The Light Bulb Goes On!

Image from Lawrence Livermore National Lab
Image from Lawrence Livermore National Lab

From the New York Times:

When Congress passed a new energy law two years ago, obituaries were written for the incandescent light bulb. The law set tough efficiency standards, due to take effect in 2012, that no traditional incandescent bulb on the market could meet, and a century-old technology that helped create the modern world seemed to be doomed.

But as it turns out, the obituaries were premature.

Researchers across the country have been racing to breathe new life into Thomas Edison’s light bulb, a pursuit that accelerated with the new legislation. Amid that footrace, one company is already marketing limited quantities of incandescent bulbs that meet the 2012 standard, and researchers are promising a wave of innovative products in the next few years.

Indeed, the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation.

“Technology forcing” of this kind is a key part of environmental law, and is particularly important in the energy area.

Reader Comments

One Reply to “The Light Bulb Goes On!”

  1. Yes, but you are making the mistaken assumption, like most politicians, that energy efficiency is always good.

    If it was, noone would buy inefficient alternatives,
    whether of light bulbs or dishwashers.
    One reason is that they tend to be cheaper.
    But perfornmance features are also tied in.

    Take a car.
    A given car is faster and/or safer using more energy, and if modifications are possible, they add expense, not necessarily giving overall savings, depending on how often the car is used etc

    Energy efficient buildings tend to be sealed buildings, without windows tha topen etc.. not alwyas desirable.

    Efficiency in one way is inefficiency in another.
    Such as fan or bar heaters heating rooms quickly, albeit inefficiently (greater power use)

    Why All Energy Efficiency Regulation is Wrong
    The Consumer Side
    Product Performance — Construction and Appearance
    Price Increase — Lack of Actual Savings: Money, Energy or Emissions
    The Manufacturer Side
    Meeting Consumer Demand — Green Technology — Green Marketing
    The Energy Side
    Energy Supply — Energy Security — Cars and Oil Dependence
    The Emission Side
    Buildings — Industry — Power Stations — Light Bulbs


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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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