Bulb targeted by demand for light without heat
THE incandescent light bulb, in use for 125 years, should be phased out within a decade to help improve energy efficiency and combat global warming, according to Siemens AG, the second largest maker of lighting products.
New US standards will render incandescent bulbs obsolete, says Charlie Jerabek, president of the Osram Sylvania unit of Siemens. He believes technologies such as LEDs or compact fluorescents hold more promise than making incandescents more efficient, as rival General Electric has proposed.
‘‘ Quite candidly, we are not aware of how they would do that,’’ Jerabek said of General Electric’s plan to continue making the traditional bulbs in the face of tougher energy efficiency requirements. ‘‘ We are not so keen on trying to promote the longer life of that light bulb,’’ Jerabek said. Osram Sylvania relies on incandescents for 10 per cent of its sales. Australia wants them banned by 2010.
Growing certainty that the burning of fossil fuels is warming the Earth’s atmosphere has spawned proposals from governments and industry to conserve energy. Last week the US House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a measure backed by Royal Philips Electronics NV, Munich-based Siemens and energy efficiency advocates to raise lighting efficiency by about 30 per cent by 2014 and by 75 per cent by 2020. The rules could lead to annual US savings of 65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and a $6 billion cut in consumer electric bills, says Jeff Harris, vice president of programs at the US’s Alliance to Save Energy.
General Electric, the third-largest lighting producer worldwide and the top producer in the US, did not sign on to the plan. GE spokeswoman Kim Freeman rejected the idea that the incandescent bulb is nearly obsolete. She said GE would make an incandescent bulb twice as efficient as today’s by 2010, and four times more efficient by 2012 — but acknowledged that if incandescent bulbs could not meet new standards then they would fall by the wayside.
GE invented fluorescent and light-emitting diode (LED) technology, and claims it is the largest manufacturer of compact fluorescent lamps in the US, but also has the largest market share of incandescent lamps. Compact fluorescent lights today are about eight times dearer than incandescent bulbs, last about eight times longer, and use three to five times less energy. Incandescents are less efficient because they convert some 90 per cent of energy used into heat. not light. Bloomberg