Phasing out incandescent lighting has been widely acknowledged as one of the most cost-effective, surest ways to achieve rapid energy savings in mature and emerging markets. In 2009, Europe adopted an ecodesign policy measure on non-directional lighting to phase out incandescent lamps over a six year period. This policy measure established a gradual market transition toward higher efficiency lamps, with the final stage of this regulation originally scheduled to take effect in September 2016. That final stage was designed to remove mains-voltage halogen lamps from the European market, promoting more efficient technologies. But the adopted measure has concerned some industry stakeholders who are calling for a delay or abolishment of the final stage. Some governments, citing consumer concerns, have called for a delay as well.
The European Commission’s DG Energy commissioned a review study on the feasibility of Stage 6 that was published in June 2013. The review study included a projection of LED replacement lamp price and performance based on the best information available at that time. But in the year following its publication, innovation in LED products far exceeded expectations, and performance levels that the review study anticipated in 2018 to 2020 can already be found in 2014. Recalling how television innovation far outpaced expectations and resulted in eco-design measures that failed to move the market, it became clear that in order for policy makers to make an informed decision for lighting products, some new evidence was needed. Thus, a new testing study was conducted, purchasing 170 clear LED replacement lamps from vendors across Europe and testing them in the lighting laboratory of the Swedish Energy Agency. The performance of these current products on the market will help inform policy makers, enabling them to decide whether to keep, delay or abolish the final stage of the lighting regulation. This case study for lighting demonstrates how evidence-based data is needed for products experiencing a rapid technological improvement curve, as technical and market forecasts can quickly become outdated. The paper highlights the need for resources and capacity within governments to act quickly in response to developments such as these, noting that significant energy saving opportunities may be lost if policy-making is based on outdated information.
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