GE Quietly Folds on High Efficiency Incandescent

edison with light bulb image

Old Thomas Alva was no slouch with the elbows in the corners when it came to patent battles or discrediting competitors, and neither are his successors at General Electric. While we generally admire the company, we were not impressed with their announcement a year and a half ago that they were working on more efficient incandescent bulbs, that "In addition to offering significant energy savings comparable to CFLs, the 21st century version of Edison’s bulb provides all the desirable benefits including light quality and instant-on convenience as incandescent lamps currently provide at a price that will be less than CFLs."

I wrote that the timing of the announcement was suspicious(it was the same day as the launch of 18 and a lot of incandescent bans were being discussed) , and " would also suggest that announcing a bulb that will be half as good as a CFL when it is launched in three years has just given a whole lot of people an excuse to do nothing."

immelt ge photo

Jeff Immelt, GE President, New York Times
Tyler Hamilton of Clean Break wondered what had happened to this new superbulb, particularly since GE had restructured its lighting business in the meantime; he got this response to his request for information.

"GE Consumers & Industrial and GE Global Research have suspended the development of the high-efficiency incandescent lamp (HEI) to place greater focus and investment on what we believe will be the ultimate in energy efficient lighting — light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Research and development of these technologies is moving at an impressive pace and will be ready for general lighting in the near future. LEDs and OLEDs used in general lighting are now poised to surpass the projected efficiency levels of HEI, along with other energy-efficient technologies like fluorescent, and have the additional benefits of long life and durability."

So was it ever real, or was it just a political diversion to stop efforts to bring in incandescent bulb bans? Who knows. The one thing we do know is that the 130 year old Edison incandescent bulb is now officially dead, going out not with a bang, but a whimper.

More on Light Bulbs in TreeHugger:
GE announces High Efficiency Incandescent Light Bulbs. Why?
Ed Begley, Jr. on Saving Energy, Saving Money, and Looking Up
CFLs Could Curb Global Lighting Demand by 40% - and At What Cost?
Real Simple's Top Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
CFL Bulb 2.0 by Felix Stark Looks Like an Incandescent

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