China to Phase Out Inefficient Bulbs
March 9, 2012 - 2:35pm

China recently joined the growing list of countries that are moving toward more efficient lighting technology. According to the Associated Press, China announced in early November that it will phase out incandescent light bulbs over the next five years.

The phase-out will begin Oct. 1, 2012, when China will ban 100W and higher incandescent bulbs from being imported or sold. Next up will be the 60W bulb in 2014, followed by the 15W bulb in 2016.

Xie Ji, Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Dept. with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), was quoted by China’s Xinhua News Agency as saying that China is the world’s largest producer of both energy-saving and incandescent bulbs, having produced 3.85 billion incandescent light bulbs in 2010. He also said that lighting accounts for 12 percent of China’s electricity use.

Terry McGowan, Director of Engineering and Technology for the American Lighting Assn., says this phase-out will affect China’s manufacturing in the same way it has affected other countries that have adopted phase-outs.

“China has substantial incandescent bulb-making capacity, so China will be shutting down their incandescent production lines just like in the United States and Europe over the next few years and transitioning to CFL and LED production,” McGowan says. “It isn't clear if high-efficiency halogen incandescent bulbs will be allowed in China. In any case, it will be interesting to see if people in China complain about the loss of their incandescent bulbs as others have done in the United States, Europe, Australia, Canada and other countries.”

Cathy Choi, President of light bulb manufacturer Bulbrite, says that while her company does not sell in China, she sees the Chinese phase-out part of a larger trend.

“I think this news only supports what we are doing stateside,” Choi says. “Europe and other countries have already gone to more energy efficient standards for lighting, so I think it’s appropriate that from a global perspective, the different nations are aligning to head in the same direction.”

Dr. Jürgen Waldorf, Director of the Lighting Product Division for ZVEI, the Central Assn. of the German Electrical and Electronic Engineering Industry, says the phase-out only reinforces incandescent bulbs’ diminishing role at lighting trade shows like Germany’s Light+Building show, which ZVEI helps put on.

“Already at the last Light+Building, the incandescent lamp itself did not play any important role,” Waldorf says. “Since the phase-out in Europe started already in 2009, most luminaire manufacturers launched their products with energy efficient alternatives.”

Waldorf went on to say that with more phase-outs taking effect, he expects to see an increase in luminaires with LEDs integrated into the design.

The Chinese announcement comes as several other countries are either in the midst of or about to start their own phase-outs. The European Union took frosted bulbs off the market in 2009, and has since phased out inefficient 100W, 75W and 60W bulbs, with new restrictions on 40W and 25W bulbs taking effect in September 2012, according to the European Commission’s website. Australia also introduced new Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) in 2009 targeting any bulbs with an efficiency of less than 15 lumens per watt, according to the country’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency website.

British Columbia also established new energy efficiency standards for 100W and 75W bulbs earlier this year, according to the province’s Energy and Mines website. Similar standards were scheduled to take effect throughout Canada in 2012, but were postponed earlier this month until 2014, according to the Natural Resources Canada website.

The United States will also start its own phase-out in a few weeks. As of Jan. 1, 2012, 100W incandescent bulbs that do not meet the new lumen output requirements can no longer be manufactured, followed by the 75W in 2013 and the 60W and 40W in 2014. The state of California is on an accelerated schedule and started phasing out 100W bulbs earlier this year.

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