Niagara College research powers real-time carbon data in mobile app

 

Niagara Research, Niagara College’s Research and Innovation division, has helped to power GridWatch: a mobile application that gives a transparent view of Ontario’s electricity grid.

College staff member Kurt Frommann was a research associate specializing in Ontario’s energy system at the College when he led the research on a collaborative project with e3 Solutions Inc. – a company that develops cloud carbon management software for its clients. He worked under faculty lead Evan DiValentino and faculty advisor Katie Altoft on a project funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Frommann and his team sought to improve the accuracy of carbon accounting in Ontario through the use of hourly emission factors for grid-purchased electricity consumption. This new, peer-reviewed method improves accuracy by 10-15%. The findings will be published this fall in the Transactions of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering (TCSME).

Frommann’s data was used to power the live carbon reporting in GridWatch, a mobile app that makes Ontario’s electricity grid visible. The app, developed by EnergyMobile Studios Inc, is designed to improve energy literacy among Ontario residents by teaching them about the electricity grid and providing an unbiased, transparent view of what it does. GridWatch has recently been featured in the Toronto Star, and has surpassed 1,100 downloads.  

“GridWatch is a great tool for engaging consumers, teaching them grid tendencies in an easy-to-understand way, and showing them the correlation carbon has with demand and price,” says Frommann. “Carbon can be used as an additional incentive for consumers to shift away from times of high demand. By teaching them this concept, they can better understand the implications of their choices.”

The app is available on the iTunes App Store for free. Visit gridwatch.ca for details.

Frommann also aims to catch the government’s eye and run a grid emissions program for Ontario that employs hourly carbon intensities in carbon footprinting. His emission calculation engine could be effectively used as a demand management tool. Frommann believes that it will be especially beneficial to businesses, which can further reap the rewards of conservation and shifted consumption by reporting a lower carbon footprint. The province as a whole would also benefit from this new demand management method.

“By encouraging less consumption during peak times, the province will have a more stable electricity grid and we can rely more on our cleaner sources of power generation,” said Frommann. “Everybody wins.”

 

Pictured below: Kurt Frommann

 

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