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France sees a historic decline in electricity consumption from street lighting

origin 1The lights on the Champs Elysees were turned off earlier this year to save energy. ©AP Photo/Lewis Joly

French electricity consumption from public lighting fell by a historic 20% between midnight and 4am compared to last year as the country faces concerns over possible power outages due to problems with its nuclear fleet.

The decline was recorded in the first half of December for public lighting, which accounts for 40 percent of the annual electricity consumption of many communities, according to Enedisoperator of the French electricity distribution network.

France has addressed concerns of possible power outages due to problems with the country’s nuclear fleet and issued a energy saving plan in October to cut demand.

The country is expected to have the lowest annual electricity generation from nuclear power this year. Several reactors were shut down after corrosion problems were encountered due to reactor maintenance delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are currently 16 reactors in France at a standstill, according to the French public electricity company EDF, but three of them were not in operation due to the reduction in electricity consumption linked to the recent mild temperatures.

Reduce public lighting

With 11 million light points across the country, public lighting has an energy requirement equal to the power of a nuclear reactor, according to Enedis.

There have been efforts to reduce the use of public lighting by turning off the lights before dark, a measure which has often been taken in smaller cities and towns.

Larger cities have prioritized reducing heating in public buildings and experimenting with reduced public lighting for some buildings.

The city of Paris said in September it would turn off the “ornamental lighting” of municipal buildings and theaters from 10pm, while the lights on the Eiffel Tower would go out from 11.45pm.

In Lyon, the city has been experimenting with switching off the lights four times a week between 2am and 4.30am as part of various energy saving measures.

Energy saving

Earlier this month, Enedis announced that households and businesses have also reduced their electricity consumption, with households decreasing by more than 10%.

Across Europe, governments have called on citizens and businesses to conserve energy amid cuts in Russian gas supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions.

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

This was partly due to concerns about the need to ration gas during the energy crisis.