South Africans committed to saving electricity during Earth Hour on Saturday evening, contributed towards saving an average of 515MW during the hour.

However, during last year’s Earth Hour the country saved 575 MW—enough electricity to power a city the size of Polokwane, indicating a change in behaviour this year.

South Africa’s state-owned power utility, Eskom, said in a statement that as part of its support for the Earth Hour campaign it measured the reduction in electricity used during the hour against typical consumption for the same period on an average Saturday evening.

Beyond Earth Hour

The power utility urged consumers to take action beyond Earth Hour and to make energy efficiency and environmental conservation part of their daily lifestyles.

“We would like to encourage people to take action beyond this one hour and to make energy efficiency and environmental conservation part of their daily lifestyles.

“People are encouraged to reduce their energy consumption every day by using electricity efficiently, switching off all non-essential lights and household appliances,” said Eskom in a statement.

[quote]Last year, Eskom battled to meet electricity demand, but has managed to stave off load shedding for the past seven months through a proactive maintenance plan. The utility expects no load shedding for the rest of the summer going into autumn and winter, it advised in a statement.

“We will continue with a rigorous programme of planned maintenance without implementing load shedding while also minimising the usage of open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs).”

The power utility said commercial customers, particularly shopping centres and office blocks, can also make a big difference by switching off non-essential lights and not leaving office equipment such as photocopiers and computers in standby mode after hours.

Defence against climate change

Siddarth Das, executive director of Earth Hour Global, said in a statement: “Earth Hour reminds us that while people are on the frontlines of climate change, they are also our first line of defence.”

People are encouraged to switch off lights and unused appliances for an hour as a symbolic demonstration of their commitment to action against climate change.

Earth Hour, first initiated by the World Wildlife Fund in 2007 in Sydney, has since grown into the world’s largest environmental awareness initiative, attracting participation from over 41,910 cities and towns across 172 countries on seven continents, including around 10,400 landmarks.

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