Statues and historic buildings are going dark in Europe. France’s famous Louvre and Versailles museums turned off lights and so did the famed Eiffel Tower in Paris this week. Berlin’s impressive monuments, 200 of its most famous buildings and structures’ illumination systems, including the ones at the Victory Column and Charlottenburg Palace, will also not light up during the evenings.
Munich as well as Hanover has turned off hot water in city-run buildings and leisure centres. The ornamental lights that grace city monuments are switched off to cope with surging electricity costs.
As part of the energy saving plan, the Paris city administration announced the city’s power shut, lowered the water temperature in municipal pools and delayed heating public buildings to save energy this winter.
Paris’ energy bill would hit 90 million euros this year, 35 million more than usual. According to city administration, such blackouts can evade risks of crises as much as cutting down 20,000 flashing bulbs every hour and decreasing the power reduction by 4%. On the other hand, new reports reveal, Berlin shutting off the 1,400 projectors would anyway require workers to manually work at each site. The city won’t profit financially on the €40,000 reduction in energy, utilising this sum to instead pay those workers.
This isn’t the first time Eiffel Tower’s spotlights were reduced with better efficiency to save energy. A series of illuminations have followed suit at the Tower’s internal structure. From fluorescent tubes, small lights besides a new illumination of sodium-vapour lights or spotlights with power reduced from 1000w to 600w have been installed inside its structure over the past few years.
In fact, in 2004, for the year of France in China, Paris was decked in red, in 2007, green for the rugby World Cup and pink each year for the ‘Pink October’ campaign to fight breast cancer.
Switching lights is one such precaution, while there are cultural institutions like Musée d’Orsay in Paris that have adopted energy saving methods, reduced its energy consumption by a third by changing bulbs to SoLux, a patented light source that provides an unparalleled replication of natural daylight with minimal amounts of blue light.
SoLux is used by many of the world’s top museums including the Musee d’Orsay, Van Gogh Museum and Guggenheim Museum. It is known to have eight times the life and twice the efficiency of standard incandescent sources, and does not contain the mercury found in fluorescent lights sources, and is a fraction of the cost of LED sources. It was when findings over the years from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and Perugia University, Italy revealed that paintings by Van Gogh and Cezanne have been turning an olive green and were largely affected by the LED lamps in museums, which emit blue light.
Los Angeles cut its annual carbon emissions by 43% in 2014, and saved $9 million in energy costs by replacing the city street lamps with light-emitting diodes. Even the Statue of Liberty in March 2017 went dark for an hour. It is believed that the dark hour outage was either part of International Women’s Day strike to refrain from engaging in any form of paid or unpaid labour or from an electrical problem that emerged from the monument’s repairs.
Meanwhile, the act of turning off the lights has influenced positive changes when lights turn off every year in March to mark Earth Hour to reflect on the ever-lasting impact on the planet and how one can make a difference. A worldwide movement organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) celebrates moments and collaborates with people of all ages, cultures and communities to show how much they care for the future of the planet. Delhi, Mumbai, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, Sydney, Rome, Manila,
Singapore, Dubai and other prominent cities switch off their electrical appliances and non-essential lighting fixtures for one hour, every year to support Earth Hour.