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

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

EU MEP Questions to European Commission

As seen in the last post, Kevan Shaw linked to Belgian researcher Rik Gheysens' website, specifically to Rik's comprehensive listing of questions raised by European Union MEPs about the incandescent ban and replacement lighting, and the Commission answers.

Rik's website as seen also covers overall regulatory developments in the EU, US and elsewhere with a focus on CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) issues, in particular mercury toxicity.

Some question examples - the answers are also linked on the page, but unsurprisingly are rather evasive and non-committal.

"Question mark CFL" ...source unknown

European MEP Questions: Extracts

"The European Union has set itself the target of cutting its overall energy consumption by 20 % by the year 2020.
One of the means of achieving this was to be the replacement of conventional light bulbs by energy-saving bulbs.
The conclusion of a study by American scientists publicised in the British magazine The Economist is, however, that in the longer term energy-saving bulbs will not cut energy consumption, but may on the contrary increase it. This thus confirms the so-called Jevons paradox: that innovations that produce energy savings result in the long run in higher energy use.

Is the Commission aware of the study referred to?
What view does it take of its findings and what conclusions does it draw for the EU's current energy efficiency strategy involving a ban on the use of conventional light bulbs?
Does the Commission admit the possibility that the ban on conventional light bulbs and their replacement by energy-saving bulbs will not lead to a reduction in energy consumption in the EU?
Are longitudinal or cross-sectional data already available to indicate whether the ban on conventional light bulbs is leading to a cut in energy in energy consumption in the EU?
If so, what conclusions can be drawn from these data?

[Ironically the rebound greater energy use was also recently cited by the American Examiner paper... in the town of Traer, Iowa some years ago 18,000 free fluorescent bulbs were handed out 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....]

Another Question:

"The regulations on ecodesign — Regulations (EC) No 244/2009 and No 245/2009 — provide for the progressive phasing out of incandescent light bulbs in favour of other products between 2009 and the end of 2012.
Could the Commission provide the studies on which it based these legislative proposals? Could it also say if they are available to the public and, if so, where they can be obtained?

A number of citizens have expressed justifiable concerns with regard to the wisdom of phasing out incandescent light bulbs, notably the following:

Has the Commission taken account of the entire amount of energy consumed in producing and recycling new-generation light bulb?
What is the environmental impact of these light bulbs, which contain highly toxic heavy metals, and how are faulty and spent bulbs to be salvaged?
What are the dangers of dumping bulbs without taking precautions? How can it be ensured that they are really being salvaged and reprocessed?
The white light given off by these new-generation light bulbs is supposedly less healthy than the yellow light of incandescent bulbs; has there been a study comparing the impact of these new bubs with that of previous generations?
New-generation bulbs reportedly give off far stronger electromagnetic emissions than incandescent bulbs. Is the Commission aware of this? If so could it explain why it has chosen to ignore these arguments?

Is there a document available to the public giving, in layman’s terms, their benefit-risk profile and references of studies carried out, with details of their authors, their professions and the organisations to which they belong?

When a decision of this magnitude is taken, is it not reasonable to disclose the facts and studies on which it was based and, more importantly, is it not also reasonable to provide a summary, updated each year, of the benefits sought and the results actually achieved?"

Another Question:

"The Commission said that ‘mercury-free alternatives without any known health impacts, such as improved incandescent bulbs’ were already available today.
What are these ‘improved incandescent bulbs’?
Why does the Commission not take the initiative of promoting these ‘improved incandescent bulbs’, thus putting an end to the risk of mercury contamination by energy-saving lightbulbs?

[Note: The EU Commission love to talk about the halogen type etc "improved" incandescent "alternatives", when in fact they and all other current incandescent replacements for domestic general use will be banned by 2016, which they know full well]

And so on...
many deal with CFL mercury/radiation/disposal issues - some other points, extracts:

"Traditional and halogen light bulbs will gradually be withdrawn from the market.
The withdrawal of these light bulbs from the market has met with criticism and indignation from many consumers...."

"Has the Commission given any consideration to the fact that, with greater use of renewable energy, the consumption of energy by standard light bulbs will not be a serious problem?....."

"Does the European Commission regard the ban as consistent with the subsidiarity principle? Why?..."

"Is the European Commission aware of findings concerning erroneous claims by manufacturers as to the actual savings achieved through the use of energy-saving light bulbs, the low level of illumination they offer, which diminishes even further with use, and their sensitivity to frequent switching on and off?"

"What view does the European Commission take of studies which claim that people living in rooms fitted with energy-saving light bulbs heat those rooms to a temperature two to three degrees higher than they would do otherwise, and is it aware of the volume of additional CO2 emissions which this phenomenon may generate?..."

"Various research projects by the Finnish University of Technology show that in practice all the energy used by incandescent lamps contributes to the heating of the home. Heat produced by incandescent lamps has to be replaced with heating and if the heating uses fossil fuels, the carbon footprint increases. The lower the wattage of the lamp used to replace an incandescent lamp, the greater the need for additional heating. Research shows that if heating uses oil, replacing lamps increases oil consumption.
Similarly, if electricity is used for heating, just as much electricity is used after lamps have been changed as before, because electrical radiators use more. In the case of combined heat and power, the decisive factor is how the electricity and heat are produced. In urban areas in Finland, they often come from the same power station. Changing lamps reduces electricity but increases heat [consumption]. This being so, it is the type of heating that determines the carbon footprint...."

"On 15 May the Austrian news agency APA indirectly quoted a statement by Commissioner Meglena Kuneva on the abolition of conventional light bulbs: ‘Nevertheless, Ms Kuneva presented her viewpoint on the emotional debate being conducted in this country on the replacement of conventional light bulbs by energy-saving light bulbs. To sum up, the politician asked for patience to be shown, as the discussion process was far from over.’
What does Commissioner Kuneva mean by this statement against the background of the timescale for the ‘phasing out’ of conventional light bulbs from trade (cf. Commission Regulation (EC) No 244/2009)?...."

"Just as the ban on 60 watt light bulbs came into force on 1 September 2011, lighting manufacturer Osram also increased its prices for energy-saving light bulbs.
The reason given for the huge price increase was a price rise in rare earth metals, which are required as a raw material...."

A long question comprehensively dealing with the savings issue:

"Since the world's consumption of energy for all lighting needs totals less than two per cent of all energy consumption, why is the Commission attaching so much importance to the introduction of CFL bulbs?
Why is the EU demanding that Britain throw away a lighting technology which is tried-and-tested, safe and silent, and delivers what is needed: good light at full strength at the flick of a switch?
Why are Britons being told (not asked) to replace it with an alternative which is clumsier, more expensive, does not work as well, makes some people ill and could do more environmental harm than good?

Does the Commission not know that one of the side benefits of the present range of bulbs is the heat they generate (as much as 95 %), which reduces the need for other forms of heating?
That heat will be lost by switching to CFL bulbs. It will have to be made up by the increased use of central heating, for example, or electric fires. That in turn will place a higher demand for energy on power stations.

Is the Commission aware that even the British Government admits that the total hoped-for saving would be equivalent to the output of a single small coal-fired power station?

Indeed, does the Commission understand that, assuming it matters, the carbon footprint of CFL bulbs is higher because they contain complex chemicals and electronics which ordinary bulbs do not?
They generate more carbon in the manufacturing process and disposal at the end of their working life is more environmentally and industrially expensive... "

"Can the Commission say precisely how these (savings) figures are calculated?
What percentage of homes in the EU could actually make savings of EUR 1 000 or more by introducing energy efficiency measures?
What is the figure for Germany? What are the figures for the other Member States?
By contrast, how many households are able to make annual savings of less than EUR 500?
How many households could only make savings of less than EUR 200?"

LEDs get a look in, in several questions regarding their rare earth mineral usage, as with CFLs contravening supposed EU environmental policies, also:

"90% of LEDs work according to a process which combines a blue diode with yellow phosphorus to obtain white light. However, this blue light is dangerous for the retina: the various pigments present in its cells can lead to a reaction, causing lesions produced by oxidative stress.

According to the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, these new lights could be particularly damaging for children, light-sensitive people — including those suffering from certain eye and skin diseases — and exposed professionals (lighting engineers, dentists, etc.).

What measures does the Commission intend to take in order to protect European consumers more effectively from this risk?

Furthermore, it would seem essential to inform them better on this issue. What initiatives does the Commission intend to take in this field?"

source  Mackinac


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