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last year’s levels. However, because the new quota for exports has been amended to include ‘ferroalloys’, which contain rare earth metals, EU officials and traders suggest that it is an effective decrease in REE exports.


The obvious solution is to seek new sources of REEs. There are reserves in the USA, Australia, Russia, India, and Malaysia, but expanding mining in these regions takes time. REEs from these countries are unlikely to become available until 2012 or 2013. Another option is to obtain phosphors through recycling, but this process is in its early stages and will not have an immediate effect. The problem of rising lamp prices is worsened by the volatility of global energy markets, which has led to a rise in wholesale energy costs. This has driven up electricity prices by as much as 60% in some cases. With organisations already struggling to manage an increased spend on fluorescent lamps, contending with soaring energy bills is pushing many things to the limit.


“The combination of phosphor shortages and rising energy prices is creating a big problem for UK business,” comments


Kevin Cox, Technical Director of light sector specialist, Energys Group. “What organisations are looking for is a way to stabilise their lighting spend, instead of being buffeted by market forces. Boosting energy efficiency on-site is by far the most pro-active response to the crisis, and selecting retrofit solutions can help to keep costs to a minimum.” Energy-efficient lamps with long life spans


provide the best defence to price increases in both electricity bills and replacement lamp costs. Good quality T5 lamps have a life expectancy of over 20,000 hours, and organisations can expect to use up to 65% less energy by using T5 lamps. “News of the phosphor shortage should not be seen as an all-out warning against fluorescent lamps,” says Mr Cox. “It is important that organisations differentiate between short-lifespan older lamps and the newer, energy-efficient long life lamps. By choosing the latter option, businesses can drastically reduce both the frequency of lamp replacement and also cut their electricity bills.”


The value of upgrading to energy-efficient T5 lamps is well established, but in these harsh economic times, many organisations remain risk-averse and unwilling to


www.a1lightingmagazine.com


undertake the cost of an expensive lighting upgrade. However, Mr Cox warns, “It is a false economy to leave in place old, energy-wasting lamps.


“It is likely that prices for both energy and lamps will continue to rise,” he adds. “My advice to businesses is to avoid further delays in their decision-making process and start the upgrade to newer, efficient lighting now. Many energy-efficient lighting conversion projects are now paying for themselves in less than a year, and with financing options also available it is often possible to upgrade with no capital outlay at all.” Fluorescent lighting, once a small and often overlooked outlay, is becoming a substantial financial burden. The good news is that improving energy efficiency can insulate businesses against the worst of the crisis, whilst allowing them to reduce their environmental impact.


Contact


www.energysgroup.com www.saveiteasy.co.uk


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