Discussing Energy Economics on the Internet

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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