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Australia's Bright Idea: Phase Out Incandescent Bulbs

Photonics.com
Feb 2007
SYDNEY, Australia, Feb. 20, 2007 -- In an effort to reduce greenhouse gases, the Australian government announced today it will phase out energy-inefficient incandescent light bulbs in favor of compact fluorescents.

Australia is aiming to gradually phase out all old-style light bulbs and fully enforce new lighting standards legislation by 2009 or 2010. The step should reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tons by 2012 and cut household lighting costs by up to 66 percent, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“The most effective and immediate way we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions is by using energy more efficiently,” Turnbull said. “Electric lighting is a vital part of our lives; globally it generates emissions equal to 70 percent of those from all the world’s passenger vehicles. But it is still very inefficient. We have been using incandescent light bulbs for 125 years and up to 90 percent of the energy each light bulb uses is wasted, mainly as heat.”

The heat loss of normal light bulbs represents millions of tons of CO2 emitted globally into the atmosphere, he said. Compact fluorescents use around 20 percent of the electricity of traditional bulbs to produce the same amount of light and also last between four and 10 times longer.

"While they may be more expensive to buy up front, they can pay for themselves in lower power bills within a year," Turnbull said.

He said the reduction in emissions will increase as the phase out progresses and the annual average reduction between 2008-12 is estimated at around 800,000 tons. However, by 2015 the annual cut in emissions will have soared to an estimated 4 million tons a year. In Australia, lighting currently represents around 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from households and approximately 25 percent of emissions from the commercial sector.

The government said it will also work with the world’s largest manufacturers of light bulbs, including China, to broaden the benefits beyond Australia.

“The International Energy Agency has estimated that if all countries made the global switch to compact fluorescent lights, that by 2030 annually it would save the energy equivalent to more than five years of Australia’s current electricity consumption,” Turnbull said. “The climate change challenge is a global one. I encourage other countries to follow Australia’s lead and make the switch to more energy efficient products like compact fluorescent light bulbs."

For more information, visit: www.environment.gov.au


GLOSSARY
light
Electromagnetic radiation detectable by the eye, ranging in wavelength from about 400 to 750 nm. In photonic applications light can be considered to cover the nonvisible portion of the spectrum which includes the ultraviolet and the infrared.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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