Low energy light bulbs in Madagascar - a significant step towards energy efficiency
We have an obligation to provide energy to those who need it, but burning more fossil fuels in the form of coal, oil and gas is going to worsen global warming and threaten food and water security further.
In Madagascar, households consume 30 percent of the electricity produced by the JIRAMA - the national electric company. For an average family, lighting represents 10 to 20 percent of their electricity bill.
Last October WWF, along with the Malagasy Ministry of Energy, the Telma foundation and the JIRAMA, launched a project called Lumitsits with the aim of creating a market for energy efficient light bulbs within the country, thus enabling energy savings and access to safe energy for all.
Energy efficient light bulbs, or low energy light bulbs, consume five times less electricity for an equal level of light produced than their ‘traditional’ homologue, who transforms 95 percent of the energy consumed in heat and only 5 percent in light, making them more eco friendly.
‘Low energy light bulbs are the cheapest most efficient available solution for homes’ says Voahirana Randriambola, coordinator of the WWF Footprint Programme.
To kick start the project and stimulate the market, some 6’000 Lumitsits light bulbs (or efficient light bulbs) were distributed in Ambositra, a town of 32’000 citizens in the central highlands of the island, which is the pilot city for the project. Other towns will follow with the objective of distributing 600’000 efficient light bulbs in eight of the biggest towns of the country.
A framework was also agreed upon in order to promote the energy efficient light bulbs at an affordable price and ban, in the long term, the presence of traditional light bulbs in the country.
‘We are hoping for a reduction of 15MW of the average electric power call during the highest traffic time. This would represent an economy of around 10 million USD per year due to a serious reduction in terms of fossil fuel consumption for electricity production by the national electricity company JIRAMA’ Voahirana Randriambola added.
Today Ambositra counts 3’000 households who are subscribed to the JIRAMA. The shift to low energy light bulbs is predicted to decrease their average electricity bill by at least seven percent, a significant economical gain for most households. Moreover, it is expected to increase the available electrical power allowing more homes to have access to electricity.
Eugénie found out about low energy light bulbs thanks to WWF last October when the Lumitsits project was launched. Along with many others she queued in the long lines to get her first Lumitsits light bulbs.
‘Our last energy bill was 40.000 Ar’ said Eugénie Rabetakalo, who lives in the district of Ampitantsena. ‘Even if we share the cost with two other families, the bill is always very hard to pay because of our low income.
‘Thanks to the three Lumitsits light bulbs I received, at this rate in a year’s time I will have been able to save 34 000 Ar, a significant amount of money that would surely improve my family’s well being’ explains
Rabetakalo who put the three light bulbs in her kitchen, children’s room and living room.
But the introduction of low energy light bulbs not only made energy more affordable for her, it changed her views on electricity.
‘I had never made the link between climate change and our consumption of electricity’ she said. ‘The great thing about these light bulbs is that they benefit both the environment and people – they consume less but at the same time increase the access to energy.’
‘People are starting to ask themselves the right questions and thinking about way they can do, at their own level, to be more energy efficient’ explains Irène, a member of the Vintsy Nato Sacré Cœur club. ‘And it’s only the beginning.’
For WWF, who launched it’s ‘Energy Vision Campaign’ last February, the Lumitsits initiative illustrates and endorses the vision that it is possible to develop and live better on a daily basis thanks to a fair and rational use of energy.
To curb and control global warming, we need to keep the Earth below a 2°C (3.4°F) increase in global average temperatures compared to pre-industrial times. There are a multitude of technologies, including energy efficient light bulbs, already available which can help achieve this.
The potential for energy efficiency around the world is tremendous and brings many benefits - whether it is cost savings, reduction of imports and therefore greater energy security, local health and environmental benefits or a slowdown in climate change.
However, technologies form just one part of the jigsaw. As important is the political framework – to ensure that the relevant technologies can really take off and be scaled up. Similarly, it is crucial that businesses and investors are sufficiently informed and prepared to drive forward change rather than wait until it is too late.
We need a revolution in the supply and consumption of energy to achieve this. We need to make a drastic switch from the current reliance on fossil fuel energy to a super-efficient system with low- and zero-carbon technologies.