I agree that mercury content and performance of CFLs (vis-à-vis poor power quality of some developing country electricity grids) are important factors for consideration in large-scale deployment of CFLs. These are addressed within both the programmatic approaches, such as the one implemented in Bangladesh, and through policy-based interventions, wherein the highest level technical specifications and threshold benchmarks for CFLs such as ELI (http://www.efficientlighting.net), IEC, EST, etc are generally adopted. Please see the “CFL Toolkit” http://www.esmap.org/esmap/sites/esmap.org/files/216201021421_CFL_Toolkit_Web_Version_021610_REVISED.pdf prepared by our team earlier this year, which provides some relevant links and references about both these issues. CFLs with less than 5 mg of mercury, and with 6,000 to 10,000 hours life are becoming the norm. Similarly, on the power quality front, CFLs which can withstand wide voltage fluctuations (150-250 V), have minimum efficacy of >55 lumens/watt, have high power factor (>0.8) and entail lower harmonics are now readily available at affordable prices, as have also been used for the ELIB program in Bangladesh. One of the primary objectives of the World Bank –funded efforts in developing countries as well as similar initiatives being pursued by partner countries themselves [like - Government of India’s 400 million CFL program, "Bachat Lamp Yojana" http://india-climate.blogspot.com/2010/05/bees-masterstroke-bachat-lamp-yojana.html ] and those pursued by other organizations such as the ADB, UNEP, GEF, etc. is to introduce, create demand, and transform markets for highest quality CFLs at affordable prices. At the same time, long-term CFL’s mercury disposal and recycling options are also addressed under these initiatives, sometimes incentivized through potential carbon revenues. Given the high energy efficiency benefits of CFLs compared to incandescent lamps, their application for mitigating electricity crisis have been pursued in many countries. As a result of the popularity and affordability of this technology, the worldwide demand for CFLs have grown rapidly
. Over 3 billion CFLs were produced globally in 2009 compared to only 500 million in 2000. European Union, Australia, Canada, USA and some developing countries have actually started banning incandescent lamps altogether in favor of CFLs, through phase-out policies and mandatory regulations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phase-out_of_incandescent_light_bulbs.
With the ongoing lighting technology revolution, it is expected that within the next 4-5 years, LED based systems – which do not entail the mercury problems at least and have longer life (and which are currently being applied cost-effectively for off-grid solutions) will start becoming viable for household lighting amongst grid-connected customers also. But, for now, it appears that CFLs outweigh both LEDs and incandescents, as a cost-effective option for widespread application of household lighting energy efficiency improvements.