The visits to my blog post on backwards running electricity meters are still increasing, and the comments, both publicly and privately to me, continue to flood in. I have now had over 1,500 visits in the last few months alone. And people say this is not a big issue?!? I figure the exponential leap in interest in this issue coincides perfectly with the ‘dash for PV’ that happened since the government’s announcement of the cutting of the FiT rate back in the autumn, and it’s been since Feb/March when the weather has got much more clement (and so they are beginning to generate more than they use) that this new breed of PV micro-generators are experiencing the backwards running of their electricity meters for the first time and are befuddled by it; hopping on Google to find out more and then hitting my site.
What I am noticing recently is a new worrying trend, worrying that is if you think that all these micro-generating households should be reducing their use of ‘dirty’ grid based electricity and contributing to a cleaner electricity supply.
I have had several email exchanges with people who are worried that their electricity meters are going backwards to such a degree that they are in negative amounts on their usage meters They, for their own reasons, don’t particularly want to inform their energy supplier of the fact, but realise their need to make it look as if they are at least using some electricity so their supplier doesn’t get suspicious and suss out what is going on.
So what is their solution to this? They are using their immersion heaters to heat up hot water, as well as using electric heating (when they have gas central heating systems) to heat their homes – when the sun isn’t shining. Now we all know that using electricity to heat both space and water is a pretty uneconomical thing to do if you have a gas system installed – carbon wise as well as monetarily – but for these householders the monetary side isn’t relevant as they are simply trying to get back into ‘positive’ numbers, even just slightly, on their usage meter.
But think about the carbon impact of this. The whole idea of people generating their own ‘clean’ electricity is to reduce their carbon footprint and be part of the green revolution (although, of course, some people are only interested in the revenue side of this scheme), but for people with perfectly good, and much less carbon intensive, gas heating and hot water systems in their homes, to start using grid electricity unnecessarily to heat water and space, is concerning from a carbon point of view.
I accept some people will argue I am being idealistic about this, and that they have ‘generated’ a certain amount of ‘free’ electricity, and so why shouldn’t they ‘use’ all of it, using the grid as a sort of ‘storage battery’ for their electricity which they can then use when the sun isn’t shining, but from a peak load management (domestically this is between 5-9 pm) point of view as well as a carbon reduction issue in the future, this type of behaviour is not helping.
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