Briefs: Smart fridges helping to cool the planet?

Over 3000 npower customers are taking part in first large-scale UK trial of smart grid enabled fridges. The trial will run throughout 2010 and is designed to assess the effectiveness of smart fridge technology capable of cutting power use from fridge freezers during periods of peak demand. Announced on the same day as the government released a major new study into the viability of smart grid technologies, the trial will see customers supplied with dynamic demand fridges and fridge freezers for free. This is said to be the world's first residential test of the technology. The fridges are designed to automatically modify their power consumption in response to second-by-second changes in the balance between supply and demand on the grid. The trial is being run by npower, the white goods manufacturer Indesit and smart grid technology specialist RLtec. "Smart fridges" could reduce the UK's CO2 emissions by 2 million tonnes and cut grid balancing costs by GBP 220 m a year. The companies claim that the fridges' performance will not be affected by the technology as the appliances are never completely switched off. Instead, each fridge acts like a battery that stores excess power it does not need and then allows the grid to draw on it at times of peak demand. Each fridge will be monitored in real time by a data collection system, which will feed back to researchers.