficient classes of lamps such as the R40 , PAR38, PAR 30 and the like and permit the LVTH lamps to continue in use to replace the more critical applications for these technologies producing energy savings of 50% or more!

The delay in posting of this blog is that I have been trying to work out exactly what lamps are critically affected.
The problem here is that the energy performance criteria have been set around an arbitrary value of Lumens in a 90 degree cone from the centre of the lamp. This value is just not something that is published by lamp manufacturers. It has no sense or use in the consideration of reflector lamps and can only be properly measured using a goniphotometer, a seriously expensive and relatively rare piece of kit! Again this was pointed out to the technical meeting particularly by the individual countries representatives who will need to use these to undertake market surveillance in order to enforce these regulations.

So I am at this point unable to determine what lamps fall foul of this newly invented and complex metric, the “Maximum Energy Efficiency Index” (MEEI) all I can rely on are the statements in the guidance notes:

Stage 1 (2013)
Poor conventional low voltage halogen lamps (D class) are phased out even at low lumen outputs already in Stage 1.

Phases out quality conventional low voltage halogens starting with high lumen outputs (12V 50W MR16 lamp). Leaves only B-class enhanced lamps (infrared coated or xenon filled)

Stage 2 (2014)
Completes the phase-out started in Stage 1, now applying to low lumen output lamps.

The legislation will be reviewed in 2015.
Meanwhile the lamp industry has no guarantee that TH IRC lamps will be permitted beyond 2016 therefore have no guaranteed return on investment to buy the necessary machinery for the IR coating process. At any event the technical meeting was advised that both the machinery and coating materials have become a monopoly supply in Europe so prices are very likely to increase significantly in the short and medium term.

The legislation also limits efficiencies of LED solutions to points that just cannot be achieved by high quality colour rendering devices and really fails to address the problems in achieving colour consistency and clean narrow beam angles. The meeting in September was also told that in particular MR16 LED lamp replacements could not have their lives guaranteed as components in the integral power supplies are running beyond their design limits.

So we are now in a position where we cannot determine the MEEI of currently available lamps so we just do not know how to correctly advise our clients for whom we have specified LVTH solutions over the past 25 years. As and when the lamp manufacturers provide responses to this I will update this information.

Kevan Shaw 6 February 2012

Regarding the ELC manufacturer association comments

As an industry we are confident that in the future there will remain an adequate choice of high quality, low voltage lamps to satisfy different consumer budgets and needs.

Hardly surprising, for more about the ELC see http://ceolas.net/#ELC.

The mentioned EU press release predictably denies there is a problem, re “press rumors” that low voltage halogens are going to be banned.

As usual they give the impression that they are doing everyone a “favour” by enforcing lower energy usage, ignoring that people can choose it themselves if they want, since of course it also changes lamp characteristics as well as lamp cost.

I am clearly biased against both the EU (as currently run) and its regulations.
However, one can also base such criticism on references and official data, and in the case here, on other ways to achieve any energy saving objectives, even if such objectives themselves are questionable.


Ruth in England said...

Kevan Shaw works with Spectrum
alliance people on light sensitivity

He also has Save the Bulb website

Yes he is one of the good guys in all of this!

Lighthouse said...

True, Ruth

I link to the Save the Bulb website with blog on the Resource Links page, with more about Kevan.

Hopefully the Save the Bulb site will keep going, it's been inactive a while now - perhaps unsurprisingly, in the circumstances!