EU bans Edison's light bulbs

Aug. 28, 2009 at 2:24 PM

BRUSSELS, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- In Europe, the traditional light bulb perfected by American scientist Thomas Edison 130 years ago will soon be a remnant of the past.

The European Union is banning the production of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs starting Tuesday in a bid to introduce compact fluorescent models, widely known as energy-savings bulbs.

The move is in line with Brussels' plan to reduce the continent's energy demand and its carbon dioxide emissions footprint. Brussels hopes for the complete ban to slash around 15 million tons of C02 per year. It is also due to save 40 terawatt hours of energy per year -- roughly equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of Denmark.

The phase-out will come in several stages, with the additional lower-wattage models going in the years until 2016.

While energy-savings bulbs are more expensive, they use up to 80 percent less energy and live much longer than the traditional bulbs, resulting in bottom-line savings, the European Commission says.

The European Consumers' Association BEUC welcomed the move, saying that "consumers benefit financially from the measure, but most importantly, they will be able to contribute to improved energy efficiency."

But critics say that their light is too cold and not bright enough. Germans seem to be especially attached to the traditional models.

"We've seen a lot of hoarding," an electrical retailer from Wiesbaden told German public broadcaster ZDF. "Elderly people in particular are worried about the changes."

In the Hamburg stores of the hardware store chain Max Bahr, sales of 100-watt bulbs are up 337 percent, a spokeswoman told German daily Die Welt. In other European countries, however, sales of the old-style light bulbs are declining.

European light bulb producers such as Germany's Osram or Philips from the Netherlands say their new energy-savings bulbs are much better than what was on offer a few years ago. The latest models are shaped like the traditional bulbs, offer a greater choice of color and radiate warmer light.

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