Earth Hurrah Smearth Hurrah

More on the so-called “Earth Hour“. The Age and Sydney Morning Herald (sponsors of Earth Hour) are patting themselves on the back for a “job well done”. Pity that Mediawatch doesn’t get onto them, or at least someone report on this non-event in an objective way.

In a front-page article in today’s edition of The Age, the following claim was made:

According to estimates by AGL Energy, the energy saved slashed almost 30 tonnes of carbon emissions — equal to taking 61,320 cars off the road for the hour.

However, the exact reduction in emissions is still unknown.

No. It is known. The exact reduction in emissions was ZERO. Because, as pointed out before, it did not reduce the amount of electricity GENERATED in that hour. Using electricity does not create emissions (well, negligible any way). Generating it does. And the generators kept on going regardless of how many people turned the lights off.

In fact, far from energy being SAVED, energy was actually WASTED during this hour. Dear, O dear, O dear…

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4 Responses to Earth Hurrah Smearth Hurrah

  1. Peregrinus says:

    How do you figure this? Generators only do as much work as is required to produce the power drawn, and reducing the power draw does indeed save fuel. What do you suppose happened to all the electricity you think was generated, but not consumed by the electric lights which were turned off?

    You’re not under the impression, are you, that your car’s fuel consumptipn when idling is the same as its fuel consumption when travelling at 100 kph up a hill into a head wind?

    So what makes you think that a electric power generator behaves any differently in this regard from a motive power generator?

  2. Peregrinus says:

    OK, I’ve read the post below. Now I see where you’re coming from.

    Bringing an additional generator online, or taking it offline, is a fairly major effort which requires advance planning (although, of course, electricity generation companies will have known about Earth Hour in advance). Hence a very large and unexpected change in power draw can cause the system to crash (if the fluctuation is upwards) and does not yield the potential savings it might have done (if the fluctuation is downards) if it is not possible to take a generator offline.

    Nevertheless, there are savings even if a generator cannot be taken offline, because a generator can reduce output (or a number of generators can), and this does save fuel, athough not as much as would be saved by shutting down. Generators step up and step down output all the time; at your local electricity generator they will be monitoring popular television broadcasts carefully, because the number of electric kettles that get turn on at the end of a broadcast will require the generators to step up. The fact that the power companies bother to do this shows that they can indeed save fuel by not running generators at a higher level than needed to meet the actual power draw. Furthermore when power consumption falls any excess power need not necessarily be “dumped” most electricity grids include output equalization mechanisms (e.g. pump storage stations – excess power is used to pump water back up the hill in a hydro station).

    But perhaps the main point of earth hour is not really the power saved over what is, after all, only one hour in the course of the year. The point is to focus on lifestyle generally and, in this regard, it seems to have been successful in your house.

  3. Schütz says:

    Are you sure that the output of generators can be manipulated to such a minute degree of change in demand, Perry? (Kettles at the end of programs? Really?) The information I received does not indicate this.

  4. Rob says:

    It was a stupid stunt anyway. I find it amusing (really , I do) that all my envoronmentalist acquaintances (I live near Sedona Arizona, I know lOTS of ’em) live in houses by themselves or with their “partner” and pay as much or more in electricity than I do with my pack of kids. One light bulb lets three of us read, use the computer, watch TV, play chess, etc.

    But I’m the evil creator of those CO2 output machines called children! LOL And they drive their old cars to rallies and smoke dope and microwave their tofu burgers and use birth control pills! They are ALL natural! LOL Nope, no problem here.

    PS – my goal for this blog is to start leaving non-smartass comments that intelligently contribute ot the discussion. In fact, that is just a general life goal for me.

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