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What proportion of retail electricity consumption is really "re-scheduable" and how can this be increased.  Electrical cars recharging at night and storage heaters seem to me to be almost the only non-trivial applications. Fridges don't use much extra power to freeze a few ice-cubes and the extra cost of the smart appliance - unless such features are mandated for all new appliances - would strongly disincentivise significant take-up.

Presumably some industrial processes can be rescheduled for off-peak times but what we probably really need is the mass production of ammonia based electricity storage devices to act a bit like a water header tank in the attic - a small local store of power for most domestic devices.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 06:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean, like air conditioners that freeze water into ice overnight and then use that as the heat pump sink during the day to shift AC demand from peak to off-peak.

Of course, you pluck the lowest hanging fruit first ~ first you convert from stand up to drawer freezer/fridge. Once you have that, though, time-shifting operation ~ taking it to a lower temperature at off-peak than on-peak periods, doing ice cube making off peak, etc ~ that's the obvious next step.

As far as cost, its already controlled by an electronic controller, powered from the mains power ~ taking the signal off the mains power and feeding it as data into the control board might add a few Euro to the cost, but its mostly programming.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 07:35:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This leads into a gripe of mine about recycling and energy efficiency. Right now it is mostly placed upon the consumer - at least on this side of the pond. There is a real limit to what can be done at that level. At a certain point it starts to cost real money and a fair amount of time for ever decreasing gains. Far more can be accomplished for a much lower cost by looking at the manufacturing sector and demanding that they start producing appliances/packaging that work with recycling and energy efficiency.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 12:02:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mining consumer product energy inefficiency is always an up-front strategy that has to be combined with a long term strategy to build up sustainable power generation and reconfiguration of the big consuming technologies ~ since with each efficiency gain, the mining the remaining inefficiency tends to be harder with less result.

The shift from upright to drawer refrigerator/freezers is a fundamental energy efficiency issue: upright refrigerators are just fundamentally less efficient than drawer refrigerators, because the drawer retains cool air when the upright looses it.

However, the smart grid applications cited are not about energy efficiency directly as much as they are about making use of volatile power as it becomes available ~ of shifting consumption to match harvest.

In the US, the scope for consumer side energy efficiency gains is still tremendous, and in New York State they are getting a serious start on it with establishing finance paid through the utility bill based on financial savings from lower operating costs. Given our thoroughly corrupt political system, having that financial support in place is part of the political pre-requisite for gaining producer side regulation, since the greater the prospect of a market side win as a result of complying, the more likely the regulation is to get put into place.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 01:11:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Central air conditioning and refrigerators combined account for 28% of US household electricity consumption.

AC is obviously a main driver of peak demands, and why the US summer peaks are higher than the winter peaks. Refrigeration is not as peaky, but is primarily focused on the hours of the day that the door is being opened and closed ~ and as a heat source inside the house, increases the load on AC.

Energy efficiency might cut 8 percentage points out of that. If half of the balance can be shifted from on-demand to on-supply-available, shifting 10% of average demand into, say, 8 off-peak hours could easily represent a doubling of off-peak demand.

In both of those cases, there are substantial efficiency untapped gains available right now if there was Connie Mae style financing available with payments made as part of utility bills, and the first step is to reduce the size of the peak by reducing wasted energy during the peak. But for the refrigeration case especially, its the energy efficiency that requires an overhaul in what people expect to see when they buy a refrigerator ~ given a switch from intrinsically inefficient uprights to intrinsically efficient drawer refrigerators, the switch to the smart grid shifting of refrigerating load to periods when power is being offered cheap is so inexpensive to add that you'd not notice it.

Of course, you have to have the smart grid available to pick all the low hanging fruit that may be there to pick once the smart grid is in place.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 01:37:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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