In a comment on my previous blog post a question was asked as to who benefits when customers are able to use cheap electricity.
The answer is that the electricity company benefits the most! When electricity sources such as wind and solar power which can vary in capacity are used the electricity would be cheaper when there is adequate or excess supply. The electricity would be cheaper then to encourage customers to use power hungry devices at those times rather than when the electricity supply is reduced. The larger the capacity of back-up power plants such as gas-fired plants the larger the overall cost of the system (having extra peak-load capacity that is unused most of the time is a waste of money).
However the company that I once worked for on a project related to this was not an electricity company. I can’t name the company due to the confidentiality agreement but if the project ever goes into production I’ll blog about it.
Recently some of the major investment banks have been focussing on how climate change affects business. I think that with these developments there will be a lot of new investment in environment related technologies. Probably if a few people started work on an embedded Linux box for scheduling power use they could have a good chance of getting some investment. The ideal feature list would include control and monitoring over the Internet, the ability to schedule operations based on power price (received from the grid via a technology similar to X10) and local conditions (how charged the batteries are in your photo-voltaic system). It would control devices via standard X10 modules (which can control the power to the device) as well as directly interfacing with machines that need to be turned on all the time.
I would be happy to offer more suggestions via private email to anyone who is interested in implementing this.