Earth Hour - people across the globe cut down electricity consumption - lights and heaters in the apartments, lighting of buildings and monuments - everything is simultaneously turned off for an hour with a goal to raise awareness about our impact on the planet and save resources. But does it actually do us any good?
We have talked to a person who is working in the industry and is closely familiar with how the electrical grid actually works.
Here's what he started with: "I don't want to bore you with specific terms, so I'll ask you a simple question. In which case will the car consume more fuel - when it travels at a stable speed, or in start-stop traffic? The power units work in a similar way - when they work in a sub-optimal mode, needing to adjust to big and sudden changes in the load, they are much less fuel-efficient.
There is however a problem even more important than increased fuel consumption: it is impossible to instantly adjust a power unit, weighing several tons, to a suddenly lower load. It means that the access energy has to go somewhere, which causes either the spikes in frequency and voltage (both harmful to electrical appliances) or minor accidents in the grid, which can be fixed rather quickly and with no interruption of service, but still cost time and money.
Automated response systems have been able to cope with the Earth Hour rather well - with no noticeable impact on the consumer - for now. However, the more people participate in the movement, the more likely it will be that an emergency system will kick in, which will start powering off the whole districts or cities in order to protect the grid.
So what's the solution?
Do NOT participate in the Earth Hour and educate your friends about it as well.
If you want to reduce your environmental impact, you should instead be mindful of your energy consumption every day rather than once a year for one hour.
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