July 13, 2022
5 min read
It was around the beginning of 2016 that I started becoming obsessed with how data could act as a catalyst to put humanity back on a sustainable path. Climate change is a major issue, which was at the time completely ignored by the tech industry in general, and by entrepreneurs in particular.
As we know, climate change is predominantly caused by fossil fuels being burned for energy. A key piece of the solution is to electrify the world, but what good is it if we still use electricity produced with fossil fuels?
In a world that is increasingly becoming electric, there is a need to organise and make accessible the carbon footprint of electricity consumed. As wind and solar production fluctuates throughout the day, this information needs to be dynamic and updated in real-time. As this information will be scrutinized and challenged by many parties, the effort has to be collaborative, open and transparent. This is what motivated the creation of Electricity Map, which started out as a very simple real-time data visualisation in June 2016.
First version of Electricity Map (8th of June 2016)
Fast forward to 2022, and the Electricity Map project now has had 3500+ contributions and has become now the most popular open source #climatechange project on github. The app is seen by millions every year, used by heads of states and policy makers while being regularly cited on TV, radio and in the written press. It is used in classrooms and at universities around the world, and enables some of the most heated debates of the energy transition on social media. We’re so proud to see that it enables global awareness of a topic that was too often previously reserved to experts.
Our free API has enabled community initiatives such as the integration with Home Assistant, where tens of thousands of people now observe their own electricity footprint, or with xbar, where macOS users track how green their electricity is from the status bar of their computer.
The amount and quality of contributions is both astonishing and humbling. We now cover more than 60+ countries while the granularity is continuously being increased as going beyond countries to reach 150+ zones. This would never have been possible without our community which has dedicated countless hours to improve the app and scavenge hidden data feeds.
More than 150+ zones are now available, ranging from Latin America, Asia, India and Australia - all thanks to the community 🙏
But Electricity Map has become much more than an open source project: our own machine learning and algorithms has enabled us to become a sustainable business whose API is used by the world’s largest companies not only to measure and reduce their electricity footprint, but also to create new product offerings that enable their customers to do the same.
All of these great achievements have only been possible since we last year decided to shutdown our other climate products at Tomorrow in order to focus on decarbonising the power system (you can read about our lessons learned here, here and here).
We have always believed information precedes action — only when you know what is happening can you decide how to act. The world is going electric, and delivering clean electricity any time it is needed has become paramount. Our vision of success is simple: our work will be done the day clean electricity is supplied by all electricity grids of the world, at all times of the year. To get there, we will organise the world’s electricity information, and use it to drive the transition towards a truly decarbonised electricity system.
Our goal: a truly decarbonised electricity system. To get there, we will organise the world's electricity information, and use it to drive the transition towards a truly decarbonised electricity system.
With that newly found ambition comes a new name. Today marks the next step of our evolution, as we’re now becoming Electricity Maps 🥳.
Why the plurality? Because this movement has become so much more than the live Map that it started out as. It has now grown into a company with a planetary impact and a sustainable business. As we engage with citizens, large corporations, policy makers, researchers but also hobbyists and open source contributors, the plurality of our approaches marks the next stage of our evolution. To that end, we will continue gather more data, at an increasing granularity, in order to accurately account for the footprint of all electricity consumed, and help any electricity consumer to drive the decarbonisation of the grid.
Our newly gained focus has enabled us to do so much more, and we plan to reveal many new things in the near future that will help the world reaching the goal of a truly decarbonised grid.
We hope you’ll join us on this exciting journey.
Interested in helping us? Join us here.