Should raclette be banned to protect the climate?

Illustration: Energy Revolution, Getty/Canva.

Calculating the carbon intensity of electricity is Adrien de Vriendt’s specialty. A young entrepreneur created “Adapt”, an online tool to encourage the general public to consume electricity when it is “greenest”. He also had fun determining the climate impact of one of the French’s favorite dishes, raclette.

Is good old raclette as bad for the climate as it is for our veins? According to calculations “table corner” By Adrien de Vriendt, raclette is actually one of the dishes with the highest greenhouse gas emissions. With no intention of turning off the French’s favorite winter meal, an entrepreneur who launched a carbon-electric weather service has investigated its impact on the climate.

“A raclette is about 2.5 kg CO₂ per person” he says on his Twitter account, where he details his methodology. Contrary to what we might imagine, most of the emissions do not come from the electricity consumed by the raclette machine. Despite powering from 500 to 2,000 W for the largest, the machine’s power consumption will only account for 1% of greenhouse gas emissions when plugged into a single French outlet.

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If raclette cheese melts as quickly as an ice pack, it’s because of some of its ingredients. First, cheese made from cow’s milk “Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, explodes” Adrien de Vriendt explains. Although the pig is not a ruminant animal, ham is the second source of waste. Finally, wine packaged in heavy glass bottles seriously worsens its carbon footprint. Potatoes, pickles and salad have a slight effect.

No, depriving yourself of raclette won’t save the climate

Nothing surprising really. All meat and cheese products from ruminant animals are known to have high greenhouse gas emissions. Depriving yourself of raclette is out of the question, especially since its consumption is so rare. For Adrien de Vriendt, this little calculation is above all an opportunity to celebrate the electricity “carbon weather” service he created.

The tool called “Adapt” allows you to know the current’s carbon intensity in real time and several days in advance. Thought? Helping all consumers know when their electricity is ‘greenest’. Thus, they can choose the best cycle to run the energy-intensive device without using mining power plants (coal, gas, fuel oil).

If changing the start time of a raclette between friends won’t make a big difference, it won’t for the dryer, water heater or dishwasher. Running these higher-consuming appliances at the best times throughout the year can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Improve public understanding of energy

“I think there is a lack of support for individuals to better understand their energy consumption” Adrien de Vriendt says. “We understand that people who come to see us are at a loss, they want to know what they can gain with peak hour contracts – off-peak hours, if the electric car is a trap, how they can repair to consume less … » he grumbles.

On the Adaptation website, it shows the hourly carbon intensity of electricity by color code and a very simple expression. For the uninitiated here, no grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour (gCO2e/kWh) is possible. The tool calculates total electricity emissions based on life cycle analyzes of each sector (coal, gas, wind, solar, nuclear, etc.) published by the IPCC, reassuring the entrepreneur.

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A connected socket to control your devices

A young leader who writes “Fighting Climate Chaos” wants to go further by offering grid flexibility services in its company charter. For example, in a concept comparable to diffuse deletion, such as Voltalis boxes, it is one “connected socket” which can control a heater or a charging station for an electric car.

Thus, the latter can only be activated if electricity from the grid is low in greenhouse gas emissions. There would no longer be a need to check the meteo-carbon of electricity to manually activate this or that device at the right time. A project, however, slowed down in the current context.

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“Unfortunately, the supply market has become very difficult due to the occupation of Ukraine and the increase in the price of electricity. There is a cooling because there is a lot of uncertainty” Adrien de Vriendt explains. “Now is not the right time to sell our solutions” he regrets it.

Flexibility becomes a key issue in an electricity mix that integrates multiple variable renewables such as wind and solar. A number of systems will need to be developed to intelligently manage electricity demand. Adapt may be lucky to be one of those players.

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