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Switch-a-thon!

Derek asked you to switch off any unnecessary electrical equipment to save energy On Friday, January 19th 2007, we asked YOU to save energy and money by turning off any unnecessary electrical appliances. We wanted everyone to work together to reduce the demand for power between 3pm & 5pm in a "switch-athon". Derek, Richard and Eanna broadcast the programme live from Ireland's only passive house, Out Of The Blue, in Wicklow. They explained how passive houses can save energy and gave advice on how to help protect the environment by saving money on their electricity bills. And Terry Flanagan was at EirGrid, keeping an eye on how Mooney listeners affected demand from the National Grid, minute by minute. Here's Terry's report of how the day went:

"Friday, January 19th, saw the broadcast of Mooney Goes Wild from the home of Tomás O'Leary in Co. Wicklow. The main thrust of this programme was to encourage listeners all over the country to switch off unwanted appliances in the home and to reduce energy usage.

During the programme we asked listeners to switch off lights that were not being used, turn off computers that were left unattended and to remove phone chargers from sockets in the wall, even if there was no phone attached. All this to see if our listeners could make a difference. And to monitor any difference, I was dispatched to the National Control Centre at Eirgrid, in the centre of Dublin.

Being in the Control Centre is like standing on the deck of the "Starship Enterprise". A huge room full of electronic data collecting equipment, a wall more than 100 ft. long of figures, graphs and charts and banks of monitors on desks, all providing the knowledge that is required to maintain a smooth running operation - an operation to provide us all with the electricity that we require.

What most people don't realise however, is that electricity cannot be stored, and that at times our demands come very close to the absolute maximum that can be generated. In fact, we often have to import electricity from Northern Ireland.

Also the production of electricity produces toxic greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere.

During the broadcast, I monitored the data as it appeared, second by second. Every day, there is an "energy spike" in demand for electricity between 3 - 6pm. It was hoped that by highlighting this to our listeners we could help to slow down the rise in demand for this period.

It was decided to compare this day's demand against Jan. 18th and Friday Jan 12th. Initially, at 3pm, demand for electricity was greater than either of the other days. As the programme was aired there was a noticeable decrease in the rise of this spike. By 4pm, Chief Executive of Eirgrid, Dermot Byrne, could confirm a decrease of at least 1 Megawatt of power. This equates to 10,000 people, each turning off a single 100 Watt light bulb.

Not to be content with this, we urged our listeners to do even more!

By 5pm our energy demands had dropped below both January 18th and Friday 12th, with a decrease of at least 3 Megawatts on what would have been used had the programme not highlighted the issue. 3 Megawatts is the equivalent of 30,000 listeners each turning off a 100 Watt light bulb!

A huge success, especially when you consider that this saving meant a reduction of 4 tonnes of CO2 emissions during the period of broadcast. Before the broadcast, we hoped for a reduction of 1 Megawatt of power. We got a savings of 3 Megawatts. We are absolutely delighted! It does go to show that you the listeners CAN make a difference. Well done and thanks!"

Terry Flanagan

Monitoring operations in the National Control Centre at Eirgrid

Monitoring operations in the National Control Centre at Eirgrid

The National Control Centre at EirGrid

The National Control Centre at EirGrid

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