Legislation in Brazil and consequences for the country
Phasing out of the incandescent bulbs in Brazil
1. Interministerial Ordinance nr 1007, December 31, 2010
The policy concerning the phase out of incandescent lamps was regulated, in Brazil, through the Interministerial Ordinance nº 1.007, December 31, 2010 (Diário Oficial da União - Seção 1, Nr 4, 6 de janeiro de 2011). More information can be found on (Felipe Carlos Bastos, Análise da política de banimento de lâmpadas incandescentes do mercado brasileiro, March 2011).
Domestic incandescent lamps 127 volt - 750 hours
Domestic incandescent lamps 220 volt - 1000 hours
The dates regarding the manufacturing, import and commercialization of incandescent lamps in Brazil can be summarized as follows: (Análise, p. 86)
2. Some benefits arising from a ban of incandescent bulbs and the substitution by CFLs, according to the paper of Felipe Bastos, with our remarks
a. Reduction of the energy consumption
Only the energy needed for the lighting in the residential sector has been included. The author of the paper concludes that if in Brazil, all incandescent bulbs were substituted by CFLs from January 1, 2012, the reduction of the consumption of electricity should be 7,424 GWh (for the year 2012). The average of the demand of electriciy on each hour of the day should decrease. (Análise, p. 58)
In 2005, the lighting sector represented 14% of the total energy use. This amounts to 12.6% of the electricity consumption in 2012 and 7.2% in 2030, if no CFLs were used. If all lamps were CFLs, however, this would represent only 3.5% of the total energy consumption in 2030.
b. Reduction of the emission of greenhouse gasses from fossil-fuel fired power stations
If all incandescent lamps were replaced by CFLs, 660.744 tons of CO2 should be saved for the year 2012. What is the relevance of this figure? According to the IEA (International Energy Agency): " In the hypothetical case that all these [incandescent] lamps were to be replaced by CFLs it would save roughly 800 TWh and 470 MtCO2 emissions in 2010 rising to 1200 TWh and 700 MtCO2 in 2030." (IEA, In support of the G8 Plan of Action, Energy Efficiency Policy Recommendations, 2008, p. 20). This means that the contribution of Brazil to the global reduction of CO2 is only 0.1%. (The population of Brazil is 2.74% of the global population.) It is obvious that when 80% of the electricity is produced by hydro power, the emission of CO2 is minimal.
c. Savings in costs
According to Felipe Bastos, the CFLs are on the average 69.4% cheaper than incandescent lamps. So, at first glance, the consumer can take advantage. The calculation is only made on the product price of the lamps and the electricity cost. However, the damage inflicted to the environment by the emission of mercury and the better quality of light of incandescent bulbs are not factored in. Incandescent bulbs have a warmer and a more agreeable light spectrum than CFLs.
3. The disadvantages of the introduction of CFLs
After a ban, the incandescent bulbs will mainly be substituted by CFLs. The author gives a rather extensive overview of the power factor and the harmonic distortion (See Análise p. 8, 69-73; 99, 102). He concludes that in literature no estimates of the economic impacts due to the total harmonic distortion and the reduction of the power factor have bene found. Neither I will examine this matter further.
On the other hand, Felipe Bastos is conscious of the consequences of the mercury in CFLs:
a. Light sensitivity
Like fluorescent lamps, CFL emit a higher proportion of blue light than incandescent lamps. (SCENIHR, (Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks), Light Sensitivity, September 23, 2008, p. 15)
The UV portion of the spectrum is divided into three regions:
The UV content of the emitted spectrum depends on both the phosphor and the glass envelope of the fluorescent lamp. The UV emission of incandescent lamps is limited by the temperature of the filament and the absorption of the glass. Some single-envelope CFLs emit UV-B and traces of UV-C radiation at wavelength of 254 nm, which is not the case for incandescent lamps (Khazova and O´Hagan 2008). Experimental data show that CFLs produce more UVA irradiance than a tungsten lamp. Furthermore, the amount of UVB irradiance produced from single-envelope CFLs, from the same distance of 20 cm, was about ten times higher than that irradiated by a tungsten lamp (Moseley and Ferguson 2008). (Light Sensitivity, p. 11, 16)
The committee notes that the use of double-envelope energy saving bulbs or similar technology would largely or entirely mitigate both the risk of approaching workplace limits on UV emissions in extreme conditions and the risk of aggravating the symptoms of light-sensitive individuals. (Light Sensitivity, p. 4)
In the EU, a preliminary rough estimation of the number of light-sensitive patients who might be at risk from the increased levels of UV/blue light radiation generated by CFL is difficult to estimate. However, a preliminary rough estimation of the worst-case scenario yields a number of around 250,000 individuals (0.05% of the population) in the EU. (Light Sensitivity, p. 4) No studies were found to estimate the percentage of the population of Brazil which is light-sensitive.
b. Impact on the Brazilian economy
c. No proper collection and recycling program
The phasing out of incandescent lamps and the promotion of CFLs in Brazil, from June 30, 2012 on, is very worrisome because of the lack of an efficient system of the removal of solid waste. (Análise, p. 81) The cost of the recycling of one CFL in Brazil in 2010 was from R$ 0.50 to R$ 0.70. This price has to be completed with the costs of transport, packaging costs and accident insurance, so that the total cost of the recycling process can be more than R$ 1.00 per CFL. (At the end of 2011, the exchange rate was (R$ = BRL) BRL 1.88 to USD 1.00.) The collection and recycling of CFLs is very different from other waste products. The bulbs are fragile, must comply with the regularisations of the transport of dangerous waste, have a low weight and a large volume and don't afford any value at the end-of-life. (Análise, p. 97)
The uncontrolled disposal of CFLs can poison the environment. The mercury vapor of broken CFLs in closed spaces can have noxious effects, especially on children. A large number of the population does not know that CFLs contain noxious materials or what to do when CFLs are broken. According to this website, 94% of the CFLs in Brazil end in landfills!
4. Shortcomings of the paper of Felipe Bastos
No quantification has been made concerning the emission of mercury in the air by power plants in Brazil nor by CFLs. Only is mentioned that in Europe, the mercury emission to air by the production of 1 kWh is 0.016 mg. (Análise, p. 95) [We know that this figure was proposed for an electricity production with 31% coal fired power plants.]
We will calculate here an estimate of the mercury pollution in Brazil through the use of CFLs. According to IEA, in 2008, only 2.7% of the electricity in Brazil was produced by coal fired power plants. Let us suppose that the emission of mercury by the electricity production in Brazil was 0.0014 mg/kWh (= 0.016/31*2.7 mg/kWh). Further we assume that CFLs have a lifetime of 7000 hours (Análise, p. 67). The percentage of properly disposed CFLs is 6%.The result is:
You can test it yourself!
We must ascertain that the incandescent lamps (if we consider the halogen bulb also as an incandescent lamp) are almost seven times less polluting than CFLs! Will the saving of 7,424 GWh in 2012 (and 10,145 GWh in 2030) prevail the cost of the mercury pollution? About 300 million incandescent bulbs and 100 million CFLs are reported to haven been sold in Brazil in 2010. Within some years, the number of end-of-life CFLs will be yearly about 200 million. If each CFLs contains 4 mg Hg, 800 kg of mercury will have to disposed of properly. Globally, the average of CFLs disposed of on the right manner is about 20%. If we apply the same figure to Brazil, 640 kg of mercury will pollute the landfills. In 2009, already 930 kg of mercury from fluorescent lamps was left in landfills (Análise, p. 77).
What is the real cost of this new pollution? It is nearly impossible to clear up the grounds and the groundwater from mercury. The only solution is to prevent that mercury will pollute the environment. There are two ways to achieve this goal:
Brazil is one of the rare countries in the world where electricity is produced on a clean manner, i.e. without any substantial emission of mercury. We ascertain that the incandescent lamps cause no emission of mercury at all, while only compact fluorescent lamps pollute the environment with their content of mercury. It is shameful that the lighting manufacturers promote their mercury containing lamps even in regions or countries untarnished by coal fired power plants, e.g. Iceland, Brazil, California, Sweden, etc. It is almost criminal to distribute mercury containing CFLs in unpolluted regions. The net result will be an enhanced pollution of mercury in the environment and ultimately more mercury in the blood of the inhabitants. The declared eco-friendly CFL is in fact a polluting product that endangers the environment and species.
Moreover, the technology of halogen and incandescent lamps gives a better quality of light than the CFLs. The technology of CFLs is just wrong because it is a toxic technology that is given in the hands of the consumers. Nevertheless, from the beginning, lighting manufacturers have almost exclusively mobilized on the CFL technology. Politicians are also responsible for this evolution towards the misuse of mercury for lighting purposes.
It is a shame that Brazil promotes the filthy lucre among citizens knowing very well the irreparable noxious effects from the mercury in CFLs and elsewhere. It is much cheaper to prevent the pollution than to clear it up afterwards. Is profit more valuable to the government than the planet?
Last update January 10, 2012