Skip to main content

Interrogations Surrounding the Earth Hour Event

For the ones you know me, they can attest that I am a fervent believer in energy savings measures. The easiest ones are to switch off the light when you do not need it, switch off electronic appliances when you stop using them, or use energy savings fluorescent light bulbs. But the Earth Hour event is posing me some problems.

First, I believe that it is every day that we should be sober in our consumption of energy, and primarily electricity. The mediatic effect of the event is certainly convincing, and making a party of an energy savings campaign looks very appealing. But I believed we were over the phase of sensibilisation and have entered the phase of action, again, in every day life, not just on Saturday evening around candles. Limiting an energy saving action to one hour on Saturday night is nearing hypocrisy.

Second, I remember comments from professionals of the electric industry that expressed concerns as to the environmental effects of such inpredictable variations in load consumption at large scale. Those professionals may not be in favour of such events for economic reasons, and drop in consumption is certainly a manageable challenge for grid operators, which will act almost like in a blackout recovery. Mediatisation surrounding the event certainly helps operators anticipate... but still, do we need to put the electricity network under stress to send a message instead of reducing every day our consumption? Similarly, what is the effect, at the end of the event, when everybody switches on the light in synchronisaton? Where goes on the grid the lost production of electricity that continues to happen during the earth hour?

If you really need inspiration, you can try to apply the energy savings measures described by, e.g.: Energy Savings Trust UK; ADEME compaigns in France; Norwegian ministry of Energy advices on energy savings (+ see videos on NRK website). On EU policy measures, see the recent Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 of the European Commission.


very interesting