Friday, 15 November 2019


Personal Annual Carbon Allowance

At RenSMART, we have been working to offer a set of applications to enable individuals or households to calculate, track and reduce their carbon footprint, but this is not much use if you do not know what your carbon footprint, ideally, should be.

As part of this process, we have developed the concept of a personal carbon allowance. An annual carbon allowance based on traceable scientific sources.

A personal annual carbon allowance (PACA) is the amount of carbon dioxide or equivalent gasses (CO2e) a person should aim to reduce themselves to generating in a given year.

In the case of a RenSMART PACA, we propose a voluntary allowance that people sign up to and track.
There are four steps to realising this:
  1. Calculating a baseline level. The amount you generate now.
  2. Calculating the maximum you could generate to stay within a target. We are aiming at maximum 1.5C rise in temperature by 2030.
  3. Finding changes in behaviour that would meet that target.
  4. Measuring the CO2 generated or mitigated to show whether you are on target.

Old idea, new format.

Personal carbon allowances are not a new idea. They have been floated many times before, but have not been implemented. The reasons are no doubt many, complex and varied [2].

One implementation suggestion from 2013 [1] was to take all of the CO2 generated in the UK and share it out with children taking half of an adult share. The calculations showed that sharing the CO2 emissions, generated at that time by the UK, would set each adults allowance at  4336 kgCO2 / year and each child's to 2168 kgCO2 / year. The suggestion was that the allowance would be reduced each year to meet an agreed target, with those over producing paying to offset and those under producing getting a payment.

We have chosen to go with the simplest methodology we can for calculating a PACA. Take the target global carbon emissions to attain the goal of keeping the global temperature at a safe level. Divide this by the number of humans on the planet.

Calculation of the PACA

  • 2020 target = 38.4 GtCO2e / year
  • 2020 World Population estimate 7.87 billion
  • Suggested PACA for 2020 38.4 billion / 8.87 billion = 4.892 t = 4892 kg CO2 per year = 1 PACA
You will find our sources and calculations on the PACA page.

Nudge psychology

Rather than an enforced PACA that has been suggested in the past, we would like to introduce a PACA that people can sign up to. Rather that wave a statutory stick, threatening taxation on using more than your allowance, we would like to offer a voluntary nudge.

As an example of an energy saving nudge, we have created a service called economyGREEN. It provides a 24 hour renewable energy forecast and a companion app provides advice on when to use your washing machine etc. when renewable energy generation is at its highest. You can find further details on the economyGREEN web page.

Calculating a Base Level

We intend to take the best methodologies and calculations available to calculate an individuals current CO2e footprint. We will make the methodology publicly available for scrutiny and reuse, with an agile update process taken from the software industry to constantly improve its accuracy.
This we intend to develop as an open source project, freely available for anyone to use and include in their own projects.

Making Changes

We will make a set of tools available to individuals and organisations. We will offer applications to help people to keep track of their progress towards the goals they have chosen.
Our first, very modest tool, is called economyGREEN [5] and helps people to use electricity when its carbon intensity is at its lowest (when the largest amount of it is from renewable sources)

Keeping Score

RenSMART will offer an online service to keep track, like a fitness tracker but for carbon emissions.
Again, we propose to make this software open source. Free for anyone to use or contribute to.

Changing the PACA

Our methodology will be evidence based and list the sources used. We will openly discuss the decisions made, justify them and where improvements are found, apply them.
We will update the suggested PACA every six months to keep to a target CO2 level and maximum temperature rise.





[4] :-)


Tuesday, 12 November 2019

economyGREEN app demo available

We now have a demo version of the economyGREEN web app available for you to try. Click on the image to load it in your browser. It is restricted to only one model of washing machine and only has a small selection of devices.

Alternatively use this QR code to open it on your phone:

If you like it, please pledge your support through our Kickstarter page and tell your friends and family. We don't have long until the Kickstarter campaign ends.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

And I could drive 12,000 more

Just a quick update on my electric car.
My 12,000 mile service for my Nissan Leaf has arrived.
Since getting it in February, the only problem I have had was a puncture. It is a dream to drive.
The service cost about £160 and was completed in half a day. Nissan gave it a clean and sent me a video of the service inspection.
My electricity bill has gone up a lot, but is a big saving on my old deisel bill and carbon footprint.
One other change I have made is working from home a couple of days a week. A small change that will make a big impact on my carbon footprint.

The EconomyGREEN Tag

Having developed the economyGREEN 24 hour clock, I wanted to develop a simpler way to make use of the information it provides.
I felt that if I made the information available in as simple a form as possible and available at the time when I need it, I would be able to act on it more easily and would therefore be more likely to use it in my daily life.

The economyGREEN clock gives you a 24 hour forecast of carbon intensity of electricity throughout the current day. If at 10am you plan to put on a washing load and 20% of the UKs electricity is from renewable generation, but at 11am that will rise to 30%, running your washing at 11am will be the greener choice.
Most washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers have an option to delay starting for a period of time. If I looked at the economyGREEN clock before I set off a washing load and set it to start when the UK grid electricity is at its greenest, I could reduce my carbon footprint.
 However, opening the economyGREEN clock web page every time I want to do some washing, use the tumble dryer or set off the dishwasher and find the greenest time to run the load is not something I am going to sustainably add to my daily routines.

Thinking about this problem reminded me of nudge psychology. The idea that you add small queues at the place where you take an action can nudge you to make a better one. To implement this, I would need to display the best time to run a washing load on the washing machine, tumble drier or dishwasher. That would be expensive and, with all the technology required, not very green.
Then I thought, how about using people's phones. Most of us carry them around with us at all times, and here is a ready made screen that could display the greenest delay time.
I experimented with bar codes, location tracking and QR codes, but the process it required me to follow was far too complicated for me to use regularly.
Then I rememberd some work I had done with NFC tags. These are small tags that you can tap your phone on and will then transfer some data that they hold to your phone. One thing they can transfer is a link to a web page.
Using a programmable NFC tag, I created a link to my web site that contains a unique identifier. 
I have created a web app that can link the identifier to your make and model of device.
When you receive a tag, you stick it on, or near your device. Tap your phone on it for the first time, and you are prompted to select your appliances make and model. You tag is now ready.
The next time you tap your phone on the tag, the device name and model is displayed, and the delay reqired for the greenest electricity given.
Using the economyGREEN forecast, information about your device make and model and the washing program you intend to run, the web app calculates the delay needed to run your load at the greenest time.

Now I want to make these tags and devices available to anyone else who wants to use economyGREEN.

I have started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of 1000 tags. This requires several thousand pounds in funding, but reduces the cost of the programmed tags to a reasonable amount.

Our Kickstarter page

In the future, I would like to expand economyGREEN to include other countries and to support more devices and get it included as an automated option in smart appliances.

Please do follow my progress in Kickstarter and maybe buy a few tags to try. (For yourself, friends and family)

Friday, 16 August 2019


For some time I have been investigating the idea that we could decrease the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere due to electricity generation by changing the time we use electricity.
To make this possible, we would need a forecast of our electricity's carbon intensity* throughout the day.

With this information, we could decide to change our behaviour and run washing machines, tumble driers or storage heaters when the carbon intensity is at its lowest.

The name economyGREEN is inspired by economy7. It was introduced in the late 70s to incentivize people to use off peak electricity (during the night). economyGREEN does not offer a monetary incentive, but does enable you to use as green electricity as is possible from the UK grid.

My first step was to find a source of forecast information and after some searching, I found that a forecast of generation required, solar generation and wind generation is produced by the Balancing Mechanism Reporting Service (BMRS) RenSMART now provides a view of this forecast we also have a live view of current carbon emissions from electricity generation

The second step was to make this information easy to act on. To achieve this I have designed a 24 hour clock web app that gives a days forecast view.

Please take a look and feel free to offer constructive feedback. The idea it that you can scan around the clock and choose a time when the most of your electricity is from renewable sources. Then you can choose to run washing loads, dry clothes or switch on a slow cooker at that time.

Future enhancements that are underway are to add an automation element that will integrate with smart sockets, appliances and electric cars so the technology can take the action for you.

Another element that is nearly ready for publication, is a personal forecast for those with micro solar or wind installations. We have been trialling it for a year with good results.

* Carbon Intensity - The amount of CO2 and other green house gasses released per unit of electricity often given and grams per kilowatt hour g/kWh

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Daily Renewable Forecast

We have a released a new data page, The UK Generation Forecast. The page combines data from several sources to give a forecast of how much of the UK's electricity will be produced from wind and solar during the current day.
Using this data, it will be possible to choose the best time during the day to perform tasks like running the washing machine or tumble drier while producing the minimum CO2 emissions.

By choosing the time with the maximum percentage renewable generation, your action will have the lowest carbon intensity.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Live UK Carbon intensity

We have just published a new service from RenSMART. You can now see a live * estimate of the carbon intensity of UK electricity generation.

* Data  is delayed by 30 minutes.