Via Cruel Mistriss Eli came across yet another courtesy fart for George Will at the Washington Post. Joe Romm was not amused, but you know Joe. Not one of the Village People. He does have a number of excellent links about lighting technology developments, programs and regulation.
David Henderson, got hisself an op ed, more thoughts on that perhaps later, and proceeded to be as simple as can be. Henderson said that it was wrong of the EU to mandate a switch to compact fluorescent bulbs and the US to impose efficiency standards on light bulbs that will by, 2012, eliminate the traditional incandescent.
Eli agrees with Henderson that the US approach is better. Romm agrees too, pointing out that this has already lead to creation of more efficient incandescents (most likely by making filaments that can burn brighter) and leaves a lot more room for technological innovation. Henderson, leaving no simple thought unwritten fears a backlash from users moaning
. . many people also have a decided dislike of CFLs and will greatly resent the ban. While they may last longer than incandescent bulbs, the upfront cost is high; the light produced is not as bright as that of incandescent bulbs; they are slow to achieve full brightness; the bulbs don't fit in many old lamps; they can't be dimmed; and their lifespan is greatly shortened by using them for less than 15 minutes at a time. The manufacturers of compact fluorescent lights have made improvements on some of these issues, but their reputation is not yet vindicated.Because his analysis is superficial, he misses the obvious parallel with low flush toilets, in their time a threat to civilization and the American Way, but you know, by now no one really notices except the water and sanitation system operators who were spared the expense of dealing with a whole lot more of crap filled water and building a lot more plants, which was the whole point.
Beyond this, Henderson tries to do freakonomics
The environmental benefits of using only compact fluorescent bulbs are indirect -- and less than what could be realized by changing standards governing, for example, coal use. Consider: The benefit of "reducing inefficiency" depends on where the energy is coming from. Improving efficiency without eliminating a harmful source may just free energy that is then used elsewhere. If there is no net reduction in energy use, where is the benefit?As Eli said, he misses the obvious parallel with low flush toilets. In this case electrical generating facilities are continually being built and renewed. Decrease demand by increasing efficiency and the utilities will build fewer plants. CFLs were originally introduced and subsidized by the utilities precisely to avoid building new plants and it worked, a lesson Henderson has either never learned or tossed down the memory hole. Given capital costs and coming carbon emission regulation it is clearly in the utilities benefit to take their least efficient coal plants off line if lighting power demand decreases.
Observant link clickers may also have noticed that Henderson did not mention how much electricity is used for home lighting. 101 Billion kWh (8.8% of all electricity consumed in US homes, which is about 1/3 of all use). This, of course is only one place where good regulations can significantly increase efficiency, refrigerators are a great example, falling by a factor of four since 1970 under the spur of technological development and efficiency regulations. Oh yeah, replacements of CFCs were not even a hiccup in spite of the technotrolls. As Eli has been saying, the solution is going to include a whole lot of solutions not a single kendo bash.