Smart Grid Consultancy (SGC) have been working with Western Power Distribution (WPD) and The Carbon Trust. SGC have been leading a project to design and develop a new Mobile APP for for customers within their 4 franchise areas to help them understand where their electricity comes from and that not every kilowatt of electricity are the same. WPD is the company responsible for electricity distribution in the Midlands, South West and Wales and employs over 6,500 staff so that they can maintain the network that serves over 7.8 million customers.
The local generation which is attached to the Western Power Distribution network typically includes large solar PV installations, wind farms and various incineration generators some of which are renewable forms of energy (for example biomass), while others are not. There are many other generation types including less common forms such as tidal and wave power and even newer forms such as battery storage.
When local generation is insufficient to meet demand at any given time and location, the shortfall is made up by taking electricity from the National Grid. Changes to prevailing conditions and what people are doing throughout the day and throughout the year means that the demand for electricity from customers is constantly changing. The available generation also changes all the time so that the overall mix is in a constant state of change.
The purpose of the new 'Carbon Tracer App' that we launched this week is to give customers access to a tool that can help them understand what the predominant generation sources are and their carbon impact based on time and location on the WPD network. While it may not be possible for customers to move location to access cleaner energy, it is sometimes viable to choose the right time particularly for less urgent activities including EV charging or doing those chores such as laundry.
"The Carbon Tracer app displays information from the bulk supply point - the large distribution level electricity supply substation to which the app user is connected," explained WPD's Future Networks Manager, Roger Hey.
"There are two constantly changing pieces of information: the demand for power, which varies according to the time of day and what households are doing, and the mix of electricity that is being used to meet that demand."
Manu Ravishankar, Innovation Manager at the Carbon Trust heralded the app as a "step towards helping to deepen our understanding of what level of data consumers will be willing to engage with".
"As we move towards an energy system that is based on more flexible, low carbon energy, it is important to understand how consumers will interact with the rich stream of information that will be available," he added.
SGC were delighted to be involved in the project and working alongside Enigma Interactive who built the App that can now be downloaded from Google Play for Android and Apple App Store.