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.

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”.

New technology can charge an electric car in just 8 minutes

electric car

Swiss company ABB have unveiled the ‘world’s fastest’ electric vehicle charger, which can give an electric car 200km of range in just 8 minutes.

The Terra HP fast charger is said to be the fastest in the world, operating at powers of up to 350 kilowatts – around three times faster than Tesla’s Superchargers which put out 120 kilowatts, and almost 6 times more powerful than the CHAdeMO charging technology used by Volkswagen.

ABB demonstrated the new technology in front of world leaders and VIPs at this week’s Hanover Fair.

Consumer concerns

Long charging times and so-called ‘range anxiety’ are two often-cited reasons for the slow adoption of electric cars by the public, along with the relatively high price of new vehicles. The 8 minute charge-time will hopefully help to ease some of these concerns.

ABB fast charger

Worldwide roll-out

ABB have chargers in around 6,500 locations in 60 countries, including the UK. The brand has also been selected by Electrify America, the biggest electric vehicle infrastructure project in the United States.

The new fast chargers are intended for highway rest stops and petrol stations, where short charge times are essential. It’s hoped that putting charging stations along popular routes will boost consumer confidence and encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, Tesla are pushing ahead with their plans to put more chargers in urban areas. The company are busy developing new compact superchargers, which are ideal for cramped, inner-city locations where space is limited.

 

ABB is a “pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally.” The Swiss/Swedish company oprate in more than 100 countries and employ around 135,000 people.

 

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Should I switch to a small energy supplier?

Should I switch to a small energy supplier

For a long time the gas & electricity market has been dominated by the so-called ‘Big 6’ energy firms, leaving consumers with a limited number of options when it came to choosing a supplier. Today, there are over 40 energy providers including many smaller – or ‘independent’ – companies who can offer very competitive prices.

But despite the fact they are considerably cheaper, many people are nervous about switching to a lesser-known supplier – but should you be?

What is an independent energy supplier?

Basically, any company that isn’t one of the Big 6 – British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottosh Power or SSE– is considered as a ‘small’ or ‘independent’ energy company.

Back in 2014, the energy regulator Ofgem announced plans to open up the electricity market and encourage healthier competition between suppliers. These plans included several proposals that would “level the playing field” and make it easier for independent firms to compete with the big boys – such as greater transparency when it comes to wholesale energy prices.

As a result, dozens of new suppliers entered the market, offering lower prices thanks to smaller overheads and freedom from some of the government obligations placed on the Big 6. Eversmart Energy was one of these companies – offering competitive pricing and refreshingly modern customer service through text and social media. We started supplying in 2016, and two years later we’re still going strong and still proudly independent!

Is it safe to switch to a small supplier?

A recent survey from Citizens Advice revealed that 1 in 3 people don’t feel confident switching energy suppliers. Another study from Money Saving Expert asked people what puts them off from switching – the number one answer was being unsure about using an unfamiliar firm.

Money Saving Expert noted on their blog: “While our poll shows many are wary of smaller suppliers, and feedback on new small suppliers is often limited, previous MSE polls suggest some smaller firms can actually offer a better customer experience than their big-name counterparts.”

Ofgem have also attempted to ease concerns about the stability of some smaller suppliers. If an energy company ceases trading, regulations are in place to make sure you are transferred smoothly over to a new supplier.

Whenever you switch energy suppliers, there’s very little hassle and no interruption to your supply. If you do decide to switch to an independent, you could save up to £300 a year!

How do independent companies keep their prices so low?

Eversmart Energy offer a free Smart Meter to every customer – this allows us to reduce operational costs and pass the savings on to you. Like many independents, we’re smaller and more flexible than some of our bigger competitors, with fewer overheads and lower operational costs.

We also understand that people’s lifestyles are changing, along with the way they like to communicate. If you don’t have the time to speak to us over the phone, we’re happy to communicate via text, social media or Facebook messenger – whatever works for you! We like to think we do things the smart way.

How do I make the switch?

Switching energy suppliers is quick, simple and hassle-free. You can get a quote and find out how much you could save here.

Video: What is Fracking?

What is fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking” for short) has been big news over the last decade or so. As natural gas reserves are being depleted around the world, this once expensive and complicated energy source is becoming increasing more viable, attractive and profitable.

It’s also a highly controversial technique, with well-documented potential implications to the environment and public health.

The short video below is from the excellent Kurzgesagt Youtube channel. Using animation and simple language, it explains what fracking is, how it works, the risks and the potential benefits. If you’ve ever felt confused by the whole fracking debate, it’s well worth a watch.

What do you think about fracking? Do the rewards outweigh the risks? Leave a comment below!