Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Scilly Isles switch off

The Scilly Isles receives its entire electricity supply via a single cable feed from the mainland, so it makes the perfect test bed for energy saving projects. Yesterday, all 2,000 or so residents were encouraged to switch off as many non-essential appliances as possible to see how much energy could be saved. The result was only a 1.2% reduction, but over the same period UK electricity consumption went up 1.5%.

The Energy Saving E-Day initiative wasn't helped by rainy and misty weather, which caused all flights off the islands to be grounded, swelling the population somewhat. And the children had an ill-timed cookery class in the morning - baking scones pushed Five Islands School's consumption up by 30% although by midnight this had been converted to an 8.3% reduction in the previous day's electricity use.

This was the first experiment of its kind to provide live measurements of a whole community’s collective effort to cut their electricity use. For a 24-hour period residents were asked switch off electrical items which do not need to be on in their homes, schools and workplaces, and the reduction in electricity use was monitored in real-time across the Internet and compared with the rest of the UK.

In the run-up E-Day the Isles of Scilly hosted a mini 2-day Earth Summit, bringing together islanders from across the world, including speakers from Galapagos and Papua New Guinea's Carteret Islands, the first refugees of climate change.

The E-Day website includes really interesting and useful content, including a real-time estimate of the national electricity bill for the UK, and the CO2 emissions caused by electricity production. It also provides ways for people across the country to get involved, to get advice on how to cut their own energy use.
E-Day is sponsored by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and is the work of a team led by Dr Matt Prescott, whose successful worldwide ‘Ban The Bulb’ campaign now has 30 countries phasing out domestic incandescent light bulbs in an effort to reduce electricity use and save CO2 emissions.

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