The UK consumer electronics industry has been left reeling after The Quality of Life Policy Group, a think-tank for the Conservative Party proposed a ban on plasma TVs and other large-consumption electrical appliances. LCD-only TV vendors, who might be privately pleased at any anti-plasma rhetoric, would do well to prepare their defense; in reality, the always-on illumination of LCD is directly comparable to self-illuminating plasma, which sees power consumption vary according to whether an image is predominantly black or bright. Following a similar outcry in Japan over a year ago, numerous demonstrations have shown that over the course of an average movie, both types of display technology consume approximately the same amount of power.
Such facts aside, Conservative Party Leader David Cameron says he would endorse the banning of plasma TVs.
As a result, the Opposition might officially propose either an outright ban on all large screen televisions or (more likely) an additional consumption tax. Only Pioneer has so far defended the technology, explaining that the think-tank’s claims are “incorrect and exaggerated.”
However, both Panasonic and Sony have already set aside huge war chests to promote their green credentials, so a spirited fight-back from the TV industry is likely.
Matsushita (Panasonic) has more reason than most to be concerned by anti-plasma sentiment. It is currently building a fifth production facility in Japan which will boost its annual capacity to 11.5 million plasma sets by 2010. Ironically, the company used the recent IFA tech-fest to state that it can improve the power consumption of its plasma panels by 20 per cent per year, giving the technology a significant green lead over rival LCD.
The Quality of Life Policy Group also supports the abolition of the Standby function on consumer electronics. However, such an ill-thought through proposal, if implemented, could well prove counter-productive. Owners of PVR recording devices may have no option but to leave their products on full-power full time, else they cease to function correctly. Figures suggest that two percent of the UK’s total electricity consumption is used by devices left on Standby.