Incandescent light bulbs set for switch off

Updated: 2011-01-13 13:51

By Wang Ying (China Daily)

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SHANGHAI - The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is working out a roadmap to phase out incandescent light bulbs to save energy, a transition to be completed by 2018, sources say.

Many countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, have imposed tighter restrictions on energy use and carbon emissions, and some are barring incandescent bulbs, in which only 30 percent of the energy produces light and up to 70 percent is wasted as heat.

"It's a global trend to make energy more efficient. Given China's huge production volume of incandescent lightbulbs, we need time to reduce and ultimately stop the production and use of the lights," Wang Jinsui, president of the China Illuminating Engineering Society, told China Daily.

The timetable is still under discussion, but Wang said that by 2018, incandescent bulbs will no longer be used and the production of 100- and higher-wattage bulbs will stop in 2015.

Although energy-efficient bulbs are in accord with the national guidelines, low-income families cannot afford them as they cost almost 10 times as much as incandescent lightbulbs.

"The plan should consider government subsidies, or it will be difficult for Chinese families, especially in the less-developed western region," Wang said.

The World Environment Foundation provided $14 million to support China's efforts to popularize the new lighting in July 2009.

Anhui Shiling Lighting Co Ltd is one beneficiary of that funding, said Sang Yongshu, president of the company.

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The company produced more than 600 million incandescent lightbulbs in 2005.

"In response to the call for more energy-efficient products, Shiling Lighting started its first production line of low-energy lighting in 2004, and currently, more than half of our products are energy-efficient," Sang said.

"It may be possible to stop using high-wattage lighting at home, but it's unrealistic to require that only energy-efficient bulbs are used everywhere," said Liu Shengping, secretary general of the China Association of Lighting Industry.

Up to 50 percent of the incandescent lightbulbs now made in China are exported to developing economies.

"As long as the demand exists, Chinese manufacturers can hardly pull the plug on the production line," Liu said.

China started directing lightbulb manufacturers to upgrade production lines in 2007, Liu said, but there are still dozens of companies that rely heavily on producing incandescent bulbs. Those companies are located mainly in Foshan, Guangdong province, and Anhui, Hebei, and Sichuan provinces.

Developed economies in the European Union agreed to replace energy-wasting lightbulbs with low-energy lighting as early as 2007, and the UK announced it would phase out all traditional lightbulbs by this year.

Small producers have already felt the chill of the market. Hu Jiefang, director of a lightbulb manufacturer in Wuyi, Zhejiang province, told China Daily that his company will stop producing incandescent bulbs after Spring Festival in February and start a trial program to enter the LED lamp market.



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