Zero Carbon Britain and OpenEnergyMonitor are collaborating on a new open source energy model http://zerocarbonbritain.org/energy_model/ aimed at helping users explore and visualise how a zero carbon energy system could work. The model shows hour-by-hour how energy supply and energy demand match up, the back-up power required, and how energy storage can help to balance supply and demand. The model also allows users to explore how much biomass is required for back-up power and other fuels and to see if their choices add up to a zero carbon energy system.
Philip James of the Zero Carbon Britain team is collaborating on the model with Trystan Lea of OpenEnergyMonitor. The model fits in with OpenEnergyMonitor’s work developing open source tools that allow users to monitor, evaluate and understand their own energy use. Their intention is to try and relate in house monitoring of electricity consumption, such as heatpump performance and electric car charging, with information about renewable supply both onsite and from the grid. This could help answer questions such as: how much of my heatpump’s electricity is likely to be coming from wind farms in the UK? How much would be coming from wind farms in the future? And if there was significant storage on the grid when would that electricity be coming directly and when would it be coming via a store. OpenEnergyMonitor are also exploring the potential for automatic control of these larger energy uses depending on renewable supply availability.
One study they have undertaken already explores and visualises the changes needed to get around 20 actual households in North Wales from their current energy use and carbon emissions to zero carbon http://egni.ecobro.org/data . With an hourly zero carbon energy system model, this kind of community energy planning exercise can take into account the variability of renewable energy supply and energy storage considerations in addition to the ‘power down’ demand side solutions.
These tools aim to help make it easier to join the dots between individual action and understand what’s needed at the community, regional and country-wide scale to get to zero carbon.
As with ZCB and OpenEnergyMonitor‘s other work, the tool is freely available and open source. We’d really like those who are interested to get involved, either by giving feedback and suggestions for the tool’s development or for other work in this area. Those who are really keen can download the computer code and contributing to the development directly https://github.com/philJam/energymodel .