By Andy Stanford-Clark
Over the past few weeks I have blogged about the measures I have taken in my home and in my local village of Chale to reduce energy consumption. In this final post, I will show how we are applying the successes in Chale and starting to roll out a smarter energy strategy on a much larger scale – across the Isle of Wight, a project called “Ecoisland.”
As I mentioned in Part I and Part II of my video diary blogs – the Ecoisland initiative is an ambitious transformation program which aims to turn the Isle of Wight into the ultimate eco-region, with a dramatically reduced carbon footprint, by 2020.
So what does this initiative mean for people, like me, who live on the Island?
Ecoisland is implementing a whole range of energy saving ideas, and is starting by addressing those households most affected by fuel poverty. These houses will be provided with the energy-saving technologies used in the village of Chale – solar PV panels, double glazed windows, loft insulation and air-source heat pumps to reduce their energy bills. Ecoisland is now looking to use these technologies to improve the fabric of up to 10,000 houses across the island.
Going beyond the home, residents of the Isle of Wight are also being encouraged to reduce the impact of their travel by getting behind the wheel of electric vehicles. The shape and size of the island lends itself very well to this form of smarter transportation, as drivers can never be more than 24 miles (39km) from their home – making it easier to recharge their vehicle when the battery runs low. Electric bikes are also being introduced around the island to reduce the number of cars.
So how does technology factor in all of this? The Ecoisland project will use automation and monitoring technology similar to that used in my home, to create a smart grid blueprint for the Isle of Wight. IBM Smarter Planet messaging technology, MQTT, along with data analytics, will be used to collect, aggregate and analyze data from sensors and energy meters, from houses and from energy sources across the island.
This data will eventually allow Ecoisland to better monitor and manage energy usage across as many of the 30,000 homes on the island that wish to participate. For example, household appliances will be remotely controlled and turned off (with residents’ permission, of course!) to remove load from the power grid at peak times. What this means in reality for residents is that their lights might dim briefly by 10 percent; or the fridge might go off for a couple of minutes (without causing a noticeable change in temperature); or their electric vehicle may not charge when it’s first plugged-in, but will charge later in the night when the power grid is less stressed. These changes will reduce energy consumption for residents without inconveniencing the household.
The next step for Ecoisland will be to pilot the IBM Intelligent Operations Centre (IOC), which will help the Isle of Wight integrate its energy saving operations through one central data hub and visual dashboard. By enabling the integration of data, analytics, and actions across the island, the IOC will aggregate data from many sources including electricity, gas and water suppliers, energy consumption of individual houses, and transport networks into a central integrated display.
Using analytics, the dashboard will show actual measurements against ecological targets and enable decision-making based on insights into how the island would react to a given situation, such as an impending black-out. To keep islanders informed of progress towards sustainability goals, the data will be displayed at key landmarks around the island, including ferry terminals, for example, which many islanders see every day.
In recent years, our challenges have become clear: a growing need for affordable and reliable delivery of energy; the increasing cost and diminishing supply of fossil fuels; and the potential impacts of climate change on future generations. My vision for the future is that we will be able to replicate the technology and systems used on the Isle of Wight to help other regions of the UK– and the world – become eco-regions. I believe Ecoisland is just the first step towards building a sustainable planet.
This concludes my three-part Ecoisland video diary series, but you can join me today (31st October 2012) at 12pm ET (4pm UK Time) to chat with me online to gain further insight into Ecoisland, the Village of Chale and my “House that Twitters.” http://bit.ly/TEi8sy