SUMMARY: WattTime and Rocky Mountain Institute seek to bring a new technology for reducing building carbon emissions and water consumption to market. WattTime’s technology, referred to as environmental demand response, is software that automatically shifts energy use to lower-polluting moments for smart devices. It lowers emissions by 5-15% invisibly and automatically.

PROBLEM SPACE: “All paths to stop climate change have one element in common: rapidly converting the worldäó»s power grids to renewable energy. During the transition to a renewable power grid, the carbon intensity of the grid changes constantly. At certain moments a consumer is burning coal to supply their electricity needs, while at other times they use wind and solar. Until now, that fact has been invisible to consumers, and they have had no way to choose the cleanest times. This leads to problems: consumers have limited control over their carbon emissions, and power grids are increasingly forced to waste renewable energy. CAISO expects to curtail up to 8 GW of renewable power this year. If consumers could shift their consumption, invisibly and automatically, to use this power, the grid would be cleaner.

Grids must be enabled to handle 100% renewable energy. To do this cost-effectively, electricity users need to control the emissions created by their appliances and shift energy use in sensible ways. As Fuller put it, “”The global energy grid is the World Game’s highest priority objective.”” WattTime’s technology is the only technology in existence today that lets consumers actively participate in improving the energy grid and controlling their emissions.”

PROBLEM SPACE: “WattTime starts making an impact right away. While the emissions impact of a single user is small, it creates a strong social shift. Suddenly, consumers are empowered to manage their own carbon emissions. Culturally, it creates an awareness of the link between personal behavior and carbon use, but importantly it also emphasizes the power of technology to affect this. While WattTime’s technology creates economic value for the grid, there is currently no regulations in place that allow WattTime to harvest that value; as a result, WattTime has developed an innovative business model based on behavioral economics. It earns money to support its operations because consumers want to feel empowered, through technology, to reduce emissions. This leads to lower customer acquisition costs for devices that adopt WattTime.

Over time, we expect that WattTime can have the following impacts: 15% lower carbon emissions right away; an ability to change the runtime of coal plants at scale sufficient to force early retirement; and the development of a two-way grid that allows demand to support variable supply from renewables. This should lower grid costs and allow a 100% renewable grid to succeed.”

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