Category: Legislation + Regulation

GE Suspends Work on the HEI Lamp

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 regulates the efficiency of general-service 40-100W incandescent and halogen screw-in lamps starting in 2012. With only a few exceptions among energy-saving screw-in…

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 regulates the efficiency of general-service 40-100W incandescent and halogen screw-in lamps starting in 2012. With only a few exceptions among energy-saving screw-in halogen lamps, today’s incandescent lamps do not comply and will therefore be eliminated.

Light Bulb Crash

The good news for incandescent fans (and those who simply want choice in residential sockets, or use dimmers) is that the law does not present an outright ban on incandescent lamps but instead approximately doubles the efficacy of today’s lamps. After the passage of the Act, GE announced that it intended to launch a compliant high-efficiency incandescent (HEI) lamp by 2010.

The bad news is that GE has suspended work on the lamp. The company issued a brief statement:

“GE Consumer & Industrial and GE Global Research have suspended the development of the [HEI lamp] to place a greater focus and investment on what we believe will be the ultimate in energy-efficient lighting—light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).”

While there may still be some options for consumers interested in retaining incandescent lighting, generally demand is expected to shift to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which have been rapidly gaining share of market against incandescents in recent years.

Right behind the CFL, however, is LED and OLED lighting:

“Research and development of these technologies is moving at an impressive pace and will be ready for general lighting in the near future,” said GE. “LEDs and OLEDs used in general lighting are now poised to surpass the projected efficiency levels of HEI along with other energy-efficient technologies like fluorescent, and have the additional benefits of long life and durability.”

Philips Lighting similarly recently indicated that it would not be investing in R&D for CFLs but instead focusing on LED lighting. Kaj den Daas, chairman and CEO of Philips Lighting, said it’s not spending any money on CFL R&D but is instead focusing most of its R&D budget–5.2% of the company’s global lighting revenue–on research into LED light sources.

Omnidirectional LED lamps bombed in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) product testing over the past 2+ years and are therefore not yet considered ready for prime time as a replacement against workhorses such as 60W incandescent A-lamps. To speed things along, DOE created a $10 million L Prize offered to whomever can produce a high-performing LED replacement lamp for 60W incandescents, and is expected to release final ENERGY STAR criteria for LED replacement lamps in summer 2009.

DOE is optimistic, expecting a replacement lamp to be developed in the next 1-3 years.

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