Phasing-out of Incandescent Lamps and Energy Saving Lamps Promotion in China

The Challenge

Incandescent lamps (ILs) typically consume 4 times more energy to provide the same lighting service as energy saving lamps (ESLs) such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which can also last up 10 times longer. Today around the world sales of ILs make up around 70 per cent of the market, in contrast to the 6 per cent that CFL sales contribute as an energy-efficient lighting alternative. China has an important role in this industry, not only for being the second largest economy in the world, but also because of her prominent position as the leading manufacturing country of lighting products. For example, China’s CFL production increased 30-fold from 1996 to 2007. Despite the growth, there is a considerable imbalance with 2/3 of CFLs produced in China intended for export rather than for domestic consumption. China also contributes 1/3 of the world’s total IL production.

The Response


This project aims to better-advocate for and increase the utilisation of ESLs in China. Its approach involves working to transform the local lighting product market and phase-out IL production and sales by focusing on 3 components:

  1. Improving the capacity of the lighting industry to facilitate the switchover to ESLs.
  2. Helping the ESL market to develop and expand, with a particular focus on supply and product promotion.
  3. Developing a more hospitable institutional framework and policy climate to support China’s switch to energy-efficient lighting.


This project has seen great success. The most important outcome has been the adoption of the national road-map to phase-out the import and sale of incandescent lighting. This phase-out programme is now fully underway with the prohibition of the import and sale of all incandescent lamps above 100W coming into force on 1 October 2012 (further restrictions on smaller lamp sizes will come into force incrementally on 1 October 2014 and 1 October 2016, with a review of progress with a view to further action scheduled in 2015).

A number of recommendations for policy revision are currently being finalised or are already under consideration by the government regarding industry support for CFL and LED development and manufacture, the promotion of lighting products in rural areas and tax reform to promote the production and sale of efficient lighting.

There have also been significant developments in expanding demand for efficient lighting. The project has worked closely with the Chinese government to support their subsidy programme promoting efficient lighting products and has facilitated the development of pilot distribution channels into over 500 rural towns and villages.

The production base is rapidly being transformed with ten inefficient IL manufacturers moving to the production of more efficient alternatives, five with project support and five with parallel support from the government. The two conversions completed thus far have already reduced incandescent lamp production by 330,000,000 units and produced 77,000,000 energy saving lamps.

Who finances it?

Donor Amount
Chinese Government
US$ 18,900,000
GEF US$ 14,000,000
Private Sector US$ 32,000,000
Others US$ 600,000

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