France sees historic drop in electricity consumption from public lighting

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By Euronews
The lights on the Champs Elysees are turned off at an earlier time this year to save energy.
The lights on the Champs Elysees are turned off at an earlier time this year to save energy.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Lewis Joly

French electricity consumption from public lighting decreased by a historic 20 per cent between midnight and 4:00am compared to last year as the country faces concerns about possible power outages due to problems with its nuclear fleet.

The drop was recorded in the first half of December for public lighting, which represents 40 per cent of many communities' annual electricity consumption, according to Enedis, the operator of France's electricity distribution network.

France has faced concerns of possible power outages due to problems with the country's nuclear fleet and issued an energy sobriety plan in October to cut demand.

The country is expected to have its lowest annual production of electricity by nuclear power this year. Several reactors were stopped after problems with corrosion were found due to delays in reactor maintenance because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are currently 16 reactors in France that are stopped, according to France's public electricity company EDF, but three of them were not running due to the reduction in electricity consumption linked to recent mild temperatures.

Reducing public lighting

With 11 million lighting points across the country, public lighting has a power demand equal to the power from one nuclear reactor, according to Enedis.

There have been efforts to reduce public lighting use by turning off lights earlier in the evening, a measure that has been often employed in smaller towns and cities.

Larger cities have prioritised reducing heating in public buildings and testing a reduction of public lighting for certain buildings.

The city of Paris said in September it would turn off "ornamental lighting" on municipal buildings and theatres from 22:00 while the Eiffel Tower's lights would shut off from 23:45.

In Lyon, the city has experimented with shutting lights off four times a week between 2:00 and 4:30am as part of several energy saving measures.

Energy savings

Earlier this month, Enedis announced that households and companies had also decreased their electricity consumption, with a more than 10 per cent reduction for households.

Across Europe, governments have called on citizens and companies to save energy due to cuts to Russian gas supply in retaliation over western sanctions.

EU countries agreed over the summer to reduce gas demand by 15 per cent and agreed in September on a mandatory 5 per cent electricity reduction during peak hours and a 10 per cent reduction in overall electricity demand.

This was in part due to concerns about the need for gas rationing amid the energy crisis.