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New application to measure the carbon intensity of the UK electricity grid

Published: 
7 January 2010

As temperatures drop below freezing and demand for energy soars, engineers at the University of Southampton have launched a new iPhone application to monitor the UK electricity grid.

Dr Alex Rogers, Dr Perukrishnen Vytelingum and Professor Nick Jennings, at the University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), have developed an application, named ‘GridCarbon’, which when downloaded to an iPhone, enables users to monitor the carbon intensity of the grid – the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere when one unit (1 kWh) of electricity is used by a consumer.

“The app shows people how using appliances and machinery at different times of the day can reduce their carbon footprint; for example, at some times of the year, running washing machines and dishwashers overnight rather than at peak times in the evening, can reduce carbon emissions by as much as 40 percent,” says Dr Rogers. “While developing this app, we were surprised at how much the carbon intensity of the grid varies at different times of the day, and between different days in the week,” he adds.

The application, which can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store by searching for ‘GridCarbon’, is just one initiative being developed by ECS academics as they develop a vision of the Smart Grid.

They are currently researching the use of computerised agents to operate smart electricity meters in support of the Government’s initiative to have smart meters in all homes by 2020, and are using a new building on the Southampton campus as a test bed.

Professor Jennings says: “We are developing agents that can ‘learn’ how much energy a building or home uses and which can then make predictions and decisions about cost-effective energy use. We have already proved that agents can be used to haggle and resolve conflict, trade on the stock market and cope with disasters; our next challenge is to incorporate them into smart electricity meters.”

 

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