Commission adopts proposal for energy efficient lighting directive

The European Commission adopted a proposal for a European Parliament and Council of Ministers Directive on energy efficiency requirements for ballasts for fluorescent lighting, intended to contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions in a cost-effective manner with high economic benefits for lighting users, and a low impact on manufacturers.

The Commission estimates that the efficiency requirements envisaged under this Directive could result to electricity savings of the order of 12 billion KWh per year and CO2 emissions reductions of the order of 6 million tonnes per year by 2020.

The proposal for the “ballasts” Directive is part of the Commission’s strategy and a further contribution to increase energy efficiency of end-use equipment, to reduce CO2 emissions and to save money to office and public buildings’ occupiers.

Energy consumption of fluorescent lighting amounts to 105 TWh (billion KWh) per year which corresponds to the total electricity consumption of Belgium and Portugal. Fluorescent lighting is mainly used in the tertiary sector buildings (offices, schools, hospitals, etc.) and in industry premises. Large electricity savings and the associated CO2 emissions reductions, can be achieved with the use of more energy efficient ballasts, indispensable components to fluorescent lighting fixtures, says the Commission. To achieve these savings, it is essential to promote high efficiency ballasts and to phase out very low efficiency units. Energy efficiency experts agree that the most effective policy instrument to achieve the potential savings is to introduce minimum efficiency requirements for ballasts.

The Commission discussed in detail the possibility of concluding a negotiated agreement with CELMA, the European luminaire manufacturer association, thus avoiding the need to propose legislation. However, CELMA declared that a negotiated agreement is not a viable option, as there is a substantial level of ballasts imported in the European Union. Manufacturers agreed that the best option for them is to have a Directive introducing “harmonised” minimum efficiency requirements.

To minimise the impact on manufactures, a phased approach is proposed, associated with long transition periods before the entry into force of each level of minimum efficiency requirements. The first level of the present proposal is envisaged to phase out “high-loss” ballasts and to come into force one year after the adoption of the Directive. A one-year transition period is judged consistent with the small investments and adaptations needed to meet the first step.

After three years a second efficiency step is envisaged to come into force, by which the “conventional” ballasts which represent the bulk of the present market will be phased out.

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