The European Commission today agreed with conventional lighting industry arguments and voted to postpone a ban on halogen lamps until September 2018.
It did not, however, extend the ban until 2020, which lighting industry body LightingEurope had lobbied for. The decision is sure to rankle newer, LED specialist companies like Neonlite and its Megaman brand,who had argued against any extension.
The EC had set the 2016 date back in 2009, giving the industry seven years to prepare for it. Halogens are a form of incandescent lamp – the EC has already banned others – and are highly inefficient compared to newer LED and CFL energy-saving lamps.
But the industry lobbied hard in recent months to delay the ban, saying that seven years was not going to be long enough. It argued among other things that Europe would face a lamp shortage because there would not be enough quality LED lamps to meet general demand.
It also said the industry needed more time to develop LEDs with features to which consumers are accustomed, such as standard dimming, multi-directional light beams, and good colour rendering, at an affordable price.
‘Postponing the phase-out will bring more efficient products to the market, and give consumers the possibility to choose the best performing lamp for their needs,’ the EC said in a press release. It did not immediately clarify its logic – more efficient products like LED lamps are already coming into the market, and it’s unclear how the 2018 extension will change that.
‘Switching from an average halogen lamp to an energy-efficient LED will already save approximately €115 ($124) over the LED’s lifetime of up to 20 years, and pay back its cost within a year,’ the release stated. ‘This savings will increase further by 2018 with lower LED prices and a better LED performance.’
Applying the same logic, the EC claimed that sticking with a 2016 ban would have cost European consumers €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in energy savings which they will now get by waiting until 2018.
But it also pointed out that ‘halogen lamps are very inefficient (energy efficiency class “D”).’
It further noted that, ‘novel technologies, such as LEDs offer a high savings potential: the consumption of a halogen lamp is often more than five times higher than the one of an energy-efficient LED. As a result, member states agreed in 2009 that such inefficient “D”-class halogen lamps should be phased-out from 1 September 2016.’
Some industry observers suggest that the EC delayed the ban to allow traditional lighting companies like Philips and Osram more time to adjust and to deal with difficult job losses associated with abandoning halogen.
‘Everyone agrees that a maximum of around 6,800 job losses in halogen lamp production are inevitable and will happen irrespective of any policy intervention due to the arrival of LEDs,’ the EC said. ‘The phase-out of halogen lamps and faster market uptake of LEDs can help overcome some of these negative impacts by focusing on high value creation and employment opportunities in the EU. Deferring the phase-out to 1 September 2018 gives manufacturers the time to create replacement jobs in these areas, while supporting innovative companies in the EU providing novel lighting solutions based on LEDs.’
The ban does not apply to all halogens. It mainly covers pear-shaped bulbs that look like conventional incandescent lamps but contain a halogen component. It does not apply to spotlights or to many desk lamps.
LightingEurope Secretary General Diederik de Stoppelaar called the 2018 date an ‘acceptable compromise.’ He noted:
- ‘The industry strongly supports — and has for years — the changeover to more energy-efficient lighting solutions. While 2020 was the ideal date for a phase-out of the popular domestic halogens, 2018 is an acceptable compromise. What consumers must realise, is that alternative developing technologies take time to be fully realised — and then to subsequently be widely available on the market.’