From rooftop solar and electric vehicles to energy efficient appliances and smart phone apps that manage our electricity use – clean energy technology is robust and growing.
In fact, many believe it's technologies like these – and the "internet of things" applied to the energy world – that will enable us to turn the corner on climate change. But adoption of these innovative technologies is still relatively low when it comes to homeowners. Uncertainty about return on investment and proven energy savings are just some of the reasons for low adoption rates. But what if we could test these "technologies of the future" in a real community, proving that a home connected to the smart grid can save people money, reduce air pollution and make us more energy independent?
Enter Pecan Street: a living laboratory in Austin, TX that aims to develop and test the clean energy future today.
Since EDF partnered with the University of Texas back in 2008 to found Pecan Street Inc., this 'living smart grid lab' now monitors and measures the energy use and behavior of more than 1,100 participants. It started in Austin's Mueller neighborhood, where Pecan Street is headquartered, but now has participants around the country. Data from participants' homes, many of which have rooftop solar panels and electric cars, are then transmitted to Pecan Street's data center in Austin – the largest database of energy customer use on the planet.
This data on solar generation, electric vehicles and home energy use leads to new products and services that pollute less, use more renewable energy and put customers in the driver's seat. It also leads to new discoveries that make these technologies more efficient, affordable and scalable.
Pecan Street is also moving into a largely untapped area with huge potential for savings – measuring residential water. They have installed custom-designed water meters which provide instant leak detection, sending the information directly to your smart phone.
EDF is doing all it can to make sure that the environmental benefits of this living laboratory are researched, measured and spread far and wide.