Energy cost | German energy policy may cost more than it saves, according to the media

An advertising association cautions that adding timers and heaters to advertising displays may end up costing more than simply keeping the lights on.


According to the German Association for Out of Home Advertising, Germany's recently adopted mandate to turn off outdoor advertising at night to save energy may end up costing more than simply leaving the lighting on (FAW).


Starting on September 1, all lit billboards and neon signs in Germany must be turned off at night and for the majority of the day (between 10 pm and 4 pm) to new regulations announced by Economics Minister Robert Habeck.


Kai-Marcus Thäsler, managing director of FAW, told Die Welt that the policy would be challenging to put into practice.


Thäsler argued that the lighting in outdoor advertising systems acts as a heat source to keep the display panels from fogging up and freezing over and that his organization lacks the resources, equipment, and qualified labor to do the work swiftly.


"Heating systems would have to be built instead of the lighting to prevent lasting harm, but their energy consumption would be several times higher," he said.


The process of updating them to the new requirements will also take some time because there are so many illuminated billboards—roughly 92,500—and it might not be finished before the ban ends in February 2023.



Since billboards are "one of the most energy-efficient media," the head of the advertising association also mentioned potential effects on revenues.


Thäsler emphasized that "it is already clear that the costs for the described technical conversion of the advertising media, both in terms of energy consumption and the investments required, will far exceed the savings that can be achieved," warning that "every euro of advertising that would be shifted from [outdoor advertising] to other media as a result of the regulation would run counter to the objectives of the regulation."


The ordinance should reduce energy use by about 2%, according to the Economics Ministry. The FAW chief, however, claimed that because the energy consumption of billboards is a trade secret, it is impossible to determine the precise number.


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