Monaco energy supplier SMEG has reported a nearly 10% drop in energy usage across all sectors, with driving forces ranging from government awareness campaigns to consumer concern surrounding the rise in energy costs.
The rhetoric surrounding the energy crisis has spooked many people. Visions of families or the elderly huddling around a small heater in several layers of clothes, being forced to choose between eating and heating, has given society a chance to readjust the way it traditionally uses energy, with the results being somewhat surprising.
The Monegasque Electricity and Gas Company (SMEG), the energy supplier to Monaco for 133 years, has for years been collecting data on consumer usage, but until recently, the algorithms painted a picture of energy usage focused on overall consumption alone. Improvements to the system have allowed SMEG to break it down further into three sub-categories, namely customers with high, medium and low usage.
Across all three groupings, there was an almost 10% drop in energy use from October through to December 2022, compared with the statistics from the same period in 2021. The biggest consumers, such as industrial and large surface businesses, reduced their use by 9.9%; small and medium-sized companies by 8.7%; and the lowest consumers, which includes households, by 8.5%.
“It is significant,” says Sylvain Didierjean, the director of Electricity and Gas Activities at SMEG. “We clearly see that the average consumption over this period is still below the historical average.”
The drops are being accounted for by several factors: an awareness campaign that explained that the Principality could face intermittent power cuts if energy consumption remained high; the current cost of energy; and telecommuting, a change brought on by the Covid epidemic, but which has meant that companies aren’t spending as much on lighting and heating as before.
Though the signs are encouraging, and hopes are high that this shift in behaviour will be long-lasting, there are worries that when summer comes, people will forget. Monaco’s energy usage skyrockets in the summer as people turn on energy-sucking air conditioners as a way to beat the heat during the long hot days.
“We must continue to make efforts, each at their own level, because we remain in a situation of global energy shortage,” continues Didierjean. “There is also the planetary situation, which reminds us that if we limit our consumption, we preserve resources and the planet at the same time.”
But despite the positive developments, Didierjean has been keen to remind people that winter tensions still continue for the time being.
“Due to maintenance operations and power plants still under construction in Europe, we do not yet have all the means of production to ensure that the coming winters go smoothly, and therefore we will still experience tensions during the next two winters,” says the director.
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