“Light’s Labour’s Lost” – Policies for Energy-efficient Lighting

“Without rapid action the amount of energy used for lighting will be 80% higher in 2030 than today; however, if we simply make better use of today’s efficient lighting technologies and techniques, global lighting energy demand need be no greater at that time”, said Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency today in Paris during the launch of a new publication, Light’s Labour’s Lost: Policies for Energy–efficient Lighting.

“This important work shows that the potential for energy savings in lighting is simply enormous and can be achieved with technologies that not only are readily available in the market but economically-competitive during the life cycle of the product. Moreover, more efficient lighting also results in lower CO2 emissions”, Mr. Mandil added.

The comprehensive study is a component of the IEA’s response to the G8 Gleneagles Plan of Action (July 2005) which mandated the IEA to identify strategies and scenarios for a more sustainable energy future. It is the first detailed global analysis of the energy used by lighting and includes a thorough review of the technologies and policies which can reduce it. “In the current lighting environment there are enormous sources of waste. Light is routinely supplied to spaces where no one is present. Over-lighting occurs frequently and there are vast differences in the efficiency of competing lighting sources and in the way systems are designed to deliver light to where it is needed. While the problem is global, we have the means to address this waste now”, Mr. Mandil emphasised.

When William Shakespeare wrote Love’s Labour’s Lost, he would have used light from tallow candles at a cost (today) of GBP 12 000 for a measure of light. The same amount of light from electric lamps now costs GBP 2, while the supply of artificial light in the country of Shakepeare’s birth has increased 350 000 times! Generally, lighting ranks among the end-uses dominating global power demand. Worldwide, grid-based electric lighting consumes 19% of total global electricity production, slightly more electricity than used by the nations of OECD Europe for all purposes. Lighting requires as much electricity as is produced by all gas-fired generation and 15% more than produced by either hydro or nuclear power. The annual cost of this service including energy, lighting equipment and labour is USD 360 billion, which is roughly 1% of global GDP. Electricity accounts for some two-thirds of this. But the electricity used by lighting is also a major source of CO2 emissions, equivalent to 70% of those from the world’s cars.

Light’s Labour’s Lost maps out the means by which lighting demand can be curbed at lower cost than continuing with current practices. It shows that were end-users to install only efficient lamps, ballasts and controls that will save money over the life cycle of the lighting service, global lighting electricity demand would drop substantially and be almost unchanged from 2005 levels by 2030. Following these measures would save more than 16 000 Mt of CO2 emissions over the same time frame – equivalent to about 6 years of current global car emissions – and would avoid USD 2 600 billion in total expenditure on lighting through reduced energy and maintenance costs.

“Government and the private sector must grasp the opportunity that energy efficient lighting offers, if we are to attain the clean and competitive economy that we seek” said Mr. Mandil. “The policies which can bring about this transformation are known and proven but need to be implemented on an all together larger scale if the vast opportunities afforded by energy-efficient lighting are to be realised”, he concluded.

The book reviews the impact of lighting energy-efficiency policy actions to date and maps out the sets of measures which will needed if an energy-efficient lighting future is to be reached.