In France, the time change as we know it today was introduced in 1976, three years after the first oil crisis, which had major economic and environmental consequences for Western countries.
This period marked the embryonic start of the first European actions in favor of the environment. In fact, this measure began as an idea of Benjamin Franklin’s, and was finally implemented during the dark years of the 1st World War to “participate” in the war effort, before being abandoned in 1945.
Twenty-five years after it was harmonized at EU level, the question now arises as to whether it is still relevant to maintain this policy, which is producing fewer and fewer benefits. This question is all the more pertinent as the energy savings produced by technologies developed by the ecosystem’s GreenTechs are generating far more results.
The aim of the time change was to synchronize natural sunlight with our human activities, in order to limit the use of artificial lighting in particular, which is a major source of energy consumption, especially in local authorities. Since the early 2000s, the results of the time change have been increasingly anecdotal, offset by the massive development of environmental innovations that have led to significant reductions in our energy consumption.
In 1996, the time change produced savings of 1,200 GWh per year, dropping to 351 GWh in 2016 according to figures from the French Ministry of Industry, EDF and ADEME.
How have technologies outperformed the time change?
The drop in savings produced by the time change is explained in particular by the widespread use of more efficient lighting systems such as low-energy light bulbs and LED systems. The results are also offset by an increase in consumption linked to air conditioning, heating and electrical appliances, the use of which is increasing over the years.
According to ADEME, the decline would continue over the next few years if the time change were retained.
What’s more, certain economic sectors, such as tourism or leisure, can benefit from summer time, while others, like agriculture or transport, may be penalized. But that’s not all. Today, the savings generated by some GreenTech companies far exceed those generated by the time change. The results produced by the ecosystem today are boosted by technologies that are making continuous progress, a difficult market context and regulations in France that have become much stricter under the impetus of the tertiary sector decree.
Beyond the obsolescence of an increasingly unrealistic policy, couldn’t we make the development of GreenTech and its technologies a national issue?