Government in your fridge: mandatory remote appliance control could ease UK power grid

Some cities in the US and Europe have problems with brownouts and blackouts caused by increasing power demands at certain times of the year. In some cities in the US, power companies have resorted to rolling blackouts to ensure that everyone has access to power during times of peak demand, such as hot summer days. In the UK, the National Grid is considering implementing a requirement that would have sensor chips placed inside certain white goods.

These white goods would be things such as freezers, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, and electric ovens. What officials in the UK want to be able to do is remotely turn off these sensor equipped smart appliances during times of peak demand to reduce the load on the electrical grid. Shutting down the appliances equipped with smart sensors would not require the owner's approval.

Rather than simply turning off and leaving off devices such as freezers and refrigerators, the sensors inside will reportedly be smart enough to balance the strain on the electric grid with the temperature inside the appliances to keep the contents of your refrigerator or freezer from being ruined. The appliances would be able to switch themselves on and off for short durations of time. Officials say that appliances like refrigerators and freezers would be switched off "for a few seconds and only occasionally."

The National Grid is a private company in the UK that supplies power to British homes, provides that power at 240 V and a frequency of 50 Hz. The sensors would reportedly reduce the risk of frequency fluctuations and balance power by switching off appliances in homes when the frequency of electricity drops to 47 Hz or less. The smart sensor initiative has reportedly received the blessing of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, which is a European Union energy regulator. The cost of adding the smart sensor will increase the price of an appliance by £40.

[via Hotforsecurity]