Quantcast
Business

5 Apps Revolutionizing How We Use Energy

Energy consumer technology is going through something of a revolution.

Firstly, it is becoming much easier to save energy—and therefore money—by using "smart" technology to switch off at peak times and switch on when power is cheap.

Energy consumer technology is going through something of a revolution. Photo credit: Pixabay

At the same time rooftop solar panels are becoming both more affordable and efficient, enabling customers to generate far more renewable energy than they need.

As a result home energy storage too is becoming increasingly available—with more companies joining Tesla in producing boiler-sized lithium-ion batteries to keep in their garages.

All of this can make traditional energy consumers savers and producers of energy—that they can sell back to the grid or even on to others who may be more in need of it at the time.

Now, obviously, like the BBC, we don’t endorse any one app or piece of kit. Other app providers exist and they could well be better.

But for illustrative purposes here are five pieces of software—web applications or “apps”—creating a new generation of energy users and producers who have, on occasion, been given the truly horrible name of “prosumers.”

1. Ohmconnect: Switch Off a Few Hours a Week, Get Sent a Check

Ohmconnect is an energy app start-up in California that helps customers save energy and earn money doing it.

It’s designed for people getting energy from the grid and it works like this: You earn money by powering down gadgets in your home for about 30 minutes following a notification from the app. This can actually be as easy as turning off a few light switches.

If you have smart gadgets—like Nest thermostats or a Tesla Model S sitting in the garage—the app can also turn things down for you, so you don’t even have to be home to clock up your #OhmHours.

You then get paid up—to $300 per year—with the added satisfaction that you’ve saved tonnes (literally) of CO2 emissions.

Everything is monitored through a simple mobile app and web dashboard. You can log in with Facebook or Google and even give #OhmHours to others as a referral.

You can get the detail on exactly how Ohmconnect are able to do this on their blog.

Meet Adam. Adam has a beard, likes trees and uses OhmConnect

Not long ago a group of American electric power producers got together to try to stop a rule that allows utility customers to be compensated for saving power at wholesale prices—which can spike to a few times above retail prices.

This obviously threatened the Ohmconnect business model.

But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in January that utility customers who save energy at specific time are entitled to receive those payments.

OhmConnect is only currently available in California.

2. sonnenCommunity: "A Utility Without Power Plants"

Last year a German company called sonnenBatterie released a home energy storage battery to rival Tesla Energy’s much-feted Powerwall.

And it all happened so fast—sonnenBatterie actually beat the long-trailed Powerwall to the U.S. retail market.

The big attraction with sonnenBatterie is that you can buy the full package—solar panels, inverters, control technology and of course the lithium-ion battery pack—for little more than 10,000 euros. (This is better than buying it all separately, although the battery isn’t the biggest out there).

The company then set up sonnenCommunity—which is simply a virtual pool of people with these solar-plus-storage systems.

With this virtual network, system owners can connect others with the system to trade or share their excess solar power.

Everyone with a sonnenBatterie is in the network. The software calculates how much is fed into the grid by each user and gives the producer control over selling that on to others—whether they have a sonnenBatterie or not.

Mathias Block from the company—now just called sonnen—explains: “We’re kind of an utility without power plants since we’ll have thousands of small, decentralized and digital connected producers and consumers. Conventional producers of energy with their fossil and nuclear power and huge centralized plants won’t be necessary anymore.”

Read page 1

3. Local Volts: "Anyone Can Become an Energy Farmer"

Working on the same principle Australian start-up Local Volts is aiming to capitalize on this month’s arrival of the Tesla home battery in Australia by creating a system whereby consumers can trade their surplus energy with other small-scale consumers.

Jitendra Tomar, from the Sydney-based startup, has said: “Anybody, whether you’re big or small, whether you’re a farmer or residential person, whether you’re a high school or tennis club, can become an energy farmer.”

This system also puts control in the hands of the purchaser, who can decide who they want to buy their energy from. Although this can be based on price, it may also be a good way to support your local solar panel-clad high school.

Although traditional energy utilities don’t much like these new trends, the companies that manage distribution in Australia like Citipower and Powercor are taking up the challenge, celebrating the Aussie cities that share self-produced power power using their ready-to-go networks.

4. Entelligo: Lets Home Solar Salespeople Find You a Better Deal

This Amsterdam-based startup was founded by three Italians looking to help renewable energy salespeople sell you all the stuff you need to generate your own power.

Entelligo Pro is a mobile sales app that lets people selling renewable energy technologies calculate costs of solar panels and installation for a customer during their doorstep pitch.

It can provide graphs and other simple visual data to show the customer how much money and CO2 they can save—and it’ll even create a digital sales proposal the customer can sign on the spot.

But ultimately they want to network all local or national suppliers of various home energy services together—so the iPad-wielding salespeople will eventually work in real time with local solar panel manufacturers and installation companies to offer combined services at the cheapest possible prices.

They also want to use the simpler bits of this system to create another app—called Entelligo Home, due to be released in spring 2016—that will let a householder do this themselves, even contacting a local solar provider if they want to get up and running.

5. Google’s Project Sunroof: Google Map Your Solar Potential

In energy app terms this is an oldie but a goodie. It’s a web application within which you simply enter your zip code—and in seconds you’ll have an estimate of how solar might work on your roof.

Launched in summer 2015 in Google’s home state of California, Project Sunroof already serves a number of cities across the U.S.

Because it’s Google, it’s likely to roll out and internationalize faster than some of the others—and will likely producing a multiplier effect for the likes of Entelligo, sonnenCommunity and Local Volts.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

China’s Coal Use and Carbon Emissions Fall as Renewables Have Record-Breaking Year

100% Renewable Energy Is Possible, Here’s How

World’s Carbon Budget Is Only Half as Big as Thought

Warren Buffett Wages Quiet War on Solar in the West

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Popular
South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (S.C.U.T.E) unearthed three baby loggerheads after a nest inventory at Pawleys Island beach. Lorraine Chow

Sea Turtle Population Rebounding But Many Threats Remain

A new study published in Science Advances has found that most global sea turtles populations are recovering after historical declines.

The results from the analysis suggest that conservation programs actually work, and why we must defend the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that protects vulnerable plants and animals, and is currently under attack by political and business interests.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
www.youtube.com

Baby Rhino Brings New Hope to India’s Manas National Park

A baby rhino spotted alongside its mother in Manas National Park, located in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, is an encouraging new sign that the rhino population in the protected area is on the upswing. The mother, named Jamuna, was rescued as a calf from Kaziranga National Park, located about 200 miles east of Manas and raised at the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, a facility that cares for injured or orphaned wild animals run by Wildlife Trust of India/International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Assam Forest Department. She was moved to the Manas in 2008 as part of the country's rhino conservation efforts.

The calf is her second since 2013—a positive indication that despite concerns due to poaching of mature males, rhinos in Manas are reproducing.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Cedar Mesa Valley of the Gods in the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. Bob Wick, BLM

Navajo Nation Readies Legal Action if Trump Shrinks Bears Ears National Monument

Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's recommendation to reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah could spark a legal battle between the Navajo Nation and the Trump administration.

"We are prepared to challenge immediately whatever official action is taken to modify the monument or restructure any aspect of that, such as the Bears Ears Commission," Ethel Branch, Navajo Nation attorney general, told Reuters.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Jilson Tiu / Greenpeace

Nestlé, Unilever, P&G Among Worst Offenders for Plastic Pollution in Philippines Beach Audit

A week-long beach clean up and audit at Freedom Island in Manila Bay has exposed the companies most responsible for plastic pollution in the critical wetland habitat and Ramsar site—one of the worst locations for plastic pollution in the Philippines.

The Greenpeace Philippines and #breakfreefromplastic movement audit, the first of its kind in the country, revealed that Nestlé, Unilever and Indonesian company PT Torabika Mayora are the top three contributors of plastic waste discovered in the area, contributing to the 1.88 million metric tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste in the Philippines per year.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
GMO
www.youtube.com

Arkansas Plant Board Backs Dicamba Ban Next Summer in Blow to Monsanto

The Arkansas Plant Board has approved new regulations that prohibit the use of dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31, 2018 after receiving nearly 1,000 complaints of pesticide misuse in the state.

Arkansas, which temporarily banned the highly volatile weedkiller in July, could now face legal action from Monsanto, the developers of dicamba-resistant soybeans or cotton and the corresponding pesticide, aka the Xtend crop system.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Crews cleanup a spill from the Rover pipeline near the Tuscrawas River in southern Stark County. Ohio EPA

Ohio EPA Hikes Fines Against Rover Pipeline to $2.3 Million

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the state attorney general's office Wednesday to hold the owners of the troubled Rover natural gas pipeline responsible for $2.3 million dollars in fines. Rover leaked more than 2 million gallons of drilling mud into protected Ohio wetlands this spring, leading the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order a halt to construction.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Diego Cambiaso / Flickr

White House Considers Green Rebrand

The White House convened a "big-picture" strategy meeting on climate and environment this week, Politico reported.

At the meeting, deputy-level White House officials and representatives from agencies discussed how to frame President Trump's larger environmental objectives beyond simply overturning Obama-era regulations. Per Politico, meeting attendees considered the possibility of highlighting job creation and new energy technology and "how to combat the public perception that the administration is out of touch with climate science."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
iStock

How Trump Could Undermine the U.S. Solar Boom

By Llewelyn Hughes and Jonas Meckling

Tumbling prices for solar energy have helped stoke demand among U.S. homeowners, businesses and utilities for electricity powered by the sun. But that could soon change.

President Donald Trump—whose proposed 2018 budget would slash support for alternative energy—may get a new opportunity to undermine the solar power market by imposing duties that could increase the cost of solar power high enough to choke off the industry's growth.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox