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My Fridge Has Brains

Posted in Ancillary services,Renewables,UK by Cheryl Morgan on the December 2nd, 2008

Today’s Guardian reports that in 2009 the UK will be invaded by robots intelligent fridges. Thankfully Doctor Who will not be required to repel the invasion, nor is this anything to do with reminding us when we have run out of ice cream and need to re-stock. It is all part of a plan to save the planet, and it doesn’t even require a smart grid.

The concept behind the trial is called dynamic demand, and it is a plan to save money on ancillary services by reducing the need for frequency balancing services by power stations. A small piece of electronics fitted to baseload devices such as refrigerators allows them to adjust how much power they draw in response to the inputs they are sensing. Details of how the system works can be found at this web site. A particular benefit of the scheme is that it will help combat the rise in ancillary service costs that is expected to result from the introduction of more intermittent supply sources such as wind and solar.

The company providing the technology is called RLtec. Their product was profiled in a recent issue of New Scientist (scan online here). It includes the claim that if all of the UK’s fridges were fitted with this technology it would shave 2 GW off peak demand. More information is available in a report by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). The Guardian article, which suggests possible savings of 2 million tonnes of CO2 and £222m, is in response to a new report by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which does not appear to have hit their web site yet.

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New CSEM Paper

Posted in Regulation,USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the December 1st, 2008

Here’s another new paper from the UCEI Berkeley Center for the Study of Energy Markets. This one is by Meredith Fowlie, Christopher R. Knittel and Catherine Wolfram and compares differences in pollution abatement policies between industry (e.g. generation) and individuals (e.g. cars). Here’s the abstract:

Sacred Cars? Optimal Regulation of Stationary and Non-stationary Pollution Sources

For political and practical reasons, environmental regulations sometimes treat point source polluters, such as power plants, differently from mobile source polluters, such as vehicles. This paper measures the extent of this regulatory asymmetry in the case of nitrogen oxides (NOx), the criteria air pollutant that has proven to be the most recalcitrant in the United States. We find significant differences in marginal abatement costs across source types with the marginal cost of reducing NOx from cars less than half of the marginal cost of reducing NOx from power plants. Our findings have important implications for the efficiency of NOx emissions reductions and, more broadly, the benefits from increasing the sectoral scope of environmental regulation. We estimate that the costs of achieving the desired emissions reductions could have been reduced by nearly $2 billion, or 9 percent of program costs, had marginal abatement costs been equated across source types.

The full paper is available here.

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Brief Linkage

Posted in Europe,Nuclear,UK by Cheryl Morgan on the December 1st, 2008

Here are a couple of follow-ups to stories that we have run here.

E.On is apparently now free of anti-trust worries in electricity as the European Commission has accepted its promise to divest itself of 5,000 MW of generating capacity. EurActive has details.

– While doom and gloom is all too common in business these days, some people still have confidence: Westinghouse has set up a UK company in expectation of a bonanza from new nuclear plant build in that country. The move may also be connected with concerns about the vulnerability of US-based companies to law suits arising from nuclear accidents, as explained by this Guardian article.

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