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Energy saving lamp is eco-winner
Date:10/22/2010

ower station emits some 0.042 to 0.045 milligrams of mercury for every kilowatt-hour of energy it produces. A plant generating 1000 megawatts of power therefore releases 42 to 45 grams of mercury into the atmosphere every hour. By comparison, since 2005 compact fluorescent lamps sold in Europe may contain a maximum of only 5 milligram of mercury. In other words, a coal fired power station emits the same quantity of mercury every hour as is contained in 8400 to 9000 energy saving lamps.

It all depends on the use

By far the greatest environmental effects are caused by actually using the lamps. An important factor here is the source of power used, since an incandescent lamp run on electricity generated by a hydroelectric plant is less polluting than an energy saving lamp running on the European power mix. "By choosing to power lamps with electricity generated in an environmentally friendly way one can achieve more in ecological terms than by simply replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps," clarifies Roland Hischier.

But energy saving lamps do have an ecological advantage. This is shown by the determination of the environmental break-even point, which is the time for which a lamp operates in order to inflict a certain degree of total environmental damage. Using the European power mix, which is produced mainly by fossil fuel powered generation plants, both incandescent lamps and energy saving lamps reach their environmental break-even points very quickly - after some 50 hours - due to the significantly higher power consumption of the tungsten filament bulb. With the Swiss power mix this point is reached after 187 hours. But with a typical lifetime of about 10,000 hours for a compact fluorescent energy saving lamp (compared to some 1000 hours for an incandescent bulb), the purchase of such a lamp pays for itself very quickly in an ecological sense.


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Contact: Roland Hischier
roland.hischier@empa.ch
41-712-747-847
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)
Source:Eurekalert

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