Friday, November 20, 2009

California TV power regulations may cut LCD-TV energy consumption in half

EL SEGUNDO, USA: New television power consumption limits imposed by California's Energy Commission (CEC) could cut aggregate annual power consumption of LCD-TVs worldwide in half by the year 2013, if these standards are adopted universally, according to iSuppli Corp.

If all of the 200 million LCD TVs set to be shipped in 2013 complied with the CEC standard, they would use a total of 64.4 billion kilowatt hours for the year, compared to 126.8 billion if they didn't, iSuppli estimates. This represents a 50 percent decline in power consumption. With indications that other states may follow California’s lead, and with the United States the world’s largest LCD-TVs market, it’s conceivable that CEC-style regulations could spread throughout the country and the world.

The CEC regulations conform with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star 3.0 and 4.0 guidelines. The figure presents iSuppli’s estimate of potential worldwide power savings that the CEC/Energy Star 3.0 and 4.0 standards could yield in the year 2013.Source: iSuppli, Nov. 2009

Consumers and industry embrace green trend
The US Consumer Electronics Association is warning that the CEC mandates will have a deleterious impact on consumer choice and technological innovation. The trade organization stated the regulations will result in higher prices for consumers, job losses for Californians, and lost tax revenue for the state.

iSuppli believes the regulations could reduce California tax revenue as consumers purchase larger-sized LCD-TVs through out-of-state channels. Furthermore, the regulations could cause a cessation in sales of certain products in the state, such larger-sized plasma televisions.

However, with both the industry and consumers already embracing greener televisions that consume less power, the negative impacts of the CEC regulations are likely to be limited.

“While the CEA has legitimate concerns, the CEC regulations simply follow suit with the EPA’s Energy Star 3.0 and 4.0 guidelines,” said Randy Lawson, senior analyst, display electronics, for iSuppli.

“Television makers already have been working to cut the power consumption of their products so they can earn the coveted Energy Star label. Furthermore, iSuppli’s research indicates that consumers increasingly are aware of power consumption issues, and are likely to gravitate toward sets that use less electricity. Because of this, television brands will still be offering a plethora of product choices that will be attractive to consumers.”

An iSuppli survey revealed that 46.1 percent of U.S. consumers in the third quarter said green factors influenced their television purchasing decisions. The same survey showed that 43.4 percent of those consumers considered power savings to be the most important green feature.

Big TVs, big power consumption
The TV industry represents the key battleground for reducing energy consumption in the consumer electronics business.

“Due to sweeping changes in the television technology that have occurred during the past five or six years—changes which show no sign of slowing down—the problem of energy efficiency has come become a paramount consideration,” Lawson said. “The once-dominant CRT television set—with its much smaller average screen size and lower brightness—consumed much less power per year than today’s bright High-Definition (HD) flat-panel sets.”

With regards to rising TV power consumption, the primary issue is not the CRT-to-LCD shift itself, but rather the shift to larger screen sizes that has accompanied that technology transition.

“At screen sizes smaller than 26 inches, there’s only a small difference between the energy consumption of current LCD TV displays and equivalent-sized CRTs, which maxed out at about 35 inches,” Lawson observed. “However, larger screen sizes, such as the popular 37- , 40- , 42- and 50-inch flat panel screens, consume dramatically more energy than the older, much smaller CRT screens.”

With LCD and plasma makers offering very low prices for TV sets 40 inches and larger, hordes of consumers have been willing to upgrade their older televisions. Sales of sets with screens sized 40-inches and larger now represent 27 percent of all televisions sold annually.

Seeing green
The ever-more-restrictive television power consumption standards in California and elsewhere definitely will impact the path of technology development for flat-panel TVs, affecting panel materials, LCD backlight designs and system audio/video electronics.

Many design changes will occur in the television electronics and OEM-enabled features, including technologies like ambient light sensing to help enable intelligent backlight drive options.

However, the largest energy-savings gains will come from redesigns of panel materials and backlight source electronics. One very effective approach allowing power reduction will be the shift from traditional Cold-Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFLs) to LED backlighting.

Use of direct-lit LED backlighting can yield power saving of 40 percent or more for a typical 30-inch-or-larger LCD-TV compared to using a CCFL.

Source: iSuppli, USA

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