FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lights out for incandescent lights?

The incandescent electric light was one of the paradigm-shifting inventions of the last 125 years, transforming the way people live, work and play. But the era of the incandescent light bulb may be drawing to a close.

Though more expensive up front, compact flourescent light bulbs are far more efficient -- and environmentally friendly -- than incandescent bulbs, using less electricity and lasting longer while providing the same amount of light. For that reason, local and state governments have been encouraging the adoption of compact flourescent bulbs, largely through subsidizing their cost. However, Australia is moving toward banning incandescent bulbs altogether by 2010. By enforcing minimum energy performance standards, selling incandescent bulbs would effectively be illegal. In the US, California is considering a similar measure that would outlaw sales of incandescent lights by 2012. The measure is significant because, as the nation's most populous state, California is a trendsetter in environmental and health legislation. Indeed, state governments in Connecticut and New Jersey (ironically, where Edison developed his light) are considering similar bans on incandescent lights.

The private sector is also jumping on the compact flourescent bandwagon. Retailers plan to increase shares of the bulbs substantially, and light bulb manufacturer Philips will stop manufacturing incandescent bulbs by 2016.

By switching to compact flourescent bulbs on a national level, Australia could cut its greenhouse gas emissions by four tons per year.

Source: International Herald Tribune