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Friday, March 14, 2008

Lights out

I try to be supportive of things that ask us to be "less harmful to the Earth we typically are." It's not surprising that the idea of "Earth Hour" caught my attention.

From EarthHour.org's "about" page:

"On 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour - Earth Hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney's energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year."
In 2008, this is a global initiative.

When I first heard about the idea a month or so ago, my mind raced with questions:
  • Were the power companies brought in the loop in the planning stages of this idea?

  • What would be the impact to the power company / power distribution grid if power consumption dropped abruptly by 20%? 50%? 70%? What magnitude of an abrupt reduction could create a damaging power surge on the transmission grid?

  • If there were a hypothetical 70% drop in demand, what impact would there be to the power companies in managing the decline and then the resumption in consumption? Would there be an environmental impact to taking generators offline and then bringing them online again in an hour's time?

  • What magnitude of increased demand (following the Earth Hour event) could a power company handle without people experiencing brown-outs?

    From the EarthHour.org FAQ page:
    "If everyone turns their lights back on at the same time – will there be a power surge?"

    "No. We’ve checked with energy companies and authorities and turning all the lights back on won’t cause any issues."
  • While there could be significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in cities that consume fossil fuels to product electricity, what is the environmental impact (if any) to decreased energy consumption in areas where electricity production is primarily hydro-electric?
I haven't found answers to all of my questions. But I like that it got me thinking.

For more information about EarthHour, visit EarthHour.org

2008_03_14_earth_hour

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