Africa Set to Benefit from UN Initiative to Cut Electricity Costs by $18bn

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The United Nations has this week announced a groundbreaking model energy efficiency regulation for everyday light bulbs that can be easily adopted by interested developing and emerging economies.

The potential savings from transitioning from old-fashioned incandescent bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs in nations that do not already have energy efficiency standards could be massive, the minds behind the project have said.

The initiative is likely to save up to $18 billion in electricity costs and If implemented, more than 160 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions can avoided every year.

The model regulation announced at the international Energy Efficiency Global Forum in Copenhagen results from an innovative collaboration between the world’s largest lighting company, Philips Lighting, now known as Signify, and the Natural Resources Defense Council under the auspices of United Nations (UN) Environment.

Lighting represents 15% of all worldwide electricity use and there are billions of inefficient incandescent and halogen light bulbs installed and still being sold around the world.

While regulations that phase out future sales of these inefficient bulbs are due to go into effect throughout the European Union later this year and in the United States in 2020, similar policies do not exist in parts of Africa and most developing and emerging economies.

“Once all the lighting sockets in these countries contain LED light bulbs, the amount of electricity saved would be equivalent to Mexico’s annual electricity consumption,” said Noah Horowitz, Senior Scientist and Director at the Center for Energy Efficiency Standards, Energy & Transportation program.

The model regulation provides everything an interested country needs to move forward to eliminate the most energy-wasting bulbs: scope, test methods, minimum efficiency levels for each type of bulb, and some basic performance requirements to ensure that consumers have a good experience with the LED bulbs they will be buying. The model regulation is ready to be “cut and pasted” into law by any country ready to take the next step and adopt them.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) worked with the UN Environment and Philips Lighting, to create the model regulation.

According to Horowitz, the model regulation will be distributed to interested countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Countries implementing the regulation will also reduce trade barriers and provide opportunities for sharing resources, including testing facilities, joint procurement, and market monitoring.

The potential enormous electricity bill and carbon savings are due to the fact that LEDs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs.

“In other words, one 10-watt LED light bulb will produce the same amount of light as the old 60-watt bulb it replaces. In addition, the consumer can easily save $50 to $100 on their energy bills over the lifetime for each LED bulb installed,” Horowitz explained.

Through the United for Efficiency (U4E) project, the UN will reach out to developing and emerging economies like South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey, among others, and encourage them to adopt the model regulation and to phase out sales of inefficient light bulbs as soon as possible.

“By not being stuck with the old, inefficient technologies, developing countries can avoid being the dumping ground for energy-wasting bulbs banned in other nations. Countries that adopt the model regulation will also avoid the burdens of high energy bills, poor air quality, and remove some of the stress from their commonly overloaded electricity grids,” said Horowitz.

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