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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What We Will Never See

When politicians set standards that ban products, they think of existing products.

1. Normally bans are made on products deemed dangerous to use.

Few would object to the ban on paint containing lead - on the basis that danger is danger, no matter what usage advantages such a product might have. Yet even in such cases, it rules out the development of products that bind the dangerous substances in various ways, rendering them more safe - and it bans them regardless of future chemical advances that might have allowed it, even though not possible at the time of the ban. Therefore, while the bans obviously have to be implemented, they should always be open to review, and research grants into the uses of lead, asbestos, mercury and other substances not be blocked on the basis of unlikely product development.
Such research would take 2 factors into account: The likely possibility of mitigating the danger, chemically or by other means, and the likely advantage of any researched and developed product outcome, versus existing products on the market.

In terms of lighting one might then think of fluorescent lighting and mercury content.
Most who are against the ban on incandescents are unhappy with fluorescent replacements, and many have called for an alternative ban on such products instead.
Ironically, it now looks as if fluorescents will be banned or at least phased out and discouraged from sale, not instead of incandescent bans, but as well.

Two good blog posts on the issue on Kevan Shaw's blog:
International Mercury Convention Picks Wrong Lighting Target (Jan 2013)
In Praise of Fluorescent Lighting (July 2012)

LED is the new Holy Grail:
Certainly useful, but rather pointlessly developed and given prizes for expensively cloning incandescents as white LEDs, rather than in a main development which complements incandescents (or fluorescents), as RGB LEDs with color temperature flexibility, or as sheet lighting (OLEDs).
The point is that all lighting has specific advantages, for different specific uses.

2. The issue becomes all the greater, when products are banned for reasons other than usage danger.

This blog deals with lighting - but it clearly applies to all bans based on resource use, such as energy and water.

Specifically, energy usage standards are set that effectively ban incandescent lighting.
The standard political motivation is "great to get rid of the old bulbs": politicians, like any other people, are of course perfectly free to like or dislike products.

But standards block the development of any lighting not meeting those standards.
For example, bio-luminescence is a new exciting branch of lighting development, lighting by chemical interaction, with advantageous scenarios. To whatever extent the dimness might be assisted by electrical charge via the grid, this is banned by regulation, if usage exceeds certain parameters.
Relevant research grants, in today's political climate, are already often based on product energy usage - and why not - but grants become all the less likely when an alternatively useful product is unlikely to meet legislative electrical usage standards.

What a strange world:
Lighting products not judged for their lighting.
As with lighting products, so with other products.

Polticians are reactive creatures.
Few - if any - have any form of vision of society development.

What politician has the foresight to understand that standards ban not just what exists - but also what might have come to exist, and never will, regardless of usage advantages.

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