Image via AMEE
We know the fossil fueled power plants are big polluters. And we know putting renewable energy into the mix helps in cutting down carbon emissions. But when you can't really see the difference it's making, it's tougher to convince people that buying green power is a big part of cutting carbon footprints and getting all of us off dirty power. That is about to change thanks to a newly launched website that shows carbon pollution from power plants in real time - at least for the UK citizens who are busy absorbing the new emissions cut-back goals announced this week.RealtimeCarbon.org shows exactly how polluting UK electricity is at any point in time, giving consumers - from homeowners to businesses - the ability to avoid or reduce power use during the times when power is at its dirtiest.
Seeing the Pollution, Not Just the Price Tag
Usually, we talk about wanting the ability to see real time power use and generation information in order to be more efficient, with cost as a primary driver and emissions savings often taking a backseat in the discussion. But this tool puts the reality check behind the need to see real time statistics. Being able to see the grid functioning is more than just about avoiding brown-outs and cutting costs - it's about cutting carbon emissions. RealtimeCarbon.org - a collaboration of Demand Logic, DynamicDemand and AMEE - hopes to make that clear and, through visualization of pollution, encourage people to green their power by avoiding using energy during times when the dirtiest power is generated.
How the Carbon Emission Data is Gathered
The data comes directly from the computer systems that manage the UK's electricity trading market, which shows how much electricity each type of power generator - from coal to wind - are currently producing during any 5-minute interval. AMEE, the carbon and energy data tracking platform we've highlighted before, is powering the data aggregation so that as data comes in from the market, it is calculated into a real time emissions per kilowatt hour for consumers.
Image via AMEE
Making Carbon Calculators Matter
In addition to showing direct environmental impacts of power generation - which alone is a really big deal in helping us make the mental shift away from carbon intensive energy sources - the project is helping get another important conversation going. This kind of transparent access to reliable emissions data is relatively new, and the complexities in calculating carbon footprints accurately are vast. The Realtime Carbon project wants to acknowledge this and improve current methodologies that make information like this trustworthy and useful.
While we might feel we have carbon footprint calculators coming out our ears (to the point that we wondered about their carbon footprint), when the information is coming from a neutral platform and the methodologies for calculation are transparent, the numbers have new meaning and hopefully new impact. For instance, in addition to the CNN's airline carbon footprint calculator, AMEE has just launched a carbon footprint calculator for music festivals in conjunction with Julie’s Bicycle. The possibilities of how to use the data for awareness and activism are infinite, but it takes quality calculations to make the information worthwhile at all.
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