is there any energy saving?

The idea is to get an extra hour of sunshine to cut down on the electricity consumption of the French. But in fact, the results are mixed.

On the night from Saturday to Sunday, France switched to daylight saving time. So, at 2 am it was 3 am.

If we lose an hour of sleep, we gain an hour of sunlight, because the historical purpose of this measure is to make us consume less energy. A goal that is all the more significant today, when French electricity bills are skyrocketing.

Mixed record to say the least

It should be remembered that this measure came into force in 1976, after the first oil crisis in 1974. Then it was about reducing the electricity bills in the country by limiting, for example, the use of artificial lighting, as well as a French bill brought in to turn on the lights in the houses later.

Unfortunately, the energy balance of this measure is debatable. According to a study by the European Parliament Research Service in 2017, changing the time will save between 0.5% and 2.5% depending on the country.

In France, Ademe (Environmental Protection and Energy Management Agency) has calculated that daylight saving time saves approximately 0.07% of annual electricity consumption, i.e. 351 GWh/year (these are the last known figures). which date back to 2014). This corresponds to the annual consumption of approximately 70,000 households.

In this way, 44,000 tons of CO2 have been avoided, given that for this use, 1 kWh consumed produces 100 grams of CO2, the agency explains.

Economy prone to decline

However, these savings tend to decrease, since in 1996 the savings in electricity consumption were estimated at 1200 GWh/year. per year and 440 GWh per year in 2000. However, according to the agency, the forecast for 2030 will be at best 300 GWh per year.

In short, economies exist, but they are on a downward trend and have a rather limited impact. It must be said that at the same time, many habits have changed. Cities are using more and more low-energy lighting, or street lighting based on the sunny night, as are homes with low-energy light bulbs.

Advantage in thermal use if…

The benefits of using heat, and in particular air conditioning, have been studied in detail, but it appears, still according to Adema, that the reduction or increase in consumption due to time change does not appear to be significant in 2009.

“On the other hand, an additional 130 GWh of electricity could be achieved by 2030 through time change, provided that automatic control systems are installed to comply with temperature guidelines. various contrasting scenarios will lead to an overall reduction in CO2 emissions of 70,000-100,000 tons in 2030 due to the summer regime,” the agency analyzes.

The change in timing also provides a noticeable boost in capacity for power plants, because demand peaks in April, even if they do not reach mid-winter levels, are an important problem for the power supply system.

“Indeed, it is in spring, and even in autumn, that there are high risks of insufficient power reserves,” Ademé recalls.

In 2009, the time change resulted in a 3.5 GW reduction in electricity consumption at 19:00. In 2030, this advantage will remain at an average of about 2 GW.

End of time change? Not now

These low savings and the sleep and health effects caused by this time change are put forward by its opponents. In France, a 2019 poll found that 84% of French people now oppose changing the time.

The European Commission has proposed abolishing it in 2019, but the European Parliament has delayed the decision until 2021. Before the health crisis, the issue was returned to the Greek kalends. The war in Ukraine and the rise in energy prices should also keep this topic out of the discussion.

Olivier Chishportish BFM Business journalist

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