The UK has just reached another green milestone after the National Grid officially confirmed that it has just had its “greenest” summer on record.
From 21 June to 22 September, almost 52% of electricity generation came from low carbon sources including wind, solar, hydroelectric and of course nuclear.
What makes the news even more impressive is that just four years ago that statistic would have been 35%.
Breaking those figures down, almost a quarter of electricity generation came solely from renewables, up from just 9% four years ago and 19.5% last year.
The average amount of carbon dioxide produced by each unit of power has also fallen by as much as 56% between the summers of 2013 and 2017.
In the summer of 2013, there were 491g of carbon dioxide pollution emitted for each kilowatt hour of electricity but the average figure for this summer was just 216g of carbon per kilowatt hour.
To help the public better understand how renewable energy is changing how we produce electricity the National Grid is launching an innovative new tool.
The software can reveal how much carbon emissions are being produced by each unit of power up to two days ahead.
National Grid is working with the Environmental Defense Fund Europe and WWF to make the software, which aims to help people better understand and control their energy use, openly available to the public.
WWF has used the data as the basis for an online tool which points users to the best times to turn on or off home appliances to minimise carbon emissions, while Environmental Defense Fund Europe is working on the policy implications of having the data available and widely understood.
Shifting activities such as when the dishwasher is put on or electric vehicles are charged could help relieve pressure on the energy system and reduce the need to use back-up fossil fuel plants, such as gas, to meet peak demand.
It could potentially reduce bills for households as well as cut emissions, National Grid said.
The software combines National Grid’s knowledge of the energy system with weather data from the Met Office to forecast the share of renewable and non-renewable energy on the grid over the next 48 hours and the resulting carbon emissions.
Duncan Burt, director of the system operator at National Grid, said technology companies could build apps from the information to 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.”
Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate and energy at WWF, said: “Green energy forecasting could be a game changer – making the connection between the weather and energy and helping people use electricity when it’s greenest.”
He called on the Government to bring in “time of use” tariffs quickly which will help people also save money on their bills by using power when demand and carbon emissions are lower.