Lighting the road ahead

New technologies set fresh challenges for IEC TC 34

The lighting sector is experiencing a deep transformation across the world as new energy-efficient lighting technologies that first appeared a few years ago gain wide adoption. They are being adopted throughout the world as countries seek to control their energy consumption. IEC Technical Committee (TC) 34: Lamps and related equipment, and its Subcommittees (SCs), develop International Standards for electric light sources including energy-efficient lighting solutions.

Skate park with LED floodlights (Photo: Osram Lighting Solutions)
Skate park with LED floodlights (Photo: Osram Lighting Solutions)

Cutting energy use, an economic and environmental imperative

Lighting accounts for 15% of global electricity consumption and 5% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, 1,2 billion people lack access to modern energy services, including reliable lighting, according to the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM).

An article in the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation’s Energy Efficiency Magazine for COP22 claims that “population growth and increased urbanization are expected to cause a 50% rise in lighting demand by 2030.”  The article argues that a “global lighting transition to advanced lighting solutions such as LEDs (light-emitting diodes)” would “cut electricity consumption from lighting in half over that same time period.” This global transition is the goal of the Global Lighting Challenge (GLC) launched at COP21 in Paris in 2015. At the same time it could avoid 800 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, equivalent to 684 coal-fired power plants, according to GLC. 

IEC TC 34 addressing new lighting challenges

To meet these new lighting challenges, IEC TC 34 and its SCs have changed their structure and developed a large number of International Standards in addition to the continuous development of publications for other types of lighting solutions such as tungsten, halogen or fluorescent lamps.

Due to the introduction of disruptive technology TC 34 is evolving rapidly to address the following general trends observed today:

  • Changes from conventional to LED technology
  • Emerging relevance of lighting systems
  • Integration of lighting into larger eco-systems and overall control systems
  • Pressure to reduce environmental impact linked to energy consumption and materials resources

TC 34 was established in 1948. It has set up four SCs to develop International Standards: SC 34A: Lamps, SC 34B: Lamp caps and holders, SC 34C: Auxiliaries for lamps, and SC 34D: Luminaires. It also has three Working Groups (WGs): WG 5 dealing with “electromagnetic compatibility, electromagnetic fields and power quality…”; WG 6 for photobiological safety, and WG 7 for insulation co-ordination.

The need for interoperability with other equipment and/or installations (e.g. control devices) and rapid technological developments are being increasingly incorporated into IEC TC 34 Standards and other publications, such as Publicly Available Specification (PAS) documents which allow industry-agreed specifications to be developed quickly.

TC 34 estimates that its lighting systems standards may be relevant to the work of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) TC: ISO/TC 274: Light and lighting. 

In addition, an Advisory Group (AG) of TC 34, AG 4: Lighting systems, may recommend collaborating with other organizations and consortia, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the ZigBee Alliance, Bluetooth, the WiFi Alliance, or Echonet to name only a few. This collaboration is needed to consider normative referencing of their specifications or standards in preparing specific IEC TC 34 lighting systems standards. 

Extensive remit – busy agenda ahead

IEC TC 34 also prepares international standards for miscellaneous related equipment not covered by any project of another TC.

As of December 2016, close to 500 publications developed by TC 34 and its SCs were available on the IEC Webstore.

TC 34 and its SCs are suppliers and customers of Standards to a number of IEC TCs and SCs, including TC 20: Electric cables, SC 23B: Plugs, socket-outlets and switches, TC 61: Safety of household and similar electrical appliances, TC 64: Electrical installations and protection against electric shock, TC 76: Optical radiation safety and laser equipment, TC 97: Electrical installations for lighting and beaconing of aerodromes, and SC 121A: Low-voltage switchgear and controlgear.

Given the rapid expansion of the global lighting market and the continuous introduction of new lighting technologies and products, TC 34 and its SCs are set to have a busy agenda ahead for the foreseeable future.