Online tool shows the greenest times to use electricity

New software from National Grid forecasts the carbon intensity of the UK’s electricity generation up to two days in advance, helping people to understand and control their energy use.

National Grid said last week that it is working with Environmental Defense Fund Europe and conservation group WWF to make the software openly available to the public.

WWF has used the data as the basis of a free-to-use online tool which shows users the best times to turn their home appliances on or off to minimise carbon emissions, while Environmental Defense Fund Europe is working on policy implications of having this data available and widely understood.

Making it easier for consumers to shift energy-intensive activities like dishwasher and tumble dryer cycles or electric vehicle charges, could help relieve pressure on the energy system, reduce the need to use back-up fossil fuel plants, and potentially reduce household electricity bills.

“We’re providing our forecast data in a format that allows technology companies to build innovative apps and software that could make a real difference to how and when people use energy” said Duncan Burt, Director of the System Operator at National Grid. “Clear and concise information that can tell you in advance when’s best to turn on the washing machine, load the dishwasher or charge your car for example, is a step in the right direction towards a low carbon future. This technology puts people at the heart of it, helping everyone to use power when it’s greenest, and likely, more cost efficient.”

The programming software combines National Grid’s expert knowledge of the UK energy system with weather data from the Met Office to forecast the share of renewable and non-renewable energy that will be on the UK electricity grid over the next 48 hours, and the resulting carbon emissions.

However, the data can only do so much on its own, and WWF wants to see the rollout of tiered pricing for energy depending on the time of day to encourage consumers to change their habits.

Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Climate & Energy at WWF, said: “Green energy forecasting could be a game changer — making the connection between the weather and energy and helping people use electricity when it’s greenest. This is not just good news for reducing the effects of climate change but could also help us cut our home energy bills and it’s vital the UK Government bring in ‘time of use’ tariffs quickly to maximise these opportunities.”

Bryony Worthington, Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund Europe, called on electricity suppliers, aggregators and regulators to take advantage of the forecasting tool to deliver “smart, resilient infrastructure that cuts pollution, boosts renewables and unlocks costs savings for consumers.”

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