A power of good? Smart energy technology explained

A power of good? Smart energy technology explained

Smart technology allows companies and households to use energy more efficiently, reducing the need to build more power stations, some of which burn polluting fossil fuels such as coal or gas.

Some of these technologies are more advanced than others but a few are on the verge of delivering real benefits to consumers and companies alike.

Demand-side response

This involves energy-intensive businesses such as factories or retailers shifting their energy use to times when demand on the grid is low, which also saves those businesses money.

Demand response specialist Open Energi counts Sainsbury’s among its clients. The supermarket chain’s fridges use a lot of energy to keep products cool in its warehouses and supermarkets but do not need to run 24 hours a day.

A chip installed in a fridge can assess when energy demand is high and arrange for the fridge to switch off during that period. This helps reduce overall capacity demand and is also useful for “frequency response”, when the grid needs to make second-by-second adjustments to keep the power network stable.

These devices can be connected across the country too, allowing the system to be managed at a national level.

Smart meters

Smart meters in the home will be capable of monitoring our energy usage in real time and the government aims to roll them out to all houses who want them by 2020.

Eventually this will allow power suppliers to offer a tariff that allows you to manage your energy usage to reduce bills. This could be done manually or automatically, with smart appliances deciding, for instance, to do the washing when power prices are low.

Battery storage

This technology is advancing rapidly and could transform energy use. At the moment, there are limited ways to store electricity when power generators are producing a surplus.

But battery technology means electricity could be siphoned into a battery and 80% of it, or even more, released when needed. This also makes wind and solar more efficient because they could store electricity for release when the weather conditions are unfavourable.

Source: The Guardian

Date: December 2016

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