Speaking to a newspaper this weekend, government ministers in Britain intend to ban giant flatscreen plasma TVs that don't meet stringent energy efficiency requirements. It sounds draconian, but apparently it's all with the goal of protecting the environment.
Plasma TVs are worse in terms of electrical efficiency than both LCD TVs and sometimes even old-tech cathode-ray tube TVs—it's simply that the way each pixel in a plasma screen emits its own light makes the pixel array less efficient the larger the panel is. (Eds note: my own Pioneer plasma produces a startling amount of heat—and an amazing picture.) As digital TV booms, and technology improves while prices drop, the number of flat screen TVs in homes has exploded. Simultaneously, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) the average screen size has grown over the last five years from 24- to 32-inches up to 32- to 42-inches. This has resulted in a growing demand for electricity, with the devices themselves being less energy efficient.
As far as the EU is concerned it's all about carbon dioxide emissions—regulations are expected this year which will phase out the least efficient plasma screens and require efficiency labeling similar to that used on fridges and washing machines. This "will make it easier for consumers to identify the most and least energy-efficient televisions available," according to DEFRA. Whether consumers will make decisions about TVs based on image quality and price rather than energy efficiency is a different matter.