UK Grid Emissions Displayed Online in Real Time

Carbon content of the UK grid image

Image credit: Ecotricity

UPDATE: Ecotricity aren't the only ones providing real time emissions data - check out Jaymi's post on RealTimeCarbon for more minute-by-minute pollution data.

Carbon counter shows when fossil fuels are at peak
My my, the folks at Ecotricity have been busy. From fighting French power giant EDF over a green Union Jack, to erecting stunning urban wind turbines, to building a custom electric sports car, you certainly couldn't accuse Dale Vince and co of sitting around and twiddling their thumbs. Their latest effort is a live, online display of exactly how much carbon is being emitted by the UK grid, and from what sources. It's a fascinating illustration of just how far we have to go to green our power supply, but beyond education and protest, does it have any utility?The idea behind the online carbon intensity counter is not ust to draw attention to how much electricity comes from fossil fuels - it's also a way to educate folks about the fact that it's not just how much electricity you use that counts, but when you use it. The counter will show how the portion of energy from different sources changes as supply is tweaked to meet demand - and an easy to understand traffic light (that's a traffic signal for all you American readers) gives an indication of whether now is a good time to plug in, or whether you are better off waiting.

Of course it is hardly the smart grid we've all been waiting for, where appliances will themselves regulate when and how much power they draw. But it is an interesting educational tool. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Ecotricity claims that it also makes the case for their particular model of green power supply - arguing that it is less important to buy power from existing renewables than it is to invest revenue in building new sources:

And ... And ... It goes further to debunk the myth of 100% green tariffs. That in buying one you’re somehow exempt from any responsibility. Of course it matters who you’re signed up to. The biggest difference you can make is to be signed up with people who actively invest in new build – so we can change that figure at the bottom, the % of renewables.

Whatever else, it makes for fascinating watching as the numbers go up and down in real time - at least if you're a bit of a geek like me...

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