SIL Europe 2010: Europe’s lighting industry
Jan Denneman, president of the European Lamp Companies Federation (ELC), was a Keynote Speaker at Strategies in Light Europe 2010, and described the efforts of the European lighting industry to promote quality LED lighting solutions.
“LED lighting is much more than energy saving only,” said Denneman. “It offers new opportunities in enhancing the lighting experience, and allows solutions that are closer to the needs of humans for natural light.” He called for “human-centric” lighting design in which there is a balance between visual, emotional and biological requirements and experiences.
Market surveillance is crucial, stated Denneman, claiming that currently there is a large share (35%) of non-compliant products on the European market. “This is causing customer dissatisfaction, creating a non-level playing field, and hampering the penetration speed of LED lighting,” said Denneman, adding that the issue will get worse as regulations become more demanding. In the absence of other options, the European lighting industry is “investigating the feasibility of industry-driven market surveillance,” he said.
In conclusion, Denneman said that the European lighting industry is seeking support from the EU and Member States for strong and rapid EU legislation to ensure that only good-quality LED products can reach EU consumers. As well as market surveillance, the industry also wants to see harmonized initiatives (including financial), and increased global cooperation and exchange of information, which will remove the need for national initiatives.
In a Q&A session, Denneman confirmed that the need for a European quality label is being discussed. “Yes there are plans and yes we are considering if this would help improve the quality of LED lighting in Europe. The UK’s EST has a label already, and there are activities by ZWEI in Germany. In principal, we think a quality label is a good thing, but it needs to be European wide. Also, quality labels don't help if there is not a good surveillance mechanism in place.” This touches on a concern in the EU, he said, compared with the USA where Energy Star is coupled with Caliper, and the US federal government can enforce laws. “But the EC cannot enforce laws, except in the field of competition law,” he said.
Denneman was asked whether market forces or government incentives were more important for growth. “Market forces,” he replied. “Incentives are important and useful, but a customer should basically want to buy an LED bulb. If that's not the case, the thing won't fly. Governments need to ensure a level playing field, and the EC has helped to remove inefficient products from market.” An “unbeatable” product like the incandescent lamp is very cheap and “people like the light from it, so it will stay in the market forever without the ban,” said Denneman. However, the next step is to make sure that the efficient products remaining in the market are applied efficiently.
Denneman agreed with a comment that Europe is falling behind countries such as Taiwan and China, where investment is much higher than the collective level from Europe. Osram's Martin Goetzeler said that the industry “could do more if we had more support from the government side in starting to implement LEDs in pilots and programs.” Such “green procurement initiatives” are one of the drivers in countries such as Taiwan and Korea, and in China you get a tax rebate if you buy an LED lamp, added Goetzeler.