Earth Hour – My spin on it…

From a outsiders view with ignorance bless I can really understand how this became so popular so quick.

I’m a Environmental Technology student at Camosun College and I can see issues with reducing the load significantly and then turning it on after an hour. When the load changes significantly, frequency imbalances can occur (due to either too much or too little power being produced with respect to the load) as it takes time for the generators to adjust to the change in load.

At zone substations we have instruments that measure the frequency and if it changes too much the whole substation trips (and a multiple suburbs lose power). Frequency imbalances are likely to be detected across the network. In a worst case senario this results in a whole generator being taken off the grid. It is also very difficult to start a generator after such an event, the power generation company will be on the phone to the distribution company asking them to switch on a given amount of load eg. “switch on 50MW load once every ten minutes for the next hour”. This is very much guess work for the distribution company and if they stuff up then everything will trip (due to frequency imbalance) and the whole thing starts again. It would be much easier if Earth hour was staggered but I guess we will just have to wait and see (and hope that the effect isn’t great enough to mess with our electricity system).

Not only will it create load in-balances in the grids, the energy that you “save” is energy that still will be produced in our rivers and nuclear plants (these take days to weeks to shut down) and thus just wasted into nothing. It’s basically saying stop all cars for one hour in the middle of the day, but you cannot turn the engine off, keep idling for one hour.
The idea behind it is GREAT, but not for one hour out 8760 of the year. To gain effect we need to purchase low energy lamps and appliances. It’s the thinking that needs switching and NOT for just one hour…  All the time, everywhere! Look at BC Hydro’s website for some great ideas and tips on how to make your condo energy smart!

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