The Anonymous Widower

Are Electric Cars The Way Forward?

They may well be, but judging by the reports from California about Tessla, it would appear that they are a long way away. This report from the BBC talks about the fires the cars are suffering. This is the first two paragraphs.

Battery fires in Tesla Model S electric cars have prompted an investigation by the US government’s auto safety agency.

Fires broke out in two cars in the US after debris hit the undercarriage, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

But just as with the Boeing Dreamliner, the batteries don’t seem to be up to the job.

As an Electrical Engineer, I believe that electric cars will not be a feasible proposition, until batteries can store several times as much energy safely as they do today.

Electric buses, trams and possibly some trucks are more likely to be commonplace, as their pattern of frequent stops and heavier payloads, may mean that some form of economic electric storage is available soon. Even with hybrid buses, one of the major running costs is the need to replace the batteries every few years or so.

I will be surprised, if electric cards, are little more than what they have been for the last hundred years; an interesting curiosity.

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

More Hot Air For Bunhill

During Open House in September, I visited the Bunhill Energy Centre, which provides heat and power for homes in Islington.

There are now reports like this one on ITV, that they will be taking in the waste heat from the Underground and an electricity sub-station. I would assume the latter is the massive one between the Regent’s Canal and City Road, that provides power to the City of London.

Perhaps they should build a centre like Bunhill close to the Houses of Parliament to heat homes n Westminster!

November 15, 2013 Posted by | News | , , | 1 Comment

Stories About Wind Power

I don’t like large onshore wind turbines, as I believe they destroy wonderful views and the economics are not very sound.

On the other hand, when they are offshore, they are less intrusive and the economics might be better.  But even so the arrays have to be properly designed and sited.

The real place for wind turbines is to provide distributed power to difficult places, where a small amount of electricity is required and running a cable would be expensive.

I’ve not been happy on the effect of turbines on birds ever  since, I read several articles about how in the United States, wind farms kill eagles and other large birds. Yesterday The Times published a similar article about their effect on bats.

I’m always sceptical about the reasons for publishing these articles, as I’m pretty certain, that they are very much the sort of story that pleases Middle England, who feel the turbines will make their house drop in value.

The Times also published a story about a wind turbine on the Welsh Assembly, which is also reported on the BBC. This is the first paragraph.

A wind turbine that cost the Welsh government £48,000 to buy has been generating an average of just £5 worth of electricity per month.

It all goes to show that wind turbines may not be as economic, as their proponents say they will be.

One thing I’d like to see is an open database on the Internet of all turbines, with their detailed cost, subsidy and revenue, so anybody who wanted to, could check the efficiency and economics of any turbine.

Only if that information wee to be freely available, would we be able to know if they were money well spent.

November 10, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Handyman On A Bike

I saw this bike chained to a lamp-post by Haggerston station.

Handyman On A Bike

It’s an idea of which I very much approve. I wish Green Workforce the best of luck.

October 3, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Lib Dems Get It Right On Cars

There has generally been negative reaction to the Lib Dems proposal to ban diesel and petrol cars by 2040. The story was reported here in the Telegraph. This is the first paragraph.

Nick Clegg’s party has unveiled proposals to only allow ultra-low carbon vehicles on UK roads by 2040.

The controversial measures would mean millions of petrol and diesel cars being forbidden.

Only electric vehicles and ultra-efficient hybrid cars would be allowed on UK roads under the Lib Dem plans.

However, petrol and diesel vehicles would still be allowed for freight purposes.

I don’t think they will or should be banned, but by 2040, most vehicles will not use fossil fuel.

I’m not speaking here as a wishful thinking non-driver, but as an engineer, who follows innovations and economics strongly.

Various developments will gradually eat away at the market for conventional vehicles and new ultra low emission vehicles will in the next couple of decades be cheaper to buy and run than anything else.

One thing that will help the transition is in cities like London, where there is a large market to replace the black cabs.  This article in the Guardian describes Nissan’s first attempt. Seeing and using viable and well-liked electric taxis will convince people, that electric cars can work.

However any party that wants to bring in a ban on petrol and diesel cars would be committing political suicide.

All politicians need to do, is provide the infrastructure that ultra-low emission vehicles will need.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Should We have Built It In The First Place?

One of the dramatic news stories on BBC television this morning, is the blowing up of the tower of Inverkip power station chimney in Scotland. Out of curiosity, I looked up the power station on Wikipedia and found an article, which showed how building the station seems to have been an enormous waste of money.  Here’s what they say on the use of the power station.

It was to be Scotland’s first oil-fired power station. However, the soaring price of oil as a result of the 1973 oil crisis meant that by the time construction was completed generation was uneconomical. It was never utilised commercially, with 1200 MW kept in reserve and the remaining capacity being used to satisfy peak demand. It was only used at peak capacity during the miners’ strike of 1984-85, when low coal supplies prompted operation. Generation ceased in January 1988 and although the plant was retained as a strategic reserve, it was never used as such. The plant was finally mothballed in the late 1990s, but was kept fully operational until 2006 when it was decommissioned.

No wonder our electricity bills are so expensive, with gold-plated elephants like this to support.

I suppose, at least a lot of people got a cheap thrill when they saw the chimney blown up.

July 29, 2013 Posted by | News, World | , , | Leave a comment

London’s Hydrogen Buses

London has a few hydrogen-powered buses that run on route RV1 from Tower Gateway to Covent Garden via the South Bank of the Thanes.

I used this route to get back to North of the Thames, so I could get home, after visiting the Tate Modern.

There’s more about the technology between these hydrogen buses here. The buses would appear to be powered by fuel cells from Canadian company, Ballard, running on a Volvo chassis with a body by Wright from Northern Ireland. There’s a lot of independent hybrid vigour there to go with the conservative bit from Volvo.

July 21, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Should We Have Unit Pricing For Energy?

Go back thirty years or more and you paid for what you used with energy.  I’m not sure if you paid a standing charge, akin to a telephone line rental, but you knew exactly where you stood. If you used more electricity you paid more money.

Now it is not as simple and to be cynical, I think the energy companies like it that way, as customers find it hard to compare prices.

So when EDF suggests going back to simple pricing, as is stated in this report, do I think it is a good thing?

Of course I do!

But there is something we need even more urgently and that is a smart meter, so we can see how much electricity and gas we are using.

I haven’t seen any reports yet, but a smart meter connected to a smart phone and then linked back to smart heating controls, must save a lot of money.  Just think of this simple case.  Do you switch your central heating on and off, at the most optimum times.  Without information you’re just fishing in the dark.

But I doubt I’ll ever see unit pricing and smart metering, as the energy companies will do all they can to delay its implementation.

June 15, 2013 Posted by | News, World | , , | 1 Comment

A Mess Of Cables

Cables seem to come with the ability to get tangled. I just had to sort this mess out today.

A Mess Of Cables

A Mess Of Cables

Roll on the day, when everything is wireless!

June 3, 2013 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

A Message For nPower Customers

After my article on nPower’s cheaper tariff, that they hadn’t told me about, I’ve just had a phone call from a friend, who saw it and like me he saved a few hundred pounds by not switching suppliers, but by switching tariffs.

So if like my friend and myself, you get your energy from nPower, it might be worth checking with one of the comparison sites to see if you are getting the best deal.  You may find a painless call to the company, will save you money, without changing energy suppliers and hopefully little hassle.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

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