As our society moves deeper into the realms of big data, at times it can seem overwhelming that our actions can generate millions of data points. Therefore, what we do with that data becomes crucial in the new energy landscape, as big data promises to improve our lives by unlocking innovation.
By 2015, 340 million smart meters will be supplying data to utilities worldwide, reading and reporting energy from 15-minute to 1-second intervals. For a medium-sized utility, with a half-million meters, that adds up to 52 billion data points a year. Utilities are not necessarily equipped to interpret this information, and insights can be lost.
Enter the newest arm of Pecan Street, Inc: WikiEnergy.
Pecan Street Research Consortium houses the largest residential energy-use database in the world. From solar energy to electric vehicles and everything in between, they are figuring the dynamics of a smart grid, in real-time, with real residents in multiple cities across the US. Now the data that they have been collecting since 2010 can be utilized by academics and researchers from all over the world on this new website platform.
Once registered on the site, members will help validate and curate the data, giving it meaning. Membership to WikiEnergy is currently free, yet restricted to faculty and graduate students at a four-year postsecondary educational institution in the U.S., equivalent-level institutions in other nations, and researchers at non-profit research institutions. EDF, as a founding board member of Pecan Street, will be utilizing the data to analyze the environmental benefits of the technology deployed thus far, such as energy efficiency and rooftop solar power. This will help us determine the best combination of technologies needed to reduce energy consumption and pollution. It will also shed light onto what type of behavior people lean towards when provided with various tools, like demand response (which rewards those who reduce electricity during an energy “rush hour”), time of use pricing (which bases the price for energy on the real-time demand), west-facing solar panels (which collect solar energy at key times), and water leak detection.
With the mission to “advance global university-based research and training on data science, energy, engineering, the environment and human behavior,” WikiEnergy has already enrolled 100 universities in 12 nations.
As we move forward with our research using this data, EDF is confident that WikiEnergy will provide the inputs needed to advance environmental solutions that aren’t just theoretical, but based on real activity. This will give weight to new business models and technologies, and channel new, clean energy products to market faster.
This commentary originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog.