Saturday, November 05, 2011

Booting The Bulb Out: Will China Beat India?

Yesterday China did something that made me both happy and worried: declaring a war against incandescent light bulbs. 

According to an official statement, the country has chalked out a three-step plan to phase out incandescent light bulbs. The steps include ban on imports and sales of 100-watt-and-higher incandescent light bulbs after Oct 1, 2012 and a ban on 60 watt and higher bulbs on 2014. 

How wonderful! If the world’s most populous nation gives up using it, the days of incandescent light bulbs surely gets numbered. So, why am I worried? It’s because of this nagging thought: will China beat us at a game that we started to play much before it?
Incandescent bulbs only convert 5% of energy into light, criminally wasting the other 95%

Yes, it was in 2009 that government of India launched Bachat Lamp Yojana – a scheme (Bachat = saving) to phase out incandescent light bulbs from the country. 

I was working for Greenpeace then. I remember my colleague Vinita Gopal – the manager of Climate Change campaign in Greenpeace India, flashing her radiant smile and discussing enthusiastically the scheme. Greenpeace had actively campaigned for a ban on the bulb, and though that ban didn’t really didn’t come, the campaigners still had enough to celebrate when the government said it would actively promote compact fluorescents (CFL) production and phase out of the bulbs.

It’s been 2 years since then. During these 2 years, I have shifted my base thrice (Bangalore to Goa to Hyderabad) and, wherever I went, I found the apartment that I rented full of incandescent light bulbs. In every place, I had to buy multiple CFL to replace those bulbs, which also meant spending a lot of money. Sadly, the price, in all these 2 years, hasn’t come down a bit. I paid Rs.175 for a 23 watt CFL in 2009. That has remained quite static. Now, price is the main reason why people still use incandescent light bulbs(which are 20 times cheaper),  how am I then supposed to understand if my government is doing enough to promote the CFL?

To find the answer, I turned to the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) – which says that the penetration of CFL in household sector is still less than 20 percent. And the reason? Cost, of course!

Now, I remember that in 2009, I heard that the government would  implement the Bachat Lamp Yojana with the assistance of various groups and organizations throughout the country. This would include ‘encouraging’ (provide subsidy?) energy providers to sell the CFLs at cheaper rate. And there was also talk about a scheme where people could exchange an incandescent bulb for a CFL.

Where are those plans? It’s a question worth asking.

In past few months, I have learnt that the join implementation has started and that at least 2 companies - Horizon Light and Energy Pvt Ltd have joined BEE to phase out 400 million incandescent bulbs by 2012, replacing them with LED bulbs.

Feels really good on ear, I must say. But is it really going to happen by 2012? Or, are we just going to stay happy with the promises, while China zooms ahead and achieves what it planned?


shinaj said...

Desr Stella ,
congrts..i read your article absolutely very nice...keep it up
with warm regards

stella's musings said...

Thank you Shinajudheen. Regards to you too

Toby said...

Well, china will beat india on every aspect except one. Come 2025 and we will beat them in sheer people numbers.

stella's musings said...

lols! Sorry, I know that's not quite a laughing matter, but it still cracked me up.
Thanks a lot for reading though, and I do want to keep hoping that we won't totally left bruised.