PARIS – The most famous avenue in the world lights up for the holidays with energy coming entirely from the sun. The Champs-Elysées, known for its luminous makeover during the holiday season, now features solar powered lights to reduce environmentally unfriendly electricity consumption to zero during December’s festivities.
This past Wednesday, alongside the mayor, French actress Audrey Tatou helped to inaugurate the holiday season by switching on the avenue’s decorative lights. The Champs-Elysées, Paris’s famed shopping street, has always been a place to see and be seen. Between 500,000 and 600,000 people walk along the avenue during the holiday season to experience the large Christmas market lining both sides of the street.
This year, the lights shining along the broad sidewalks of the historical promenade will come directly from the sun.
Semiconductor agency Soitec has routed electricity from 26 trackers in the Pyrenees mountains in France directly to the Champs-Elysées. The solar panels are prepared to furnish the 31,000 KWh used by the lights this year from November 23 through January 11. This is the first time that the holiday lights will be entirely solar powered.
André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, Soitec’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said that Soitec is proud to be participating in the first ever “zero consumption” holiday lighting in Paris. “Our partnership fits perfectly with our commitment to sustainable development and our support for the French solar energy industry,” he said.
The city chose from among 27 projects for this year’s display. Companies ACT Lighting Design and ASP Blue Square have teamed up to redesign the decorations, adding rings around the 200 trees lining the avenue.
Eco-friendly LED lights are consuming 60% of the energy used in 2010 and a mere 7% of the energy consumed in 2006, showing greater strides towards greener practices. This year’s electricity is comparable to the energy used by eight families of four in a Parisian apartment. The decorations cost a total of one million euros, a fifth of which was paid for by the city and the rest by the Champs-Elysées partnerships.
Photo: Paris City Hall