Data has been transmitted across a national electricity grid for the first time, in what could be a significant step towards the creation of virtual power stations, where many thousands of homes and businesses combine to manage electricity use more smartly. The new technology could lead to lower energy bills for consumers who allow small variations in the energy consumption of their appliances, such as water heaters or freezers. The flexibility provided by thousands of appliances combined could reduce peaks in energy use and remove the need for some large new gas or nuclear power stations or polluting diesel generator farms that are started up in times of short supply. The new data system, created using telecoms technology by Reactive Technologies (RT) and now successfully tested on the UK’s National Grid, could also allow the optimum use of intermittent renewable energy, an important feature given the fast-rising proportion of green energy on the grid. Unlike the smart meters being rolled out by the UK government, the new system is anonymous, with no data on household energy use being collected and therefore avoiding concerns about privacy. Catherine Mitchell, professor of energy policy at the University of Exeter, said: “This is a really important next step technologically.” She said it would allow customers to choose which appliances are used to manage demand. “This implies that more people would be content to join [such] programmes – a very good thing.” But she said government policy had to keep up with the energy revolution by providing a transparent way to pay consumers for the service they provide.
Guardian 11th Oct 2016 read more »