August 31, 2009
There is a great deal of hot air being generated in what passes for the ‘debate’ on more efficient lighting. A couple of stats would be helpful. In a home that is heated by oil or gas (and has no air conditioning), the two largest consumers of energy are refrigeration and lighting (very roughly 25% and 15% respectively). Thus lighting is a very good target for saving electrical energy.
CFLs the subject of all the current hot air are, frankly, rather old tech. This weekend, PWR took delivery of a LED ‘tube’, which is a direct replacement for a 60cm fluorescent tube. It has a similar light output to the fluorescent tube, but consumes eight watts compared to the 18 watts of the supposedly efficient fluorescent. Furthermore, although relatively expensive (perhaps USD20), the LED has a lifetime of 50,000 hours. Put another way, I’ll probably be dead before this tube fails.
The European Commission is correct: LEDs are on the cusp of commercialisation. Indeed, the question is who benefits: the usual Euro lighting suspects or the country that supplied PWR’s sample LED tube (China)? There are a very wide range of lamp formats currently available, so format is not an issue.
Last year, PWR had a meeting with one of the ‘usual Euro lighting suspects’ and the impression gained was of a desire for orderly markets and ‘steady as she goes’ change. An alternative analysis could be one company’s commercial position being more important than timely action on climate change.
PWR sees a massive commercial opportunity for LEDs, due to both low energy and long life. The current high-level whining that the CFL issue generates diverts attention away from alternatives to CFLs and/or incandescent. The stock-piling of incandescents is, given the LED alternative, frankly comical.
PWR is advising a friend on the renovation of a house. The aim is very low-energy consumption from ‘traditional sources’. Solar thermal and PV on the south-facing roof will be undertaken. However, in the case of lighting, 12 volt LED-based lighting circuits throughout the house are being considered as a serious option. Energy requirements for this lighting could then be met through the PV panels and a couple of (cheap) car batteries. In the view of PWR, lighting costs could be reduced by 95%.
The current ‘debate’ on lighting is as coherent as somebody complaining about a ¾ empty beer glass whilst sitting next to a full beer barrel.