Peter Liese MEP: ‘Intelligent lighting has biggest saving potential’

"Lighting systems are definitely a part of the common market and I don’t think it would be good if member states have different legislations.," says Peter Liese. [© European Union 2017 - Source : EP.]

This article is part of our special report Lighting.

The EU’s ban on incandescent light bulbs was the low-hanging fruit for energy savings in lighting, believes German MEP Peter Liese. Much more can be achieved now with modern lighting technology, he told EURACTIV in an interview.

Peter Liese is a German MEP from the ruling Christian Democratic Party (CDU), affiliated to the centre-right European People’s Party (EPPP). On 11 October, he is hosting a conference on “Lighting and Well-Being in Buildings” in the European Parliament

In 2008, the EU decided to ban incandescent light bulbs as a way to promote more efficient lighting and cut carbon dioxide emissions. Almost ten years on, what is your assessment of this measure?  Has it been successful in your view?

The Communication of the European Commission was not perfect and maybe the incandescent light bulb ban should have been not the first measure under the Ecodesign Directive, but all in all, I think it has been very successful. The decision allows us to save as much energy as four nuclear power plants can produce.

What can EU regulators now do to further cut energy consumption and emissions from lighting? Have we reached the limits?

We definitely didn’t reach the limit. Modern LED technology and even more innovative lighting systems can save much more energy.

In which areas is the savings potential highest?

I think the biggest saving potential is in intelligent lighting. But also other areas need to be addressed. That doesn’t mean that everything has to be done by command and control. I think the existing legal framework already pushed innovation a lot.

How can the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) make a difference with regards to lighting? What are the most important aspects that Parliament will have to vote on?

The Parliament’s report underlines the importance of “healthy indoor climate conditions”, which also refers to natural and artificial lighting and that national long-term renovation strategies should integrate considerations for improvements to health and indoor climate.

A recent study for the European Commission argues that lighting also has an impact on the wellbeing of people. That sounds a bit far-fetched. Are those benefits sufficiently well documented?

The effect of lighting on the wellbeing of people is in my view well proven and we should encourage companies and private building owners to make use of it.

Human Centric Lighting has emerged as a new concept to enhance not just vision but also wellbeing of people – whether at work or at home. This sounds like a good architectural concept for Feng Shui enthusiasts but surely this has nothing to do with policy. Or could this inspire policymakers too?

I think human centric lighting has a very good scientific base. On the other hand, we need to carefully consider if we go for legislation in this area. Information and encouragement are the better options currently in my view.

Is lighting and wellbeing something the European Commission should pick up, maybe as part of Occupational Health and Safety policies? Or should this be left to the member states along the subsidiarity principle?

Lighting systems are definitely a part of the common market and I don’t think it would be good if member states have different legislation. But the question is if we need legislation at the current stage. In my view, the answer is no. We need to work with information and incentives. But if we need legislation, it should be European.