Adorned with a thousand lights, this is how the Avenue des Champs-Élysées presents itself to visitors since this Sunday, November 19 and until January 7, 2024. During this end-of-year holiday period, the one which is known for being “the most beautiful avenue in the world” will sparkle every day, from 5 p.m. to midnight. And exceptionally all evening, on the night of December 24 to 25 then that of December 31 to January 1. But there is no question, in this era of energy sobriety, of overdoing it or making it too costly in terms of electricity. Especially in a city like Paris, which aims to be exemplary in this area.
At the helm of this operation which attracts up to a million people each year on New Year's Eve, the Committee of the Champs-Élysées has for several years been determined to reduce its electricity consumption. And the results are there, since the energy consumption of the Champs-Élysées has fallen “by 43% between 2021 and 2023”, and “by 98% between 2006 and 2023”, welcomes the management of the committee. For this, she called on Blachere Illumination, a French company based in Vaucluse, responsible for imagining and designing the show called “Sobrilliance” which will be projected on the 400 trees of the avenue. Building on a partnership established in 2007 between the two entities, the energy consumption of the Champs-Élysées illuminations increased from 480,000 kWh in 2006 to 13,300 kWh in 2023. “That is to say a current consumption which represents only 2 % of that of 2006,” underlines the committee.
But how is it even possible to achieve the same visual result with 98% less electricity? For Julie Taton, the director of the Blachere Illumination brand, this result is due to two important changes in their working methods. On the one hand, the SME has “switched to LEDs for over 20 years, animated and controlled remotely” and on the other, it has imagined “scenarios” for its shows, in which the LEDs “are not lit 100 % time". “We thus further reduce the electrical power and therefore the electrical consumption of each tree. So since 2006, our electricity consumption has been very low,” explains the director. Furthermore, the show “is completely detached from public lighting”.
“In a way, the more economical our illuminations are, the more beautiful the show,” says Marc-Antoine Jamet. The president of the Champs-Élysées committee praises the principle of a “programmable device”, which “allows us to continue to offer Parisians real light creations and magical scenographies without electrical waste”. He explains that he is responding to “a double desire”: that of “maintaining a joyful tradition which is that of the festival of lights, of Christmas windows, of the passing of the year” and “at the same time”, that “of making so that the most beautiful avenue in the world proves energetically exemplary.
Knowing that in France, the average electricity consumption per month and per household is around 390 kWh, or 4679 kWh per year, the illuminations would be equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of three households. Questioned on this subject by Le Parisien in 2022, the co-director of Blachere Illumination Johan Hugues explains that the price of the installations will amount to “between 50 or 60 euros per day of electricity consumption for the 4 km of illuminations”, knowing that “the 2000 light points on each tree being the equivalent of a filament bulb of yesteryear. An estimate which could undoubtedly be revised upwards, due to the increase in the price of electricity, but which overall remains reasonable.
And evoking “a requirement which applies throughout the year”, the Champs-Élysées committee wishes to serve as an example to all the traders on the avenue who “have, themselves, reduced the lighting their windows by modernizing the tools or by reducing their duration. In addition, the committee ensures that it scrupulously applies “the charter of eco-responsible events issued by the City of Paris when we organize, thanks to monthly pedestrianization, other events such as the Grande Dictée des Champs-Élysées”.