Friday evening, something rare happened in conformist Sweden (where no article may be published without praising the politically correct lamps):
On prime-time national news, a representative of the Swedish Energy Agency (one of the strongest anti-lightbulb forces in Sweden*) was caught blatantly lying about the incandescent lightbulb. Can be viewed here for another 5 days (at 9:55 in the clip): Rapport 31 Aug, 19:30 My description, transcription and translation to English, reporter in green, his narrative in citation marks:
News anchor: From tomorrow the lightbulbs will be gone. The Energy Agency thinks this is an important measure for the climate and claims this will save energy comparable to the heating of 80 000 houses. But it turns out that the Agency uses exaggerated and outright erroneous numbers.
Cue Energy Agency representative Peter Bennich, turning on a an incandescent bulb:
- Well, this is a very nice light source, but unfortunately it uses a lot of electricity. So therefore it will be phased out.
Then an elderly man in a lamp shop is interviewed while buying incandescent lamps:
- You’re stockpiling?
- Yes, absolutely! These modern lamps are so horrible, strange colours and…
Clip new picture of lawn mowing.
“Environmental bombs like old lawn mowers and two-stroke engines are allowed but lightbulbs are banned.”
Back to Peter Bennich again (filmed at the Agency in front of a huge flat screen TV):
- They waste so much. It’s like buying 10 liters of milk and throwing away 9 liters every day.
“Only 1/10 of the electricity is of any use in a light bulb, the rest is pure waste. This is what the Energy Agency says.” (Document of the statement is shown.) “And this way we will save 2 TWh, 10% of the electricity in Sweden. This is the equivalent of 80 000 [electricity-heated] private homes they claim.”
- It saves at least 80% compared with the other lamp, says Peter Bennich again (likely referring to the CFL or LED).
“But something has been forgotten….”
Back to the man in the lamp shop:
- I have electric heating at home. The radiators turn on less frequently when I have the lamps lit.
“Lasse is quite right. If a lot of the of the electricity used for lamps is turned into heat, it logically follows that one can just turn down radiators a little instead. Most Swedish houses need heading, during most of the year anyway.”
Back to the Energy Agency and Peter Bennich again to check:
- Is it true that 90 % is pure waste?
- Yes, that is my opinion.
“In the Energy Agency propaganda incandescent bulbs are presented as only wasteful.” (A leaflet is shown.) “But the Agency has made their own calculations that show that throughout a whole year, not all but about 50% of the heat from the lightbulb is useful.”
Presented with this undeniable fact, Peter Bennich tries to spin it the other way:
- Well, it turns out then that max 50% of the heat from incandescent lamps are of any use…
“Oops, earlier it was 10% that was useful. The truth was 50%! Which means that then the 2 TWh savings are not true, and not the other numbers in the information either. For those who want to save energy at home, there are much worse climate villains than the little lightbulb.”
Then the reporter presents Bennich with an infrared heater and a lightbulb, and turns up the heat in his questions:
- If I use this [lightbulb] as a reading lamp for half an hour every day for a whole year except June, or use this [infrared heater] for one evening, which uses most electricity?
Without even a second’s hesitation Bennich replies:
- The incandescent bulb!
- Yes, Bennich insists.
“Wrong again. My reading lamp uses 2.7 KWh per year in my example. The patio heater uses 3.6 KWh after only 3 hours!”
“But”, the reporter seems compelled to add (probably to not get in trouble with his superiors), “if you look at all of Sweden, the ban can still save energy.”
He then lets Bennich get the last word (despite just having proven what that word is worth):
- Lighting uses a very large part of electricity use in Sweden.
- It sounds as if we are not very good at turning the lights off when not in use?
- Yes! We Swedes are extra poor at turning lights off.
*** The End ***
Fascinating, isn’t it?
Note how the Energy Agency representative is extremely careful to use the word ‘electricity’ rather than ‘energy’. That is a very deliberate and well-coordinated strategy in order to make lighting part sound more than it is, as electricity itself is only a smaller part of total energy consumption.
It’s not a lie but it’s not telling the whole truth either. The largest part of most households’ total energy consumption is space heating (or cooling in warmer areas) followed by water heating. Lighting is only a small fraction of the remaining household electricity. EU average according to official statistics, is less than 3% of total household energy use – of which an estimated 46% was already fluorescent or halogen at the time of the ban (!) according to the preparatory study that was used as foundation for the ban (see my post EU Energy Statistics for details and references).
What is also deceptively concealed is the fact that the largest lighting part of national electricity use is in the commercial, industrial, public building and road illumination sectors, which use the most number of lamps, the highest wattages, and keep them turned on for most of the day or night. And most lamps in these sectors is already fluorescent or gas discharge! Some of them can still be optimised with newer and more efficient lamps of the same or similar lamp groups, better control systems etc, and by being turned off when not in use. That’s where the real savings on lighting can and are being made!
Whereas the private sector lighting use is such a microscopic slice of the total energy pie that it can easily be saved without banning any lamps.
I am sadly becoming more and more convinced that this whole lamp issue is just a diversion to keep us all believing that both we and politicians have really made a difference now by switching a few lamps. The planet is saved and we can all go back to sleep and keep consuming as usual. While the multi-billion-dollar CFL and LED industry is laughing all the way to the bank.
When the truth is that no one wants to rock the boat and start restricting the things that really pollute and deplete resources. Such as petrol-fueled cars & airplanes and the gazillions of electrical gadgets, clothes, trinkets and junk food we’re continuously being prodded to buy more and more of. No restrictions there.
* The Swedish Energy Agency (STEM) has been leading the Swedish part of the global Market Transformation Programme (away from incandescent lamps) all through the 1990s until now. As I reported in The Global Anti-Lightbulb Campaign post, Kalle Hashmi, Executive Officer of Technology & Market Unit at the Swedish Energy Agency, in his Market Transformation Programme paper from 2006 admitted that:
STEM does not necessarily enjoy a commanding or trusted position vis-à-vis the consumers due to previous campaigns launched by STEM during the 90s. These campaigns may be summed as:
STEM engaged in ill conceived, inconsistent and ad-hoc promotions.
STEM did not take into account the consumer perspective but rather concentrated exclusively on energy efficiency and technical issues.
STEM relied indiscriminately on the information provided by the vendors.
STEM was very passive about dealing with CFL technology failures that affected main benefit claims.
STEM did not study, did not know or admit technology limitations.
STEM did not demand or work to establish minimum performance requirements.
STEM never questioned why long life claims were not backed by a guarantee.
And it seems that they’re still at it…