At this very moment, even the most-efficient appliances are sucking up energy indiscriminately from their local grid—clean, dirty, whatever’s on tap at the moment. Until recently, there’s been little choice in the matter. Now however, it’s possible to get choosy about how we power up the machines and devices we depend on, from electric vehicles to smart thermostats. And major utility providers are taking note.
Here at WattTime, we’ve been advancing a capability we call Automated Emissions Reduction (AER). It provides a software signal that allows smart energy-using devices, from EVs to thermostats, to sync with clean energy and avoid dirty energy. By operating with the intelligence of real-time marginal emissions data, our software tells devices if using power now (or later) will in-turn cause a high-emitting power plant to respond, or maybe zero-carbon wind or solar, and it automatically opts for those low or no-carbon moments. All this takes place with zero negative impact for the end user. The technology has increasingly been battled-tested and -proven.
Now, California utility PG&E has conducted a rigorous analysis of WattTime's AER software. The results? In short: AER works. The 50-plus-page assessment is no light read, but it indicates growing industry interest in effective new ways of meeting emissions-reduction targets and driving other strategic goals, like demand response programs and renewable integration.
Four device-level examples of AER in action To understand how AER supports broad utility strategy, it’s useful to consider first how AER works for the average device. PG&E’s analysis looked at four everyday appliances, in a laboratory setting, concluding that WattTime software effectively supports control of end-use energy consumption for each. By using AER technology to control their own versions of these appliances, people can…
The big picture: AER can help utilities achieve climate goals
Utilities working toward ambitious carbon emissions targets are increasingly seeing the broader benefits of adding AER to their toolbox.
For starters, AER aids renewable energy grid integration—and helps avert undesirable renewable energy curtailment—by using more surplus renewable energy. It does this not only by shifting flexible demand to windy and sunny times, but by especially targeting times when renewable energy is on the margin and at risk of being wasted.
AER also gets more out of demand response programs, especially when emissions rates and electricity prices are aligned. With AER, utilities can turn DR offerings into a year-round feature that truly appeal to customers. Our research shows AER boosts DR program enrollment and retention.
As California’s largest electric utility, PG&E’s report is another major affirmation that AER works not just for the individual devices people depend on everyday—but for the larger utilities that bring them to life, too. In a world of ever-more sophisticated demand response and renewable energy efforts, AER is proving a game-changing tool that grid operators can increasingly appreciate, and adopt.