Samoa is going 100% renewable – with the help of Tesla

Tesla in Samoa

The island nation of Samoa plans to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025, and the electric car giant Tesla are helping them achieve that goal.

The small country, home to around 200,000 people, previously relied on expensive imported diesel for most of their electricity – in 2012 alone they had to import 95 million litres of the stuff. But cost isn’t the only issue – island nations like Samoa are also at particular risk from the effects of climate change.

In recent years Samoa has invested heavily in renewable energy, with five large solar power plants, a wind farm and hydro-electricity plants. But this presented the country with a new challenge – effectively storing and re-distributing all that energy. That’s where Tesla came in, who have installed 2 of its Powerpack storage systems providing 13.6 MWh of storage. More importantly, they have implemented grid controller software that can react to a spike in demand in a fraction of a second.

“If a big cloud comes over the island and the solar drops very quickly, we can control the battery to make up the difference so we don’t have to start a generator immediately, and we don’t have to keep a generator running even when it might not be needed,” explains JB Straubel, chief technical officer at Tesla.

The software does a job that would be near-impossible for a human. “You have to respond in fractions of a second and you have to be kind of watching a lot of different data sources at the same time and then responding quickly… so it’s sort of the perfect application for a computer to do exactly that.”

solar farm
One of Samoa’s many solar farms. Image Source:Tesla

Since the system was installed earlier this summer power outages have become a thing of the past, and although diesel generators are still needed, usage is way down.
Tesla hope that the technology can be used in other parts of the world as renewable energy use increases.

“We’re going to see a lot more of the problems Samoa was struggling with coming up because they were getting to such high renewable percentages,” says Straubel. “So it’s really an indicator of the future. These are the types of problems and systems that we will definitely see in more parts of the world and in bigger and bigger grids.”

Record numbers of people are switching to smaller suppliers

switching energy suppliers

Almost half a million people switched electricity suppliers last month, with record numbers making the move away from a large supplier to a smaller independent company.

According to new figures released by Energy UK last week, 222,036 customers switched to a ‘mid-tier’ energy provider during the month of June – the highest number ever.

Breaking records

The number of switchers is up 19% compared to the same month in 2017. So far this year 2.7 million people have switched suppliers, compared to 2.6 million by the same point last year.

A record-breaking 5.5 million electricity customers have made the switch so far in 2018.

Confidence to switch

Research suggests that consumers are feeling more confident than ever when it comes to switching energy suppliers, with 9 out of 10 saying that they are happy with the process according to research from the Energy Switch Guarantee.

price comparison
Greater choice and the rise of price comparison websites have helped boost the number of people switching.

Eversmart have been encouraging consumers for years to walk away from the ‘Big 6’ suppliers and explore the cheaper alternatives out there.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, seems to agree. He said:

“The record numbers switching to small and mid-tier suppliers show that more and more customers are taking advantage of the ever-growing competition and choice out there.”

“It only takes a few minutes to either check with your own supplier or to look at what’s on offer from nearly 70 competing suppliers in the market. With the Energy Switch Guarantee in place consumers should feel even more confident that switching will be simple, speedy and safe.”

Save up to £400 per year

Eversmart Energy entered the market in 2016 after new Ofgem regulations made it easier for smaller companies to compete with the Big 6.

A typical dual-fuel household can save up to £400 when they switch to us. You can get a quick energy quote here.

UK renewable energy generation breaks records (again)!

renewable energy UK

Of all the electricity used in the first quarter of 2018, over 30% came from renewable sources – according to new figures from the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) released last week.

Renewables were up by 3.1% compared to the same period last year, despite the higher demand for energy caused by the ‘beast from the east’ cold snap. Stronger winds and greater installed capacity (41.9GW at the end of 2018) are both thought to be the main factors behind the record-breaking stats.

Record-breaking figures

  • 30.1% of all electricity used came from renewable sources during January to March 2018
  • The figure was 27% during the same period last year
  • Wind generation was up by one third compared to last year
  • Wind accounted for almost one fifth of total generation, at 19.11%
  • For comparison, gas power was 39.9%, nuclear was 17.9% and coal was 9.4%

Back in May we reported that wind power out-performed nuclear for the first time ever.

More action needed

Emma Pinchbeck, executive director at RenewableUK, welcomed the positive news but warned that much more needed to be done:

“The landmark report from the government’s official advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, warns that we need to do more to reach our clean energy targets, and it recommends deploying more onshore wind because it’s the cheapest source of energy… We hope Ministers will listen to their own experts and take swift action to lift the block on future onshore projects.”

Here comments refer to the government’s cuts to onshore wind funding in recent years.

Ten of the fastest electric cars in the world

ten of the fastest electric cars in the world

With electric vehicles poised to overtake internal combustion engines over the next few decades, manufacturers around the world are clamouring to break speed records and claim the crown of world’s fastest EV.

The UK will ban the sale of new non-electric vehicles by 2040, with other countries like France following suit. The new legislation is forcing manufacturers to get creative and fast-track their plans for getting more electric vehicles on the roads.

We’ve rounded up a list of ten of the fastest electric cars in the world below. Some of the cars on the list can be purchased right now, such as the Tesla Model S, whilst some are still firmly in concept car territory – like the ridiculous Lamborghini Terzo Millennio.

Check out the list and let us know what you think!

NIO EP9

NIO EP9

Top Speed 194 mph
0-124 mph 7.1 seconds
Horsepower 1,360 hp

The “fastest electric car in the world” from Chinese manufacturer NIO smashed the coveted Nürburgring record with a time of 6 minutes 45 seconds – beating such petrol cars as the Porsche 911 GT2 and Lamborghini Huracán.

If you’re planning to buy one, you need to be quick (and rich!) – only six have been sold so far, all to NIO investors at $1.2 million each. The company plan to sell just another 10 to the general public.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S P100D (Ludicrous Mode)

Top Speed 155 mph
0-60 mph 2.5 seconds
Horsepower 762 hp

The flagship P100D version of the Tesla Model S comes with a new ‘Ludicrous’ mode, which has to be unlocked via a menu on the car’s touch-screen interface. Once activated, the car can fly up to 60mph in two and a half seconds – in other words, it’s a five-seat luxury sedan than can accelerate faster than an Audi R8 V10!

The premium P100D model will cost you upwards of £115,000.

Lucid Air

Lucid Air

Top Speed 235 mph
0-60 mph 2.5 seconds
Horsepower 900–1,000 hp

The Lucid Air is another big executive sedan than is faster than it has any right to be. In a recent test, with its electronic speed-limiter disabled, the car reached a top speed of 235mph. It can also accelerate up to 60mph in 2.5 seconds – making it as quick as its main competitor, the Tesla Model S.

There’s no confirmed price for the UK yet, but the US version can be pre-ordered for around $50,000.

Vanda Dendrobium

Vanda Dendrobium

Top Speed 200+ mph
0-60 mph 2.7 seconds
Horsepower 1,000 hp

There’s no solid production date for this all-electric concept hypercar, but its makers claim that it can exceed 200 mph and can fly from 0-60 in 2.7 seconds!

The Dendrobium shares its name with a flower from its native Singapore, which it resembles when all of its doors are opened.

When it does finally hit the showrooms, you can expect to pay in excess of £1 million to get your hands on one.

Rimac Concept_One

Rimac Concept_One

Top Speed 220 mph
0-100 kmph 2.5 seconds
Horsepower 1,224 hp

Described by its Croatian makers as “the world’s first electric sports car” at the time of its release in 2013, the Rimac Concept_One can get to 62mph faster than a McLaren P1 and can reach a top speed of 220 mph!

The car is also notorious for being crashed by Richard Hammond while filming an episode of the Grand Tour.

Only eight cars were built, selling at over £1 million each!

Genovation GXE

Genovation GXE

Top Speed 220 mph
0-60 mph under 3 seconds
Horsepower 800 hp

Building a brand new car from scratch is costly and complicated. So instead Genovation took a Corvette Grand Sport as a starting point, took out the engine and replaced it with twin electric motors capable of 800 horsepower. (Tesla did something similar when it first designed the Roadster, using a Lotus chassis).

The US team that built the GXE claim the record of “the world’s first street legal Electric car to exceed 220mph”. Unusually for an electric car, the GXE has a manual gearbox, allowing drivers to squeeze out as much powers as possible.

Tesla Roadster 2020

Tesla Roadster (2020)

Top Speed 250+ mph
0-60 mph 1.9 seconds
Horsepower 1,000 hp

The new Tesla Roadster will supersede the original 2008 design and promises to be quicker than any production car ever made (electric or otherwise), with an eye-watering 0-60 time of just 1.9 seconds. The estimated top speed of ‘over 250 mph’ would put it in the same league as the Koenigsegg Agera RS, the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport or the Aston Martin Valkyrie!

“The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline vehicles,” says Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The car was announced in 2017 and is scheduled for release in 2020, with a starting price of around $200,000.

Faraday Future FF 91

Faraday Future FF 91

Top Speed ???
0-60 mph 2.39 seconds
Horsepower 1,050 hp

It’s not the most exotic vehicle on this list, but nevertheless the Faraday Future FF 91 is a family SUV that can accelerate faster than a Ferrari 488 or a Porsche 911 Turbo S! It’s also marginally quicker than its main competition, the Tesla Model S.

The car is rumoured to cost around $180,000 when it goes on sale.

Aston Martin RapidE

Aston Martin RapidE

Aston Martin only plan to sell 155 of these exclusive cars, which they are pitching as a more up-market alternative to anything Tesla has to offer. Details are thin on the ground, but the company’s first electric vehicle is based on the existing Rapide AMR petrol car and is aiming for 800–1,000 horsepower.

Lamborghini Terzo Millennio

Lamborghini Terzo Millennio

The Terzo Millennio (“third millennium” in English) is a futuristic concept car jointly developed by Lamborghini and MIT with one simple goal in mind – to “rewrite the rules on super sports cars”.

The car ditches the traditional ‘skateboard’ structure used by most electric cars – where the bottom of the car contains a large, flat array of batteries – and proposes storing energy in the body of the car itself using supercapacitors. And that’s not all – Lamborghini and the researchers at MIT are looking for a way to make the car self-heal, automatically detecting and repairing cracks & dents in the bodywork.

There are few technical specs and it’s unlikely to go into production anytime soon, but just look at it!

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Ben & Jerry’s offer their support to onshore wind farms

Ben & Jerry's

The Unilever-owned ice cream brand are pressuring the UK government to scrap the obstacles that are preventing more windfarms from being built.

Policy changes and subsidy cuts in recent years have brought onshore windfarm construction to a grinding halt. The ice cream makers, who have a long history of campaigning on environmental issues, are hoping to raise public awareness and force the government into rethinking its renewable energy policies.

They have teamed up with climate change charity 10:10 to launch the ‘Blown Away’ campaign, accompanied by a promotional video:

Public Support

In a poll conducted by 10:10, three quarters of the British public said that they support onshore wind energy. The charity states that despite this, the government are pulling funding away from wind energy and pushing nuclear and fracking instead.

Cecily Spelling, Campaign Manager at 10:10, said “The UK government made a clear commitment to tackle climate change when it signed the Paris Agreement in December 2015, yet they continue to block support for renewables. Public support for renewables is sky high; almost 75% of the public support onshore wind energy, yet the government is choosing to support fossil fuels over renewables. We need to show that, come rain or shine, the British public won’t stand for this!”

Ben & Jerry's
The brand has a long history of campaigning on environmental and social issues. Image source: benjerry.co.uk

Windy Wednesdays

To show their support for the campaign, Ben & Jerry’s have re-branded some of their most popular flavours with wind-themed names, such as “Strawberry Breeze-cake” and “Cherry Gale-cia”. The flavours will be sold at half-price on ‘Windy Wednesdays’.

The company are backing a petition to lift the effective ban on onshore windfarms – you can find more information here.

 

Top image source

10 alternative energy sources we could be using in the future

It has been estimated that fossil fuels will completely run out within the next 50 to 100 years. The world has already started to look to sustainable alternatives such as wind and solar power, but some researchers are looking further ahead to even more efficient and cleaner alternatives.

The team over at Futurism.com have compiled a list of some of the most promising & exciting alternative energy sources.

One day, we could be collecting solar power from space and beaming the energy back down to earth, or digging deep below the ground to harness geothermal energy from magma. Some of these ideas are already being developed, whilst other are still firmly in science fiction territory.

You can check out the full list in the infographic below. (click or tap on the image to view the full-size version).

alternative energy infographic

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:

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
A typical smart meter set-up for a dual fuel customer.

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.

The video below gives you a brief overview of the installation process:

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).

IHD
An Eversmart in-home display (IHD)

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.

A record number of people switched their electricity supplier in February

switching electricity

Over 660,000 people switched electricity suppliers last month, according to industry figures from Energy UK.

This is the highest ever number of people switching in a single month, and represents a 60% increase compared to the same period last year.

2017 also saw the highest number of people switching gas suppliers since 2008, according to the latest figures released by Ofgem.

The unusually cold weather, better informed customers and aggressive advertising by certain energy firms have all been suggested by experts as reasons for the high figures. Around 20% of switches were people moving away from the ‘Big 6’ and opting for a cheaper, independent supplier.

See also: Should I switch to a smaller energy supplier?

“The energy market has never been so competitive, and it’s great to see record numbers of consumers engaging in the market to get a better deal” said chief executive of Energy UK Lawrence Slade.

Customers can save up to £300 per year by switching their gas and electricity to a smaller, more competitive supplier such as Eversmart.