Adblock Bristol have been researching the energy waste associated with digital advertising developments.
digital Bus stop “6 sheet” adverts
After an application to install a double-sided digital advert screen in Central Bristol, we discovered that the unit would use more electricity to power for a full year than 4 homes! Not only is this development going ahead, but there are also many more similar installations around the city.
According to the technical specification submitted as part of the planning application, the maximum consumption of this double-sided unit uses up to 1920W of electricity, or 16,819 kWh for a full year of operation. Digital advertising screens are illuminated year-round and through the night.
We’ve gathered information about the average electricity consumption of UK homes from these articles by Ovo, British Gas and UK Power. For our calculations, we have used the highest figure which is from Ovo, and estimates an average UK household electricity consumption of 3760 kWh per year.
Based on these figures, we can see that the electricity used by just one double-sided bus stop advert unit – to push unnecessary sales of items like junk food, fizzy drinks, new cars, fast fashion and the latest consumer craze – is more than 4 times that needed to power the average household.
The following information was gathered from a recent application to install a 6.4 m x 3.1 m digital billboard in South Bristol, with an advertising screen of nearly 20 square metres.
JC Decaux applied for permission to install this Daktronics unit. Below is a snapshot of the technical specification submitted, which details the power requirements of the unit as being between 4752 – 15840 W.
Therefore, a year of operation at the typical level would use 41,000 kWh of electricity: more than 11 UK households. The maximum potential electricity wasted by this development – if it was running for a full year at maximum output – would be 138,758 kWh… more than enough to power 36 homes!
These outrageous figures do not even start to consider the energy requirements of constructing or installing the display units, or the carbon footprint of the items they try to sell. Despite this, applications often disingenuously suggest that digital billboards are better for the environment than static ones, because they reduce the need to print posters.
Not only are digital adverts bad for our mental health, our local economy, and our physical wellbeing, they are disastrous for our environment; both due to their perpetuation of the drive to consume needlessly, and the damage that entails, and the tremendous amount of electricity they waste.
Lack of clarity around electricity consumption of digital advertising screens is an ongoing challenge to our efforts to understand the environmental implications of these developments. Not all applications contain details of electricity consumption, and details are hard to find. If you have information about the power usage of digital advert screens, please get in touch via email@example.com.