Berlin has decided to turn off the lights of several monuments and historic buildings overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, as part of a national effort to save energy in the face of fears of winter shortages.
Some 200 iconic buildings in the German capital, including the Victory Column, Charlottenburg Palace and the municipality’s town hall, will eventually no longer be illuminated at night.
“Given the war against Ukraine and Russia’s energy policy threats, it is important that we use our energy as carefully as possible,” said Bettina Jarasch, senator for the environment, mobility and consumers in Berlin.
The city will save on the energy consumption of the 1,400 floodlights used to illuminate these sites.
To stop the automatic mechanisms that turn the lights on at nightfall requires human intervention building by building, which will take several weeks.
Berlin will not initially save money thanks to the measure, since the cost of the intervention is equal to the €40,000 in electricity costs saved over one year.
In the short term, “the energy saving effect is decisive for the measurement, not pure profitability”, according to officials in Berlin, which consumes around 200,000 kilowatt hours a year.
Head of state Frank-Walter Steinmeier also tried to set an example this week by announcing that his official Berlin residence, Bellevue Palace, would no longer be lit at night, except on special occasions, such as state visits.
For several weeks, the government of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been calling for a national mobilization to save energy, while prices have exploded since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Russia recently drastically cut gas supplies from Germany – one of its main customers – as part of its standoff with the West, stoking fears of winter shortages.
A campaign has been launched, aimed at professionals and individuals, in Germany to promote certain practices, such as lowering the air conditioning of buildings, favoring public transport or buying shower heads that consume less water.
Many major cities across the country have also announced energy conservation plans.
Before the war in Ukraine, Germany bought 55% of its gas from Russia, a share reduced at the beginning of June to 35% but which still leaves the country at the mercy of gas cuts decided by Moscow.
The energy company Gazprom has, in several stages, reduced gas deliveries to Germany to 20% of its capacity via the Nord Stream gas pipeline.