What is carbon intensity?
Carbon Intensity (CI) is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to generate a specific unit of power. We measure CI in pounds per kWh, and the number ranges from close to 0 up to approximately 2 lbs/kWh. The average CI across the U.S. is 1, which is close to the CI score for natural gas. The higher the number, the higher the carbon emissions and related environmental impact.
How are carbon intensity and fuel mix related?
Carbon intensity varies depending on the fuel sources that utilities use to generate energy over the course of a day or week. In the Sense app, you see the aggregate score for all the fuel sources in your region at any given point in time, as well as the proportions of each fuel in the mix. The CI score varies dynamically; for instance, if the grid is using coal, the carbon intensity will be higher than if power is generated mostly by natural gas or solar.
Where does the carbon data come from and how often is it updated?
We’re using Singularity Energy’s Carbonara platform to provide carbon intensity data every 5 minutes.
Is this feature available on the web?
No, currently only a mobile version is available.
Why isn’t carbon data available for my area?
Sense uses grid-emission data provided by regional balancing authorities across the U.S. Many of these regions report data in five-minute intervals, but others have a significant delay. Today, the Carbon Intensity feature is only available for regions that report data in nearly real-time.
How does this work with community solar or clean energy programs through my utility?
Community solar and clean energy programs use carbon offsets to reduce the subscriber’s overall carbon emissions, but electricity is still delivered by the utility provider. When you use a kWh of electricity, it’s being generated by the fuel sources that are powering the grid at that moment. Even if you participate in a clean energy or solar program, the Carbon Intensity feature can help you reduce your carbon impact by using energy when the least carbon intensive fuel sources are powering the regional electricity grid.
What if I have solar?
The carbon intensity feature does not account for your solar. It focuses on energy that’s being produced by the grid.