We all know that we should shift towards a society of decreasing carbon dioxide emissions. By far the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is found in the power generation sector. The industry has historically been based on fossil fuels (coal, lignite, oil and natural gas) that offer many short-term benefits such as a high energy density, good predictability and controllability.
The goal of the project
The goal is to use the given resources more efficiently in order to integrate renewable energy without increasing the cost for us as individuals. If we want to facilitate a renewable driven power system, the primary goal must be to synchronize generation and consumption at all times.
How can we as individuals support this goal?
There are several household appliances that consume a significant amount of energy, and that can be shifted to different times without impacting our comfort. Examples are dishwashers, laundry machines, tumble dryers, electric heating or heat pumps and in the future, electric vehicles. Several suppliers are already today labelling these devices with “Smart Grid ready”. That means that when the market will be in place, these devices are able to exploit their inherent flexibility and shift consumption to a more favorable time in order to promote renewable energy integration.
How would this work in practice?
Let us suppose you are leaving for work in the morning, around 8.00 h and get back home around 17.00 h. After breakfast, you fill the dishwasher and set it up to run. Instead of starting immediately, the dishwasher would decide by itself when it is most favorable to run, given that it needs to be finished by 17.00 h. This simple change would not impact our personal comfort, and yet have a major impact on power system operation when accumulating all available devices.
There are further appliances that offer even more potential than dishwashers: Residential electric heating alone can be changed by 7.4 GW, which amounts to roughly one third of the total Swedish power consumption.
In order to reach the point where we, as individuals, can contribute to balancing to renewable power system, and help mitigate carbon dioxide emission, we need to have a functioning market. This market is being shaped right now and we need more information about flexibility so that this market can operate optimally, like e.g.:
- How much consumption can you shift to a later or earlier time?
- How much financial compensation do you need to shift your consumption? Is this different for night and daytime? (time dependent elasticity)
- When do you want your dishwasher, laundry machine, dryer, etc. to be finished?
- If you don’t know, then: When will you know when you will need it?
- When will you use your electric vehicle next?
- What is your temperature comfort zone at home?