Opposing an EU directive that deals a death blow to show lighting

No one knows what has gotten into the heads of the members of the European Commission, but the fact is that, without a reaction from us before May 7th, the show lighting industry in the broadest sense – but also all those who use this lighting in the 28 Member States – will receive a death sentence from Brussels with the 1st of September 2020 as the execution date.

Let’s start from the beginning

As part of the perfectly legitimate pursuit of combating energy waste, the European Commission launched the Ecodesign Working Plan in 2005, which incorporated preparatory studies, energy saving forecasts and proposals for solutions in a very large number of areas, ranging from air conditioning to data servers, from televisions to washing machines, from clothes dryers to “lighting products”.
This is where it gets complicated, because the studies of lighting were finalized in December 2015, with expected savings of around 50 TWh per year for all 28 countries, and a number of rules have been decreed. All this is indicated on the draft of the 2016-2019 version of the Ecodesign Working Plan, even though – as of now – we have not managed to get a hold of all the official documents specifying some of the numbers that we will indicate further on. We will update this news as soon as we have them.

As it stands, the most absurd measure that is likely to be voted – and which stands to undermine our entire industry and all the technicians who make it their livelihood – is the prohibition of the sale of light sources (either lamps or LEDs) incapable of achieving a luminous efficiency granting the future F rating starting at 85 lumens per watt within the European Union after the 1st of September 2020.

As of today, NOT A SINGLE SOURCE of our fixed or moving light fixtures operates with such efficiency and if, in the future, the manufacturers succeed, it will, in any case, necessitate the de facto replacement of the entirety of existing fixtures. This is akin to a funeral for the 1st class of our businesses. Of course, no tungsten or arc lamp can comply, and no more research is being conducted on these technologies. Suffice to say that, though legally nothing will prevent you from keeping your fixtures, it will still no longer be possible to re-lamp them, once you have exhausted your existing stock and that of your supplier… unless you decide to “go pirate”. That’s an odd prospect.

A second measure provides that no fixture or lamp should consume more than 0.5 watts in stand-by. I know some design offices that are scratching their heads to premature baldness over this issue, because here, too, this seems well beyond unrealistic for the complex moving heads that make up the backbone of today’s lighting rigs. These consume more than that just waiting for DMX commands…
Exemptions exist for video projectors (the cinema industry had to dig in its heels) and apparently for shows, such as, for example, the possibility to use projectors of 82,00 lumens and more, but as the director of ETC London, Adam Bennette, points out, the bar was set at least 20,000 lm too high. Adam also specifies that, obviously, the authors of this possible directive worked only on white light, completely forgetting that in the world of show lighting one works mainly with color and that, in this case, the levels requested are even less feasible.

The English associates of the ALD (Association of Lighting Designers) raised the alarm over this and are at the forefront of the fight. They confirm the disconnection between our trade and tools and the proposed texts of the directive that, while commendably accelerating progress and energy savings, concern essentially only white light sources for domestic use.

Though we are quite pro-EU here at SoundLightUp, we lament this sort of amalgam of cookie-cutter solutions and the absolute lack of consultation with sectors that actually consume little current, have quickly switched to very economical LEDs and, especially, make life better thanks to the magic of all kinds of shows.
It must indeed be clear from this text that even TV lighting kits, those for cinema and, of course, all the lights for live shows, amusement parks, even monuments such as the Eiffel Tower beacon will, at best, be frozen for years waiting for the industry to offer compatible “70 to 85 lm/w” sources, or, at worst, removed when the light source will need to be replaced.
But which vendors or manufacturers will be able to afford a new inventory, while throwing out the existing one, which will have NO resale value any more? This signs a death sentence for manufacturers in the sector, who will be forced to engage in costly research and development without selling anything in the meantime, and will cause the disappearance of service providers, who will see their business plans profoundly in doubt.

The Czech manufacturer Robe, through the voice of its CEO, Josef Valchar, has just published an alarming text and has contacted public authorities, as has Christopher Ferrante, CEO of Ayrton. Doubtlessly, all European decision makers in our industry will follow suit in the coming days.

FYI, we remind you that the public consultation where it is possible to report dissatisfaction with these potential decisions will close on May 7th, 2018. You can find it here
And here you will find the list of Members of the European Parliament, in order to express your disapproval.

Yes, we love Europe because we do not want more conflicts, we do not want more hives full of dead bees, we do not want more incoherent tax rates that open the door to tax evasion. But, for all that, we do not want stupid, hastily-crafted laws, which serve only as rallying points for populism and rejection of Europe.

Therefore, pending the organization of a real common response – probably a moratorium allowing the exclusion of activities like ours from the directive, as our energy consumption is minimal and will have no impact whatsoever on the expected savings of 50 TWh per year, or even delaying the implementation of these guidelines – we advise you all whether you work in sound or lighting, whether you are a service provider or in production, even you spectators and artists, to immediately sign the petition that the ALD has put online at Change.org.

SoundLightUp is going to collect and consolidate the opinions, reactions, ideas and, unfortunately, also the legitimate fears of the French market by regularly posting new points, while updating this same item and the rest of our news had we overestimated or underestimated the scope of these future regulations.
Remember that it is very complex to search through the maze of decisions, directives and, in general, the work of Brussels that is obscure but often useful. Often but not always.

For further information:

Crédits -

Text by Ludovic Monchat

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