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.
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%
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
You can find your gas supplier easily using an online service called Find My Supplier.
Simply enter your postcode and it will give you the name of your current supplier along with your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN).
If you’re unable to use to the website, you can also call the Meter Point Administration Service (also known as the Meter Number Helpline) on 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.
Here’s a list of distribution companies along with their phone numbers:
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks
0800 048 3515
Central & Southern Scotland
SP Energy Networks
0330 1010 300
North East England & Yorkshire:
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
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks
0800 048 3516
Northern Ireland Electricity Networks
03457 643 643
Republic of Ireland
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 £400 per month by switching to Eversmart – get a quote here.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 £400 per year by switching to us. You can get a quote in under 2 minutes here.
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.
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 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.
The UK has just gone for a record-breaking 3 days without using any electricity from burning coal. The last time that happened was in the 19th century!
The country was runnng on nuclear, gas and renewables for a total of 76 hours, smashing the previous record of 55 hours set just last week, and far exceeding the 24-hour coal-free period from last April.
Demand for energy dropped during the recent period of warm weather, allowing other sources to cover the country’s needs without having to rely on ‘dirty’ power from coal.
According to the National Grid, gas power did most of the heavy lifting during the 3 day period, providing just over 30% of the total power used. Wind power came in second place with 25%, followed by nuclear at 23%. Other sources (including imported energy from Europe and biomass generation) accounted for around 15%. Solar power came in last with 6%.
Drop in demand
Coal power did experience a temporary spike in demand during the recent cold snap caused by the ‘beast from the east’. An increase in gas being used for heating reduced the amount available for power generation, causing coal power plants to come online.
Despite this, experts are expecting an overall drop in demand for coal, with the National Grid forecasting lower demand this summer compared to 2017, and two coal plants expected to close later this year.
Industry experts are optimistic that we will hit more renewable energy milestones in the coming year. “Ever rising renewable capacity in the UK will see these records fall more and more frequently, clearly showing progress made over the past decade or two,” said Jonathan Marshall, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.