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National Grid launches new grid carbon intensity monitoring tool

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National Grid has launched new software to forecast the carbon intensity of electricity generation two days ahead of time by using Met office data to predict how much renewable energy will be fed onto the grid.

The system operator is working with Environmental Defense Fund Europe and WWF to make the software openly available to the public, with the former working on the policy implications of having this data available and widely understood.

It is hoped the technology, known as an application programming interface (API data), will allow homes and businesses to become more involved in the selection and consumption of their energy while providing a further boost to UK renewables.

Duncan Burt, director of the system operator at National Grid, said: “We're providing our forecast data in a format that allows technology companies to build innovative apps and software that could make a real difference to how and when people use energy. Clear and concise information that can tell you in advance when’s best to turn on the washing machine, load the dishwasher or charge your car for example, is a step in the right direction towards a low carbon future.

“This technology puts people at the heart of it, helping everyone to use power when it’s greenest, and likely, more cost efficient”. 

According to National Grid, this will be the first time that carbon intensity data has been modelled to provide an accurate forecast for future carbon intensity.

Bryony Worthington, executive director at Environmental Defense Fund Europe, said: “This new forecasting tool empowers businesses and people with information they need to make cleaner energy choices.

“We are calling on those operating in the electricity market, including suppliers, manufacturers, aggregators, regulators and policymakers, to take advantage of this innovative, free-to-use tool to deliver smart, resilient infrastructure that cuts pollution, boosts renewables and unlocks costs savings for consumers.

“Pioneering practical tools that work for people, business and the environment here in the UK will serve as a model for other countries looking to meet bold climate and energy goals.”

The launch of the API data comes as National Grid revealed that the UK experienced the greenest summer on record after releasing figures showing that over half of the electricity generated over the period was from low carbon sources.

In a record breaking summer for UK renewables and solar in particular, almost 52% of generation from 21 June to 22 September can from these technologies compared to around 35% just four years previously.

National Grid’s figures cap a landmark year for solar in the UK with generation reaching new heights within the energy system. In May a record-breaking quarter of Great Britain’s energy demand was met by 8.7GW peak of solar power that was supplying electricity to the grid, while just days later renewable power met over 50% of the nation’s electricity supply.

Large amounts of solar along with wind and nuclear power later pushed Great Britain’s carbon intensity to record lows of around 90gCO₂/kWh.

 “It’s been an exciting year managing the many ‘network firsts’ - from a day where we operated the system with zero coal power, to one where over half of Great Britain’s energy demand was met by renewable generation - and we’re just as excited to see what developments come off the back of making this data available for all,” Burt added.

Energy minister Richard Harrington said: “With over half of Britain's electricity generated from low carbon sources, we've had a truly green summer and we welcome this innovative new software. It has great potential to give consumers more control and is another step towards an energy system that's fit for the future.”

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