First open, real-time grid-emissions monitoring system

[Official Press Release: AMEE PR 20091717]

RealtimeCarbon.org enables individuals and businesses to see the real-time carbon intensity of UK grid electricity.

Powered by AMEE, RealtimeCarbon.org calculates the carbon intensity of the grid every five minutes according to the fuel mix on the grid at any one time: when lots of coal is being used to generate electricity, the figure will be higher than the average, and when there are more renewables being used it will be lower. In general the times of high demand – and high carbon – are in the mornings and evenings, when people get up or get back from work, and millions of kettles are simultaneously boiled.

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AMEE also includes Government-approved coefficients for the carbon intensity of the UK electricity grid and 150 countries and regiouns around the world – but these only change once a year. This is fine for a broad understanding of emissions from electricity use, but as carbon footprinting becomes more sophisticated, and legislation is brought in to reward those companies reducing their footprints, a more detailed picture is necessary.

As well as humans being able to respond to the carbon intensity of the grid to change their behaviour accordingly (for example by turning the washing machine on at night when there is less strain on the grid), increasingly software and hardware can be configured to automate demand response according to the carbon intensity of electricity. The classic example is a fridge which turns off for short periods when electricity is high carbon, but in the era of cloud-computing, an even more apt example may be an server which uses the web-feed to run certain non-time-critical processes when electricity is low carbon.

If Government policies such as the Carbon Reduction Committment were designed around a dynamic carbon electricity factor then companies who are subject to it could be rewarded for undertaking innovative actions in their own businesses. This project brings with it a recognition that not only is the amount of electricity used which is important, but when it is used.

As with all models in AMEE, the RealtimeCarbon.org methodology is published on its open wiki , and technical details of how the feed works with example code can be found in its technical documentation and on the RealtimeCarbon.org site itself.

AMEE has teamed up with Demand Logic, a company specialising in innovative demand response technologies, and Dynamic Demand, an organisation which lobbies for the uptake of demand response principles. As strong advocates of smart grid and demand response principles (or ‘Electricity 2.0′ as explained by Tom Raftery), RealtimeCarbon.org is a bold step in that direction.

Please make use of the feed and join the debate on the methodology on the AMEE wiki or on related topics on the RealtimeCarbon.org forums.

THE PROJECT TEAM

Dynamic Demand is a not-for-profit organisation that has championed the idea of demand response in
the UK. It aims to reduce carbon emissions and help prepare the grid for the changing nature of generation towards renewables. It’s campaigns have resulted in cross-party political, Governmental and industry support The transition to a low-carbon economy requires action from everyone from business and governments to individuals. To enable this, AMEE is lowering the barriers-to-engagement for everyone.

AMEE’s aim is to map, measure and track all the energy and carbon data on Earth: the AMEE Platform helps track any activity or consumption data, including fuel, water, waste and other factors and convert them into carbon/GHG figures. Its web-services combines measurement, calculation, modelling, profiling and transactional services to power branded applications.Business, Consumer and Government applications are “Powered by AMEE” to ensure compliance with authoritative international standards.

Demand Logic brings the benefits of demand response to UK companies. Demand response is the term given to orchestrating demand for electricity in response to signals. An example would be real time price signals from utility companies. It can also include signals regarding the balance between supply and demand on the grid. Now the signals include the CO2 resulting from generation of electricity. Demand Logic will enable commercial buildings to reduce demand not only to when there is too little supply available, but also to time consumption with periods of lower CO2 arising.

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