Ireland games help battle against global warming


Ireland's success so far in the World Cup has had the inadvertent effect of contributing to the State's efforts to reduce global warming. This is according to Mr John FitzGerald, an economist with the Economic and Social Research Institute.

Data provided by Eirgrid, the operator of the electricity transmission system in Ireland, shows that during the matches against Germany and Saudi Arabia, electricity consumption began to fall below normal levels between 11.45 a.m. and noon as the State began to knock off for the games.

By the time of the kick-off at 12.30 p.m., electricity consumption throughout the State was 9 per cent below normal, reflecting a major reduction in normal work-related activity, said Mr FitzGerald.

"While a few million fans may have emitted a lot of hot air over the rest of the day, the electricity generation stations had an easy time, burning less than their normal amount of fuel and emitting less than their normal quota of greenhouse gases," he said.

"There are lessons from this experiment for those concerned about global warming. More frequent World Cup matches and more success for Ireland reduces energy demand."

The fall in electricity consumption continued through the matches, with a small blip at half time as kettles and cookers were switched on to make a cup of tea and a snack. It reached a low of 2,700 mw of electricity generation in operation compared to the normal early-afternoon June weekday level of around 3,100 mw. This represents a 13 per cent reduction in demand.

A spokeswoman for the ESB confirmed that demand was more than 350 mw lower last Tuesday during the match against Saudi Arabia. "That would be enough power to power about 400,000 homes at any one time," she said.

Around 15 minutes after the matches, electricity consumption began to recover but data show that work did not return to normal for many people for the rest of the day. Even at 5 p.m., electricity use was still between 3 and 4 per cent below normal and this pattern continued for the rest of the evening as people stayed in pubs celebrating rather than going home to cook a normal evening meal.

"It appears that electricity consumption is significantly reduced in the evening when people congregate together in pubs rather than returning home - a green solution to the problem of global warming," he said.

"However, what continued footballing success would do for the economy is a different question altogether."