EV charger points not keeping up with Electric Vehicle ever expanding capabilities

going through ht emountains was an education to the pros and cons of an EV. the fact that i seems to be watching the range read out so much showed i was suffering from the dreaded range anxiety. but the car was fine! Snowdon in the back-ground

Going through the mountains was an education to the pros and cons of an EV. The fact that I seemed to be watching the range readout so much that I showed I was suffering from the dreaded range anxiety. But the car was fine! Snowdon in the back-ground and the Renault Zoe 40 in the foreground

Yesterday I got to play with the latest generation of 200 mile plus of affordable electric vehicles. Namely the new Renault Zoe 40 (40 referring to the KWh size of the battery storage) This year will see the next generation of electric vehicles coming out. We are now moving to vehicles which could cross Wales North to South (ish) I was undertaking a trial with the BBC Wales news demonstrating the lack of fast chargers in the middle of Wales. The National Trust are doing their bit with 32 amp (7kw) medium chargers but this is both to support our conservation work in terms of encouraging people to consider lower carbon transport but also to offer a new service at our visitor properties and quite a few beaches around Wales. A couple of strategically positioned rapid chargers in the middle of Wales would get rid of the ...ish bit in terms of driving from North to South but at up to £10k each this is an infrastructural decision to be taken by a local authority or a Utility company. Thanks to Renault Cars and the ‘Go Ultra Low’ campaign I got to try out one of these 200 mile vehicles from home to Llanerchaeron in Ceredigion (110 miles from home) I started off with an 85% charge and arrived with 24% remaining. I had decided to go through the mountains which was an education in itself. I was losing 12 miles in range going up the passes (over 2 miles) and then gaining 9 miles more range on the way down through charging the system on the car. After a few mountain passes under my belt i got used to the + and – of the system. The more I researched the more I saw that new vehicle sales and their capabilities is far out stripping the changing network expansion but the market will react… hopefully in quick succession and thanks to the OLEV scheme there is some serious support to make this happen. I have a feeling that the air quality concerns will give added impetus to make this happen globally

see the difference between cars vs charing network. the network are mostly urban  but will have to much wider simply because the EV cars can now reach beyond the EV charhing networks

see the difference between cars vs charging network. The network is mostly urban but will have to be much wider, simply because the EV cars can now reach beyond the EV charging networks

My slow charger at home did fine when i got back as it had over night to charge. I live about 4 miles from a rapid charger on the A55

My slow charger at home did fine when i got back as it had overnight to charge. I also live about 4 miles from a rapid charger on the A55

the car was the star for the day. It did all that i asked it to do but the network of chargers in the west of Wales plus in the middle bit is quite thin on the ground. this is the 7kw charger at NT Llanerchaeron

The car was the star for the day. It did all that I asked it to do but the network of chargers in the west of Wales plus in the middle bit is quite thin on the ground. This is the 7kw charger at NT Llanerchaeron

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Moors Law and Buckminster come to play on LED

The Chirk lantern with its three year old LED

The Chirk lantern with its three-year old LED looking resplendent if a little out-dated… but let’s leave this as it is for now

Moors Law roughly translates as computer processing power doubling every two years and Buckminster Fuller Curve predicts that human knowledge will double every two years give or take …and according to IBM when the internet of things gets into its stride this couple of years could be every 12 hours. Well… for those following the blog have seen our quest for better and better for LED lighting the fast improvements in performance, efficiency and even look of LED lighting seem to be on the same curves

this simple chart is already out of date with 150 lumens per watt now normalised and CREE claiming to have reached 300 lumen per watt

this simple chart is already out of date with 150 lumens per watt now normalised and CREE claiming to have reached 300 lumen per watt which in the above comparison would mean a 1600 lumen output can be reached with 11 or 5.5watts of energy input. I wonder what 2 years from now would look like? (bright I take it!)

The National Trust across Wales is revising its lighting and looking at those difficult to treat areas where LED tech was not up to scratch especially in the small and intimate lighting plus the overall gain over flourescent have reached such a stage as it’s now worth changing. Its survey, survey, survey at the moment to build the case for another mass change. We are working with European Lamp Group to work on the best solutions from the new generation of filament LED through to the smallest intimate candle bulb for a C18 sconce on wooden paneled room. the pace of tech development is jaw dropping. I think we have a lamp for all occasions and if not it’s not too onerous now to develop a new bulb.

this graph is allready looking quite old. the bench mark used to be set by socium lamps whih ironically are one the olders electrical light emitteds around dating back to

I have borrowed this graph but it is is already looking quite old. the bench-mark used to be set by sodium lamps which ironically are one the oldest electrical light emitters around dating back to 1930 for LPS and 1955 for the HID lamp and we are now passed the 150 lumens already for LED

But I have not forgotten why we do this! We are looking after the landscapes captured by the image below for future generations. Use less, Use better and then make your own (energy that is)

this was last sunday looking at Gallt y Wenallt on Snowdon with a temperature inversion in the valley. I am lucky!

This was a week  last Sunday looking on Gallt y Wenallt on Snowdon with a temperature inversion in the valley. I am lucky!

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Generating opportunities

Elin from our valley with the King of Spain and the Spanish Minister of Education. Thanks partly to a community having a go and not sitting back and saying t'he world is unfair' but doing something about it!

Elin from our valley with the King of Spain and the Spanish Minister of Education. Thanks partly to a community having a go and not sitting back and saying ‘the world is unfair’ but doing something about it!

I have been spouting on and on about KW. Well the process of making KW’s with renewables also generates opportunities and not necessarily from the money. Several of the community energy companies I work with are now employing local people to run various aspects of projects or just the day-to-day operation. One of the examples of ‘opportunity generating’ has been Elin Prysor Williams who at the launch of the Ynni Padarn Peris share offer volunteered her services to the company. The experience of working with us led on to a successful bid for a scholarship from Scottish Power which was in fact presented to her by the King of Spain. (parent Company is Spanish) With this scholarship she is now studying a Master’s Degree in Energy Management in Strathclyde University and all thanks to micro hydro on the slopes above the mountain village of Llanberis. Ynni Padarn Peris also found out just before Christmas that The Welsh Government will be part funding a research project (A PhD no less) looking into the real social benefit of distributed energy and especially that of community energy. Saying that energy generation helps communities is one thing but we are looking for hard peer-reviewed facts to share with the world and hope carry on this success story of local generation. In fact we also find out in March if we have been successful with our Big Lottery bid… many, many more opportunities to make a difference.

It’s more than energy. Sustainability, opening up opportunities, creating possibilities, confidence… oh and saving the planet!

this is the landscape 'after' the hydro has been installed above Llanberis. Just in case you think that opportunities cost more than we think!

this is the landscape ‘after’ the hydro has been installed above Llanberis. Just in case you think that opportunities cost more than we think! Rogue traffic cone not owned by the community hydro!

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Keeping Tranmer Toasty with Biomass

In the East of England, we’re progressing well with the introduction of more renewable systems and getting off oil and other fossil fuels. Our renewables Project Manager, Dee Nunn, tells us about the new biomass boiler at Sutton Hoo…

Boiler house at sunset (taken by volunteer Sarah Haille)

Boiler house at sunset (taken by volunteer Sarah Haille)

This winter, Tranmer House – part of the Sutton Hoo Estate by the Suffolk coast – has ditched fossil fuels with the installation of our new biomass boiler.

Tranmer House was the home of Mrs Edith Pretty when, in 1938, she enlisted the help of local archaeologist Basil Brown to excavate the mysterious mounds she could see from her window. The excavation uncovered an Anglo Saxon ship burial – one of the richest burial sites ever found in Northern Europe!

The Anglo Saxons would have had little choice but to use wood fires to keep themselves warm but Tranmer House has moved to wood fuel in a much more high tech way!

Running on sustainable wood pellets, the boiler has been installed into an outbuilding thought to have been a former coal store. We had to make a few subtle changes to the building to convert it to a biomass plant room including adding a new chimney specially designed to match the existing one and the addition of delivery pipes for the pellet to be blown into our 16 tonne fuel store.

False chimney is lifted into place

False chimney is lifted into place

Unfortunately the Sutton Hoo estate does not produce enough wood to allow us to grow our own fuel like we are doing at other properties in the Trust such as Ickworth house. Our pellet will be sourced from sustainably managed woodlands in the UK and, because pellet is much denser than wood chip, we can minimise the number of deliveries we will need each year reducing the fuel used to transport it.

Our forklift driver needed a very steady hand to ease the boiler through a tight doorway into the plant room

Our forklift driver needed a very steady hand to ease the boiler through a tight doorway into the plant room

1.	Wood pellets are fed from the fuel store into the boiler combustion chamber using a screw auger where the fire is automatically started and maintained. 2.	Water is passed through a heat exchanger over the combustion chamber which absorbs heat. 3.	The water is stored in massive thermal stores which hold a 4400 litres of hot water up to 85C. 4.	When heat or hot water is required in each of the five separate heating zones in the house the control systems open valves and run pumps to transfer heat to the relevant heat exchangers through an underground heat main. 5.	The boiler automatically clears its ash into two metal boxes and will email us when they need emptying.

1. Wood pellets are fed from the fuel store into the boiler combustion chamber using a screw auger where the fire is automatically started and maintained.
2. Water is passed through a heat exchanger over the combustion chamber which absorbs heat.
3. The water is stored in massive thermal stores which hold 4400 litres of hot water up to 85C.
4. When heat or hot water is required in each of the five separate heating zones in the house, the control systems open valves and run pumps to transfer heat to the relevant heat exchangers through an underground heat main.
5. The boiler automatically clears its ash into two metal boxes and will email us when they need emptying.

Our biomass boiler is the second phase of the renewables programme at Sutton Hoo following the installation of 174 solar panels to the visitor centre roofs in January 2016.

around half of the electricity required by the visitor centre is generated by the PV panels

Around half of the electricity required by the visitor centre is generated by the PV panels

The installation was part of a corporate partnership arrangement between the National Trust and Panasonic.  Having been in place for nearly a year, these panels have exceeded our expectations generating over 48MWh of electricity – that’s the equivalent of the average annual electricity consumption of 14 UK homes.

Sutton Hoo is challenging itself to heat even more of the estate with renewables – watch this space in 2017!

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Energy Market going through some rough seas. Good for selling bad for buying

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-21-50-41It’s been an interesting few months in the export business (generated electricity that is). The first of the predicted energy supply companies went to the wall this week. GB Energy had 150,000 customers (including my father in law!) and the press are hinting that this is the first of a few more who don’t have the reserves or contracted generation to supply energy at fixed low rates.

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-22-04-08On the flip side with such uncertainty in the market, sellers / generators of energy such as anything over 30kw with a half hour meters are being killed in the rush in terms of who can offer the highest figure for export from the suppliers. Last week we were offered over 9p per kWh at peak (after 5pm and before 8pm) this is a huge leap as the above graph which illustrates the last few years in terms for quotes we have received. The reasons are many and both global and local (20% of the French nuclear stations are off undergoing new safety inspections and we get quite a bit of this) The amount of spare capacity we have in the UK in terms of ‘what if ‘scenarios are at their lowest for many years and many of our old coal-fired power stations are very old indeed. This morning I read that the French interconnector (one of the cables we have connecting us the mainland Europe is running at half-capacity for the next three months because of damage) It makes for an interesting cocktail for National Grid to keep the lights on. The lights wont go off but the balancing charges (what it costs to deal with winter emergencies such as buying in from lots of Irish Diesel generation) will be very high and thus our domestic bills will also go up. We lack a coherent plan as a country to get out of this hole. Switching big consumers off and paying them a small fortune for the privilege is not really the answer. Everyone is talking about flexibility but it is yet to be seen at a country level. meanwhile the rollercoaster of the energy market keeps on making some very rich and bankrupting others but now much quicker because the margins are so fine

Brent crude prices which are closely linked to energy costs are up but not by much but what this hides is that the pound has dropped by around 18% and crude is traded in dollars. more  cost increases on energy

Brent crude prices which are closely linked to energy costs are up but not by much but what this hides is that the pound has dropped by around 18% and crude is traded in dollars. more cost increases on energy on the way. The winners will be energy generators. the losers will be you and me!

From National Grid. We only have 1.1% spare capacity at peak this winter! ‘National Grid predicted a capacity margin of 1.1 per cent during peak hours this winter, rising to 6.6 per cent once of the Supplemental Balancing Reserve. However, both these figures assumed 2 GW of net imports from continental Europe, partly through the damaged French interconnector.’ Not a way to run a country!

We have to make more renewable energy and support the on-doing development rather than the current dwarfing renewable energy support with the money going to mend and make-do of demand side management



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Climate change mitigation and getting off oil. Latest installment!

The Welsh Governemnts Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee with the brains (project manager) behind the new Penrhyn Castle Biomass centre Elgan Roberts

The Welsh Government’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee  together with the brains (project manager) behind the new Penrhyn Castle Biomass centre Elgan Roberts (in red on the left)

Thursday was a good day. we were invited by the Climate Change Environment and Rural Affairs Committee in Welsh government to show our plans, discussions and projects and so on Wednesday we had an NT and partners day. The weather was superb (cold, snow on the peaks and sunny) the 7 Assembly members of the committee visited a National Trust tenanted farm to see and discuss the future of the uplands, which is very pertinent given all the uncertainties. What do we want the uplands to do for us? there was a good couple of sessions organised by the local farmers, RSPB and ourselves. Plenty food for thought. Abandonment will give us one outcome, stewardship will give us another. From here we went to Bwthyn Ogwen for lunch and an orientation to the Ogwen Valley. We were discussing the new heating system for the centre, the use and further partnerships in the development of Bwthyn Ogwen, which is primarily to get young people up into the mountains.

It was an early start to the day. Live interviews early morning for BBC Good Moring Wales and BBC Post Cyntaf. this is me looking serious and thinking 'i must brush the floor'!

It was an early start to the day. Live interviews early morning for BBC Good Morning Wales and BBC Cymru Post Cyntaf. I was discussing renewables and the National Trust. This is me looking serious and thinking ‘I must brush the floor’!

Down the valley to meet the Community of Bethesda developing the Ogwen Hydro (Ynni Ogwen) and Energy Local supply system. (we also had Ynni Padarn Peris and Anafon community hydro representatives there as well.) Sharing what we had learnt. The 100kw low head hydro is now more than 50% complete. Gwyn Roberts the contractors were in fact slate roofing the powerhouse when we visited and also fusion welding the 900mm penstock (supply pipe). The Assembly Members were in receive and questioning mode in terms of how difficult renewable energy systems are to develop and also how things could be made more streamlined

It was a 'fresh' day in the Ogwen valley with the Committee.  We all agreed that climate change is here now and we have yet to really grab hold of the subject across Wales.

It was a ‘fresh’ day in the Ogwen valley with the Committee. We all agreed that climate change is here now and we have yet to really grab hold of the subject across Wales.

End of the day was in Penrhyn Castle to officially open the new 300kw biomass system at the castle. But also to recognise the fact that this was the last major oil use property in National Trust Wales to ‘get off oil’ thanks to the National Trust Renewable energy Investment program and especially because of the skills of the project manager Elgan Roberts. We have a stunning building made from the timber at the property and burns fuel from less than 15 miles away.

Sian Gwenllian the Arfon Assembly member pressing the red button to get the flames going on the biomass. Elgan showing off his new buttons!

Sian Gwenllian the Arfon Assembly member pressing the red button to get the flames going on the biomass. Elgan showing off his new buttons!

Fast feed biomass auger system flanked by an Elgan Roberts and a Huw Irraca-Davies AM. 'Nice Auger!'

Fast feed biomass auger system flanked by an Elgan Roberts and a Huw Irranca-Davies AM. ‘Nice Auger!’

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MOPs, Triads, LEC’s, REGOs and other such weird terms. Selling your generated energy… simple. Hah!

syzygy_energyimportexport_artworkThe following is what I understand of the energy market by dabbling at the periphery. Now that you’re making electricity you decide to move out of the guaranteed minimum value, set by the government for all generators under the Feed in Tariff scheme. This is currently 4.92p per kwh and is actually not too bad based on the quite low whole cost in the market for the last 5 or so months. The price is currently mildly skyrocketing. But if you have a larger than 30kw system and have such a thing as an export meter or have gone the whole hog and probably around £500 per annum in charges for managing your data, you have half hour meter. (which provides the lingua franca for energy data in the UK) Energy is split in 48 units each of half hour and each one has a slightly different value. (the energy before and after Coronation Street is worth so much more than at three a.m. energy) but you want to sell of your energy! You ask for a quote from various companies. The first thing which strikes you is that they all quote slightly differently for example one companies peak price (the Coronation Street energy) stops by 8pm and another one goes on to 12:00 am. Some do five-day Corrie’ price whereas others do seven days. You will have 12 months of your production data and so can see when and how much (you might have peak and off-peak, winter and summer, weekend and weekday prices to compare and all of the combinations of these variables) lots of data crunching to get a wholesale price. Some suppliers build in the embedded benefits into the wholesale. Woooaah… what are embedded I hear you say? These are payments distribution-connected generators can earn from reducing network usage I took the following from the Elexon website of how the charging system works for these benefits

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-18-34-11

I’m glad that’s nice and clear now! Another Hah! There are also ‘use of systems charges’. You get paid or you get invoiced (depends where you are in the system and when you connected in terms of grid reinforcement or upgrading) Triad payments for generating for a specific time when the grid is stressed and also climate change payments under the Levy exemption certificate and then REGO’s. I’m not going to teach how the electricity charging market works (not sure I fully understand it myself) the main focus is how do you get the best price and how you compare like with like especially when there is no consistency in quoting, management fees (watch out for this one), pass through percentages for benefits (what % of the embedded is passed on to you and what the supplier keeps as commission) and the list goes on. Do you use a broker to take care of it (not a good financial experience to date on this as we seem to be getting better prices if we ‘nose to grindstone’ ourselves or you have the time. The answer? Not sure. Currently working with a few people  to see if we can do some form of comparison tool. the problem is that some quotes only last for a few hours as it’s such a dynamic place out there in planet energy market at the moment. we have just received a peak price in excess of 9 pence per kwh from one supplier who is probably nervous of having to pick up hefty imbalance charges this winter as there is a some doubt on the amount of electricity available and all it takes is one of the big embedded generators to go off for an hour or so in Dec to Feb and a lot of money changes hands very quickly. Work in progress!

ps MOP’s as well as cleaning the floor are Meter Opperators

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