Tidal power could meet ‘one third of global electricity needs’, says academic study

tidal power

In theory, one third of the world’s electricity needs could be supplied using tidal power, according to a state-of-the-art research paper from Bangor University.

The researchers from the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University estimated that 5,792 terawatt hours could be produced by tidal power plants around the world. At present 90% of tidal power projects are located in just 5 countries, with the majority in France and the UK – one of the largest being the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project in South Wales.

The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project. Image source: tidallagoonpower.com

Tidal power is low carbon and extremely predictable, capturing kinetic energy from rising and falling tides and using it to generate electricity. The British Isles are in an ideal position to harness tidal power, with several areas of high tidal range – the vertical difference between the water level at low and high tide.

Dr Simon Neill, the lead author of the study, explains “tidal lagoons are attracting national and international attention, with the 2017 publication of the government commissioned ‘Hendry Review’, which assessed the economic case for tidal lagoon power plants, and suggested that a ‘Pathfinder’ project in Swansea Bay could be the start of a global industry. Geographically, the UK is in an ideal position, containing many regions of large tidal range as a result of the resonant characteristics of this part of the European shelf seas.”

Tidal power is attractive for many reasons, although it doesn’t come without its challenges – as Dr Sophie Ward explains: “Although tidal lagoons will likely be less intrusive than tidal barrages (which tend to span entire estuaries), they require careful design and planning to minimize the impact on the local environment. With significant global potential for tidal range power plants, we need to closely monitor environmental consequences of extracting energy from the tides, and be cautious of altering natural habitats by building structures and impounding water in lagoons or behind barrages.”

There are several types of tidal power plants – including tidal barrages, tidal lagoons and underwater turbines. Although it has huge potential for generating clean, renewable energy, tidal power is currently lagging behind wind and solar energy due to relatively high setup costs and the limited number of coastal sites where it can be generated.

Watch the short video below to learn more:

Rolls Royce to go fully electric by 2040

Rolls Royce

Luxury car maker Rolls Royce has promised to ditch petrol engines and only produce electric cars by 2040.

The move was announced to bring Rolls Royce in line with new legislation in the UK and France. Both countries have promised to ban cars that aren’t at least partly powered by electricity by 2040. The luxury vehicle brand believes that other markets, such as North America and the Middle-East, will soon follow suit.

Alternative Energy

Chief executive of Rolls Royce Torsten Müller-Ӧtvӧs said in an interview “When you see what happens in Saudi, when you see what happens in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, they are all looking into alternative energy. Electrification will also happen in these countries, sooner or later… we will definitely offer 12-cylinder engines as long as we can, as long as it is legally allowed to offer them.”

Rolls Royce 103EX
The Rolls Royce 103EX “vision car” imagines what vehicles could be like over the next 100 years. Image source: Rolls Royce.

Plans for the Future

At present, Rolls Royce offer 12-cylinder petrol engines in most of their cars. They plan to unveil a new electric car within the next 10 years, and gradually phase-out their petrol offerings over the next decades.

“Electrification actually fits extremely well with Rolls-Royce because it’s silent, it’s powerful, it’s torquey, so in that sense it’s a very good fit.”

Although France and the UK are the only countries so far to set solid deadlines, Germany have indicated that they are considering similar legislation, and China want one fifth of all new cars to be powered by electricity by 2025.

Bitcoin uses as much energy as Ireland

Bitcoin

New research has revealed that the virtual currency Bitcoin now uses as much energy as the whole country of Ireland!

The global network of computers involved in running Bitcoin currently consumes an estimated 2.55GW of electricity – and that figure is rising quickly. Ireland on the other hand, with its population of 4.8 million people, uses just over 3GW. These figures were estimated by Alex de Vries, a Dutch economist working for PwC in his paper titled Bitcoin’s growing energy problem.

He points out that the 2.55GW fugure is a conservative estimate, and that the real number is likely to be much higher.

Bitcoin Mining

The global Bitcoin network relies on computers to solve complex mathematical problems; a process known as Bitcoin ‘mining’. The problems become more complex over time, meaning that increasingly powerful computers are needed to solve them – to the point that there are now several companies that specialise in building high-spec PCs designed specifically for Bitcoin mining.

Computers are, of course, notorious for eating up electricity and generating large amounts of heat. Much of the energy used by computers – and large IT facilities such as data centres – is used just for cooling.

An example of an Icarus Bitcoin mining rig. Image source.

Climate Change

The amount of energy used by Bitcoin and other virtual currencies has been a hotly debated topic in recent years, as the industry is becoming a huge carbon producer and a serious threat to climate change.

De Vries estimates that the Bitcoin industry could hit 7.67GW of electricity usage in the near future, making it comparable with countries like Austria in terms of energy use.

How do I find out who my gas and electricity supplier is?

How do I find out who my gas and electricity supplier is?

Have you just moved, or are about to move house? Or perhaps you’ve simply lost track of your paperwork. Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to find out which company supplies your gas and electricity. There are various ways to find out who your energy supplier is – read on to find out.

Before you do anything else… find a bill

It sounds obvious, but before you try anything else, see if you can dig out an old bill or letter from your energy provider. If you manage to get your hands on one, it should have the name and/or logo of your supplier on it, along with their contact details. It may also be worth searching through your old emails.

Obviously this won’t work if you have just moved house. If you’re moving into a rented property, there’s a chance your landlord or letting agency may know who your current supplier is.

If you still can’t find out, move on to one of the methods below.

Finding your gas supplier

Finding out who supplies your gas is easy – you just need to call the Meter Point Administration Service (also known as the Meter Number Helpline). Tell them your postcode and first line of your address, and they will give you the name of your current supplier along with your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN).

Their number is 0870 608 1524.

The Meter Point Administration Service operates nationwide and calls are charged at 7p per minute.

Finding your electricity supplier

To find out who your electricity supplier is, you will need to call your local distribution company. The number you call will depend on which region of the country you live in – take a look at the map below to find out who to call in your area.

Finding your local distribution company
Call your local distribution company to find out who supplies your electricity. Click on the image to expand.

Here’s a list of distribution companies along with their phone numbers:

Region Distribution Company Phone Number
Northern Scotland Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks 0800 048 3515
Central & Southern Scotland SP Energy Networks 0330 1010 300
North East England & Yorkshire: Northern Powergrid 0800 011 3332
North West England Electricity North West 0800 195 4141
Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales & North Shropshire SP Energy Networks 0330 1010 300
East Midlands & West Midlands Western Power Distribution 0800 096 3080
South Wales & South West England Western Power Distribution 0800 096 3080
London, South East England & Eastern England UK Power Networks 0845 601 4516
Southern England Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks 0800 048 3516
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Electricity Networks 03457 643 643
Republic of Ireland ESB Networks 00353 1850 372 757

The distributor will tell you the name of your electricity supplier as well as your Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN). The cost of the call varies depending on which number you need to call.

 

While you’re here… Are you thinking about switching energy suppliers? You could save up to £300 per month by switching to Eversmart – get a quote here.

Wind power overtakes nuclear for a whole quarter

UK wind farms

For the first 3 months of 2018 the UK’s combined wind farms generated more electricity than its 8 nuclear power stations, setting a new milestone for renewable energy.

Wind power provided 18.8% of the country’s electricity during the first three months of 2018, with only gas power providing more. This is the first time that wind power alone has beaten nuclear – wind and solar combined did overtake nuclear during the final quarter of 2017. This is the latest in a long line of positive steps for cheap electricity from renewable sources.

Western Link

It is thought that the recently built Western Link played a big role in achieving this milestone. The 262-mile long cable connects wind farms in Hunterston, Western Scotland to Connah’s Quay in North Wales, allowing electricity to be efficiently distributed throughout England & Wales as well as Scotland. Before the link was developed, Scottish wind farms often had to shut down as the National Grid couldn’t cope with the excess power.

Emma Pinchbeck, executive director at RenewableUK said “It is great news for everyone that rather than turning turbines off to manage our ageing grid, the new cable instead will make best use of wind energy.”

The UK is a world leader in wind power, with over 8,000 wind turbines in various onshore and offshore locations around the country – the largest being Whitelee Wind Farm in western Scotland, with its 215 turbines and a total capacity of 539MW. As of the beginning of May 2018, UK wind farms had a total capacity of 19.2 gigawatts.

 

Top image: Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm (source).

The shifting trends in global energy use

global energy architecture

The way the world generates its energy is shifting dramatically, as populations grow and demand in developing nations increases. In the 21st century alone global energy demand has almost doubled, creating challenges for governments and energy producers worldwide.

The blogging team at Roof Stores have sifted through the data and created a fascinating infographic that puts the big numbers into perspective and highlights some surprising trends and patterns.

Take a look at the full infographic below and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

global energy architecture infographic

California introduces mandatory solar panels on new homes

Solar panels in California

California has become the first state in the USA to make solar panels compulsory on all new homes and apartment buildings, starting from 2020.

The plan, which still needs approval from the Building Standards Commission, was recently approved by the California Energy Commission in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Existing laws already require that at least 50% of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources.

California is the most populous states in the US, and one of the sunniest. It has already invested over $42m in solar energy, with around 16% of the state’s energy coming from solar last year.

It is estimated that adding solar panels will add around $8,000 – $12,000 to the cost of a new home, as some critics have been quick to point out. However, the California Energy Commission has argued that the extra cost will only add around $40 a month to an average mortgage, and that the panels will save homeowners around $80 per month in electricity bills.

Some homes will be exempt from the new law if installing solar panels is not feasible – for example, homes that are usually in the shade. Existing homeowners will not be forced to get panels, although government rebate programmes are available for those who wish to do so. The new rules would apply to single-family residences and multi-family buildings up to three stories high.

“We cannot let Californians be in homes that are essentially the residential equivalent of gas guzzlers”, said commissioner of the California Energy Commission David Hochschild, describing the new law as a “very bold and visionary step”.

Energy security in Britain

energy security

Large-scale power outages are thankfully rare in the UK. In an uncertain world it’s the job of organisations like Ofgem, The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, and The National Grid to keep our energy supplies secure and reliable.

Ofgem recently released a detailed infographic explaining where our energy comes from, how it’s kept stable during periods of high demand, and which other countries we cooperate with in order to improve energy security & save costs. Factors such as unusual weather, the cost of fossil fuels, the availability of renewable power and economic activity can all affect demand and put strain on the National Grid.

Did you know?…

  • Energy demand can triple on a cold winters day
  • Britain is able to import electricity from France, Ireland and the Netherlands when demand is high
  • We can also sell electricity to a number of European countries when demand in Britain is low
  • Around half of Britain’s natural gas comes from the North Sea
  • Gas can be imported from continental Europe via pipelines or shipped in from further away in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The government are also rolling out Smart Meters and attempting to create a Smart Grid, which will make it easier to understand energy usage and anticipate periods of high demand.

The full Ofgem infographic can be seen below. Click or tap on the image for a better view.

energy security infographic

How to save energy when you drive

energy saving driving

The home isn’t the only place where you can save energy. According to a study by the AA, you can save as much as 33% on fuel just by making a few changes to your driving habits.

Check your tyres

As well as being dangerous, worn or under-inflated tyres can reduce fuel efficiency. Check your tyre pressure regularly – especially before a long journey.

Check your oil

Make sure you have the right amount of oil in your engine (especially if you own an older vehicle) and be sure to use the correct type of oil. Check your manufacturer’s handbook if you are unsure which specification you should be using.

Get your car serviced regularly

Most manufacturers recommend getting your car serviced every twelve months or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Lose weight

The more weight your car is carrying, the more fuel you will use. If an item doesn’t need to be in your car, leave it at home.

Your car doesn’t need to warm up

This is an old practice that belongs in the past. Experts say that modern engines need no more than 30 seconds to warm up, and that your car will warm up more quickly when it’s moving anyway. There’s no need to start the car several minutes before travelling – doing so will simply waste fuel.

Scrape ice in the winter

Using a scraper or a de-icer spray is better than leaving the car idling and waiting for the ice to melt.

Plan ahead

Getting lost and/or stuck in slow moving traffic wastes fuel. Plan your route and check the traffic news before setting off on a long journey.

Smoothly does it

Rapid starting and stopping eats up a lot of fuel. Pull away gently, look ahead and anticipate hazards to avoid harsh braking. Try to avoid coming to a complete stop by approaching junctions slowly and looking ahead.

Change gear early

The AA recommends changing gear when your revs reach around 2,000 rpm (in a diesel car) or 2,500 (petrol).

Be careful with the air con

Turning on the air conditioning causes your car to use more fuel. At low speeds, it may be better to just open a window instead. Save the air con for higher speeds, where opening a window would create extra drag and hamper your fuel efficiency.

Turn off unnecessary electrics

Your car’s electrical systems draw power from the battery, which in turn is charged-up by using fuel. Turn off things like lights, window heaters and de-misters if you don’t need them.

Things you shouldn’t do:

Coasting – Some people believe that rolling along out of gear will save fuel. According to the AA, the fuel savings are negligible (especially in modern cars) and it’s dangerous, as you don’t have full control of the vehicle.

Turning off your engine instead of idling – This is only advisable if you expect to be stopped for over 3 minutes (for example at a level crossing or in heavily gridlocked traffic), your engine is warm, and you have a good battery. Otherwise, the extra fuel needed to start your engine again will negate any fuel saved by switching it off. It’s also not kind to your battery.

Over to you!

Do you have any eco-driving tips of your own? Let us know in the comments section.

What is a smart meter and how do they work?

how do smart meters work

The government wants a smart meter installed in every home and business in the country by 2020. In this article we’ll tackle some of the most common questions & concerns about smart meters, including; what are smart meters? How do smart meters work? How much do they cost? How are they fitted? And are they worth it?

Smart meters explained

Smart meters are designed to replace old, traditional gas & electricity meters. Smart meters communicate directly with your energy supplier, transmitting regular, accurate meter readings. This means no more climbing into your cupboard in order to give your supplier a manual reading. It also puts an end to inaccurate energy bills based on estimated usage.

Smart meters usually come bundled with an in-home device (IHD). Also known as an energy monitor, the IHD has a screen that displays how much gas and electricity you are using in near real-time. Seeing your energy usage and spending can help you adjust your lifestyle and save energy & money.

Smart meter diagram

What does a smart meter look like?

The actual smart meter – the unit that’s usually tucked away in a cupboard or a corner – looks similar to a traditional electricity or gas meter. However when most people mention a ‘smart meter’, they’re actually referring to the in-home device – this is a sleek, small display that sits on a shelf or table top and displays your energy usage. It’s fairly small and discreet – perhaps a little larger and bulkier than an average mobile phone.

What does a smart meter look like?

How much does a smart meter cost?

Nothing! Your smart meter will be installed for free. If you switch over to Eversmart, you will receive a free smart meter fitted by a trained engineer plus a free home safety test. You can find out more about switching to us here and more about our smart meters here.

What are the benefits of having a smart meter?

There are two very big benefits of having a smart meter installed. The first is that your energy bills will no longer be estimated and you will only pay for the actual amount of gas and electricity you use. The second is having visibility of your live usage. The IHD displays your kWh usage and the amount you are spending. This is especially useful if you are a pre-payment customer, as the smart meter will tell you how much credit you have left.

We have listed a few more benefits below:

  • More accurate bills
     
  • No need to submit manual meter readings
     
  • Improved service – As energy suppliers get a better understanding of their customer’s energy usage and habits, they can offer better tariffs.
     
  • Remote topping-up – Pre-payment customers with a smart meter can top-up online or over the phone. No more walking to the shops just to top up your gas and electric!
     
  • Save energy and money – If you can see how much energy you are using and when you are using the most, it’s easier to make smart choices and lifestyle changes that will reduce your usage, bring down your bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
     
  • Helping to create the “smart grid” – The more people that have smart meters, the more energy suppliers can plan ahead and supply energy more efficiently. This saves money for both the suppliers and their customers.
     

Some other frequently asked questions:

How do smart meters transmit data?

Smart meters from Eversmart come with a mobile SIM card that transmits your usage data. It can also receive messages and updates. The SIM is completely free and you do not need to pay a monthly bill or any other fees for using it.

The SIM can roam between several networks, so there’s no need to worry about whether it will get a signal.

Do smart meters need the internet to work?

No. The smart meter uses a SIM card to communicate with the energy supplier. The smart meter also connects wirelessly with the IHD (it doesn’t use your Wi-Fi, as some people believe).

Are they safe?

There have been rumours and conspiracy theories floating around that smart meters are somehow harmful to your health. We can tell you that smart meters are subject to the same safety regulations and rigorous testing as other consumer technology products, as required by UK and EU law.

Smart meters do emit low-level radio frequencies, as do many consumer electrical products. Public Health England (formerly The Health Protection Agency) say that the evidence suggests the radio waves produced by smart meters do not pose a risk to health. The government has published a very detailed report on smart meters & health, which you can read here.

How are smart meters powered?

The smart meter is powered directly by your home’s power supply. Your IHD from Eversmart can be plugged in or powered by batteries. Note that if you turn off the IHD, the smart meter will continue working and transmitting data as usual.

Who will install my smart meter?

Your smart meter will be fitted and tested by a trained engineer.

How long does it take to fit a smart meter?

It usually takes up to one hour per meter (gas and/or electricity). So if you are a dual-fuel customer, it should take no longer than 2 hours.

Note that dual-fuel customers will need two smart meters – one for your gas supply and one for your electricity. Both are free and we will aim to install both in the same visit. You will only need one in-home display.

Can I switch energy suppliers if I have a smart meter?

Yes. Be aware however that if you already have an older 1st-generation smart meter, it may not be compatible with your new supplier. If you are unsure, check with your current supplier before making the switch.

Modern 2nd-generation smart meters can be switched seamlessly between suppliers.

Can I get a smart meter if I pre-pay for my gas or electric?

Yes. A smart meter will help you monitor your usage and allow you to pay remotely. They’re also ideal for people with limited mobility, as traditional meters are often difficult and inconvenient to access.

Can I get a smart meter if I rent my home?

Yes. As a tenant, if you are directly responsible for paying the energy bills, then you have the right to choose your own energy supplier. In most circumstances your energy meter belongs to the energy company, not your landlord. This means that you are free to switch suppliers and get your old meter replaced with a smart meter (Ofgem recommends that you still give your landlord a heads-up before getting a smart meter fitted).

In-home Display

How to get a smart meter

Eversmart energy offer a free smart meter to every new customer. We also offer some of the best value energy tariffs in the country – you could save up to £300 per year by switching to us. You can get a quote in under 2 minutes here.

About Eversmart Energy

Eversmart is a proudly independent UK energy supplier. We understand that people lead busy lives, so we like to do things the smart way – that means if you don’t have time to make a phone call, you can reach us by text, Facebook Messenger or social media. We believe that little things like this make a big difference.

If you make the switch to Eversmart you will also receive a free smart meter, helping you monitor your energy usage and keep your bills under control. All this has helped us become one of the cheapest energy suppliers in the UK.

You can find out more about us on our homepage - eversmartenergy.co.uk.