France bans illuminated ads at night

A decree has been issued by the government to tighten the use of lighting at night.

It’s not yet a total ban on illuminated ads, but it’s a step. In the Official Journal of October 6, a decree was posted online to impose the extinction of illuminated advertisements and illuminated signs at night – more precisely, between 01 and 06 in the morning. Penalties accompany this decree in the event of an infraction.

A few exceptions are provided for: illuminated advertisements installed on the right-of-way of airports and those on street furniture assigned to transport services, during operating hours. For this last case, however, the decree does provide for extinction under the same conditions. The rule will simply apply from June 1, 2023.

Maintaining lights to illuminate signs at night is increasingly contested. // Source: The imaGiraphe

This provision is one of the axes of the government plan to get through the winter without putting the electricity network in difficulty. Given the energy crisis, sobriety efforts are required of everyone – companies, the administration, individuals. For example, the heating of the hot water tank is shifted out of the 12 p.m.-2 p.m. slot, if certain criteria are met.

The government’s measure is less bold than what parliamentarians have been able to demand in the past. In 2019, a text was tabled in the National Assembly to ban illuminated advertisements in France for good. Not only at night, but also during the day. Clearly, it was a question of targeting the public space of these displays.

The decree justifies its more modest approach by the concern to ” guarantee respect for freedom of expression and freedom of commerce and industry “. It was this argument that had already been put forward during the examination of a previous text which wanted to go further. At the time, issues of property rights and freedom of enterprise had been put forward.

What is the weight of these screens on energy consumption?

According to an estimate made for 2019 by RTE (Réseau de Transport d’Electricité, the manager of the electricity transmission network in the country, a subsidiary of EDF), the weight of these devices on energy consumption in France is modest. We are talking about 0.5 TWh (terawatt-hour), where France consumes 475 TWh over the year. This equates to 0.1% of that total.

If it is a very low weight, it is also a very easy lever to operate (and which is probably less open to controversy than the hot water tank affair). This can be seen as one more stone in the building: measurement alone has no impact. But added to several other actions, the result can help reduce the country’s overall consumption.

According to the Environment and Energy Management Agency, in a report dated 2020, a 2 m² screen consumes 2,000 kWh per year. In comparison, the average electricity consumption of a household, excluding heating and hot water, is 2,700 kWh per year. The number of light panels installed in France is estimated at several thousand.

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