Our friends at [AMEE](http://amee.com/ “”) and [Demand Logic](http://www.demandlogic.co.uk/ “”) have launched a cool new site which helps you to see how clean or dirty electricity is at different times of the day and night. Not all electricity is equal – old coal stations emit far more per unit of production than new cleaner gas stations and of course nuclear and renewables don’t emit anything at all. The mix of these technologies is constantly changing, [Realtime Carbon](http://realtimecarbon.org/ “”) takes information and turns it into a really easy to understand green/red light system to helping people to see that it is cleaner to use electricity at different times of the day.
The longer-term aim of the project though is not to just show people this information but to integrate it into business and building demand management systems and appliances. For example, in the home, the technology exists to set your washing machine up so it only switches on when the electricity being produced is relatively clean. For businesses, if they can coincide their demand with when the power is cleanest it could save them money since
climate change policies make it cheaper to produce cleaner energy.
As we get more renewables like wind on the system this ability to match our demand for power with times when it is readily available and clean will become more and more important. But in the shorter term if enough uses of electricity can be switched away from the periods of high demand when we have to turn on our dirtiest and least efficient power stations then we could in theory shut down these stations and save a lot of emissions.
Of course, because power sector emissions are capped under the EU emissions trading scheme, though this would save emissions in the UK it would actually just mean there were more pollution permits to go round and the overall level of pollution would not necessarily be affected. As more and more innovative ideas for saving emissions come forward, caps under the emissions trading scheme are at risk of becoming irrelevant – setting tougher caps and introducing regular reviews of allocations would stop this from happening. On Monday we’ll be releasing a report highlighting the extent to which this problem already exists, thanks to the recession and the sharp dropping off of demand for energy from industry. But more on that later.