Electric vehicles come out in their hordes at Geneva Motor Show

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Car makers are hot on the heels of Tesla as more and more electric vehicles are rolled out at the Geneva International Motor Show. The attempts to compete show the recognition of the importance of this disruptive shift in the transportation world. Low emission and autonomous vehicles are going to be the future of automobiles.

 

However, not all was rose-tinted for European carmakers as Donald Trump’s threat to slap tariffs on manufacturers lingered in the air. This came as the result of what looked set to become a trade war between the U.S and EU.

 

In other news, German car giants Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW have taken the opportunity to show off their new high-tech developments. This comes despite issues with legal attempts to ban diesel vehicles in German cities and a scandal involving lab monkeys and exhaust fumes.

 

Themes of the show were as follows.

 

Electric and Autonomous

 

This is the biggest trend in the automotive industry. Currently, manufacturers are racing one another to develop affordable and functional technologies that can be rolled out to the public. While a number of the cars on show, including the I.D. Vizzion, are simply concepts, there were a number of other models ready to go on sale. This includes the Jaguar I-Pace, which can travel 310 miles off one battery charge.

 

Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai have also joined in and unveiled electric vehicles. Meanwhile BMW and Jaguar attempted to claw back some sales that were stolen away by Tesla in the luxury car-making industry.

 

When it comes to changes in the industry, there is a lot to talk about vis-à-vis electric vehicles. And, it’s not just the cars themselves that are changing. Cities are looking at how to adapt to a potential influx of electric vehicles. Various car-makers are making plans to install a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. The companies hope that this will encourage more people to invest in an electric car and not be put off by the idea that they won’t be able to use it for long distances. These charging stations could fill a car battery in as little as 15 minutes.

 

Automakers are being compelled by national governments to propel vehicles with something other than combustion engines in order to comply with new efforts to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. This has been compounded by a ruling that German cities can, if they choose, ban diesel vehicles.

 

Stand Against Animal Cruelty

 

Volkswagen has been condemned for its experiments in 2014 in which it exposed macaque monkeys to diesel exhaust in a lab in New Mexico. All three German automakers, BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler, are investigating into how these tests were allowed to happen.

 

Repeat Vehicles

 

A number of important cars that were revealed at the show had already been unveiled at previous automobile launches. This includes the new Mercedes Benz A class, which was shown to the public the month previous in Amsterdam. This new vehicle has voice controlled operations, much like Amazon’s Alexa.

 

Sky-High Prices

 

If you are thinking you might like to purchase one of these luxury cars featured at the Geneva car show, you might want to pause before getting out your cheque book. Some of these cars cost up to $1 million – not exactly what you want to pay for a little run around!

 

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New Home Energy Efficiency Ideas

There are two reasons why making your house more energy efficient is a good idea. The first is that you will be doing your bit to protect the environment. There has been a huge focus in the past few years on combatting climate change and a reduction in energy usage has been highlighted as one of the key ways this can be achieved. The second reason is that a house with high energy efficiency will amount to lower energy bills. This could end up saving you hundreds of pounds a year – money that could be spent on vacations and dinners.

 

Many people are put off by anything that might affect the comfort of their lifestyle. The good news is that making your house energy efficient does not need to have a negative impact on the way you live. In fact, some of these suggestions can be done with virtually no effort at all. Take a look and see if you can make your home as energy efficient as possible.

 

Seal and Insulate Your Home

 

Did you know that heating and cooling account for about 45% of your expenditure on energy bills? Making sure your house is properly sealed can save you huge amounts of money as it stops heat from escaping during the winter and entering in the summer. Double glazing and inner wall insulation are great ways to insulate your house. Keep an eye out as well for any draughty windows or cracks under the doors, which might let in a brisk chill on a cold day.

 

Use LED Light Bulbs

 

Low-energy LED light bulbs are life savers for people trying to cut down their energy bills. Not only do they use 90% less energy but they also have a much longer shelf life. Typically, LED bulbs last around 10 times longer than average light bulbs. This means you will be saving money on your energy bill and saving money on replacement light bulbs. Win-win!

 

Deck Out Your House With A-Rated Energy Efficient Appliances

 

Admittedly, energy-saving appliances do cost a bit more up-front. However, the extra money you fork out at the beginning will be offset by the energy savings garnered by your new efficient appliance. Kettles and shower heads are some of the most popular low-energy purchases.

 

Be Sparing With Your Appliances

 

Even if you have energy efficient appliances in your home, the less you use them, the more energy efficient your home will be. If the weather is nice, use a BBQ instead of your oven; and hang your clothes out on the line rather than bundling them in the tumble dryer. This leaves your electrical appliances unused and saves you money in the process.

 

Use Thermostats and Timers

 

Thermostats and timers are fantastic ways to monitor how much energy you are using. Very few people need to heat their homes 24/7, nor do they need a constant flow of hot water. You would be amazed at how many different things you can control with a timer in your home. Set your heat and hot water for the early mornings and late evenings so you are not haemorrhaging cash while you’re at work

Tips to reduce energy consumption

electricity-624569_960_720.jpgNobody likes to pay more for the same service or product so shopping around for the best energy prices is important. But there is something else you can do to cut your yearly energy bills and that is by making changes to reduce your energy consumption. It’s better for you and better for the planet.

You might be thinking that reducing your energy consumption would be difficult but there are many easy and cheap possibilities you can act on to start saving money today.

 

Large energy consumption factors

Heating, air conditioning and lighting are often cited as being the main energy costs to small businesses. Recent government figures suggest that energy savings approaching 40% could have been made during the 2014-15 period which would have equated to nearly £4bn. Okay so it’s the industrial sector that is the most wasteful with its manufacturing infrastructure and, by financial necessity, slow uptake of the newest energy efficient equipment. But, even in the office, retail and hospitality sectors there are substantial areas where you can cut usage. Estimates suggest that in these three sectors alone 25% to 33% reductions in energy consumption would be possible.

Lighting in particular is easily targeted although the initial outlay can be high depending on how far you wish to pursue it. Cheap fixes such as swapping to LED light bulbs will make a noticeable dent in your outgoings. They don’t get hot like conventional incandescent/gas-filled light bulbs so less electricity is wasted. Also they are readily available in a range of colour temperatures from cool to warm so can be used confidently in any workspace. Another lighting option to consider would be checking to see whether your offices use T12 fluorescent striplights. If so you could make a 35% saving by swapping these out for T8s with electronic ballast.

If you want to take lighting more seriously then you could invest in a timed and/or sensor solution where the lights only come on during the working days and to allow for cleaners to come and go.

A staggering fifth of a business’s energy bill goes into lighting. Nationwide, we could save over £1bn annually by being smarter with our lighting solutions.

 

Heating and air conditioning

Eating up the lion’s share of energy consumption is temperature regulation. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) needs to be addressed as part of any energy use audit. Some quick wins can be through implementing a better use of timers and effective thermostat settings which will have an impressive impact on your bills. One major driver in temperature management is staff motivation. Making sure your workforce will do their bit in keeping windows and doors open or shut as appropriate, for example, will help reduce your bills and you could introduce some kind of reward scheme for good practice. Keep a good maintenance schedule too by regular checks of HVAC equipment, cleaning and replacing of filters too to keep them performing efficiently.

So we have air conditioning to keep us cool and heating to keep us warm. If you haven’t already, look to implement a temperature ‘dead-zone’ of 50C to prevent both systems running simultaneously and competing.

 

Computers – the elephant in the room

Who turns their workstation off at night? Office computers consume several watts per hour even while idle. If you run a company that operates ten or more computers which are left running overnight then you are wasting a lot of energy. Typical reasons for leaving computers on 24/7 include allowing automatic updating of operating systems, software and antivirus programs. But a simple solution to this is to use a scheduling system that could boot your machines up a few hours before the workforce arrives giving allowing them to update without using as much electricity.

 

Hospitality

If your business is the hospitality sector or care then refrigeration and storage of frozen food requires constant 24/7 energy usage. While you can’t cut corners with food safety you can maximise efficiency by making sure all the door seals are tight and that they are cleaned regularly.

 

The Carbon Trust Green Business Fund

This initiative from the Carbon Trust is aimed at small to medium-sized businesses in England, Scotland and Wales. They can carry out energy efficiency assessments for your business and also contribute financially towards capital expenditure that’s designed to cut emissions. In the north of England a carpet retailer received help to improve their energy efficiency by installing new HVAC systems throughout the business. The new HVAC setup gave more control over scheduling and temperature with annual savings of an impressive £7,000 that will pay for itself in under four years.

 

Summary

We’ve covered the major sources of common energy expenditure accrued by businesses across the UK. There are a range of measures you can take to make significant savings on your annual bills. Some require little capital and others require more investment but government and funding bodies like the Carbon Trust exist to help you out.

 

Bio: This article is written by Emma Hays, who works for Troocost.  Troocost is a business energy comparison website.

The Top 8 Energy Stories For 2018: Are Cities, States And Companies More Consequential Than Trump?

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The world energy news continues to be dominated by Donald Trump. His doubters have hesitated to speak out as there is certainly something to said for going over the nation’s regulatory regime and reconsidering its configuration. However, critics still stand by the fact that Trump’s primary initiative is to undo Obama’s progress and undermine the science that underpins the research relating to climate change.

Fortunately, cities and states are taking matters into their own hands and are backed by American enterprise. Hopefully, their actions will outlast those of the president.

  1. The Trump Organisation looks like it is going to pay out millions of dollars towards the clean up of a polluted site. The site was overseen by Donald Jr. and is known as Titan Atlas Manufacturing. The industrial site began in 2010 and failed two years later. This shows the president’s attitude towards the link between environment and business. If there is money to be made then environmental concerns are secondary.
  2. In January 2017, the president signed an order to launch the Keystone XL Pipeline into action. The project has been on standby since 2008 and there were doubts about how many permanent jobs the pipeline would create. The drop in the price of oil also caused speculation as to the economics of the project, given that it was to cost in excess of $7 billion.

 

  1. In July OFAC fined Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating sanctions on Russia. The breach was considered a reckless disregard for the sanctions, which barred U.S. entities from dealing financially with Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft, a Russian state-owner oil company.

 

  1. Scott Pruitt, an EPA administrator, announced on Halloween that scientists who receive research grants from the EPA will no longer have a seat on the agency’s board. This means that hundreds of independent scientists will no longer be able to sit on the board but it will not stop scientists from private enterprise from doing so. Critics have blasted the move saying it is a blatant purging of independent scientists who may conflict with corporate interests.

 

  1. Trump sent ripples through the world when he decided to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, making the U.S. the only country in that world that is not participating. The aim of the pact was to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. Trump’s reasoning is flawed. He argued that he cannot create jobs and build an economy if he has to worry about a healthy environment. However, the U.S. economy has flourished recently whilst making great environment strides and renewable energy technologies are creating jobs.

 

  1. Trump also ditched the Clean Power Plan and is attempting to resurrect the coal industry. However, market forces are proving stronger than the plan to roll back the proposed emission cuts. CO2 emissions were 18% less than in 2005 according to the EIA.

 

  1. California has been busy creating and implementing a strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels. The move is in direct contrast with Trump’s position. By 2050 the state hopes to have reduced emissions by 80% and it believes that this initiative will create jobs.

 

  1. Cities and states are certainly accelerating the low-carbon trend but it is the corporate world that is making things happen. Companies are listening to customers and investors and adopting technologies that will reduce emissions. Over 365 businesses have signed a letter asking Trump to go back to the Paris climate and Clean Power Plan.

UK Lasts Without Coal Power for Three Days During Warm Spell

GettyImages-540730892-coal-czech-republic-1-1550x804.jpgThanks to a recent bout of warm weather that lowered the demand for coal power, the UK was able to go for three entire days completely free from coal. Gas, renewables and nuclear were all there to pick up the slack and cover the country’s energy needs during this time.

This hat-trick of coal-free days represents a new record for the country and shows that coal power, known as one of the most polluting fuels, is on a rapid decline.

Over the course of history, coal has played a vital role in the UK’s electricity mix. In fact, it wasn’t until 2017 that the UK managed to go an entire 24 hours without using it. This was the first time the UK had gone such an extended period coal-free since the 19th century.

Now, in 2018, the UK has smashed that record with a 55 hour period of zero coal usage, which was subsequently broken again last Monday when the UK passed the 72-hour mark. The country’s coal-free record now stands at 76 hours, which might not seem like a lot but it indicates that a greener future is more attainable than ever.

Once coal had been eliminated from the mix, electricity around Britain was supplied by gas, representing about a third, and windfarms and nuclear, providing about a quarter each.

The remaining amount of electricity came from a mixture of biomass, burned in North Yorkshire at the Drax power station, solar power, and some imports from France and Holland.

This reduction in coal usage came as a welcome relief after the highs that came as a result of the exceptionally cold winter the UK just experienced. In February and March, the unusually cold weather drove up the price of gas and brought coal power stations online.

Fortunately, the cold weather seems to have subsided and the warm weather coming in is bringing with it the opportunity for gas, renewables and nuclear to take the helm and cover the UK’s power needs.

Indeed, forecasts from the National Grid show that demand for electricity this summer will be lower than in 2017. Minimum demand will go as low as 17GV while average peak will be around 33.7GW.

But, that’s not the only good news – experts predict even more milestones to be reached this year. Analyst Jonathan Marshall from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit praises the ever-growing renewable capacity in the UK. He expects to see more records set as progress made over the past decade comes to fruition.

One observer did comment that while a shift from coal would be positive, if it were to be replaced by gas, this could be a ‘false dawn’. He commented “Shifting to gas is likely to make our electricity market more volatile as our energy price becomes increasingly locked to international gas markets. That will only hurt consumers.”

Nevertheless, two coal plant owners have announced they will be closing up shop this year. This will leave the total of coal power stations in the UK at just six, meaning the country could well cease burning coal before its target of 2025.

UK Cold Snap Reveals Country’s Dependency on Gas

5af439badda4c8b0788b457b.jpgThe beginning of March saw temperatures in the UK plummet, with snow falling heavily across much of the country, As a result, homes and businesses cranked up the heating and the demand for gas went through the roof. One North London gas supplier, Cadent, reported that on March 1st, hourly demand peaked at 20GW, which is around one and a half times more than the average for that time of the year.

 

This cold period saw gas demand reach its highest in eight years, which alerted the powers that be to the fact that we do not have the supplies necessary to meet this need.

 

We have now come out of the other side of that cold snap but the problem is not over. Britain must still face up to the fact that it is far too dependent on fossil fuels as a source of heat.

 

Approximately 85% of heating in the UK comes from natural gas. This can be compared to electricity generation, which comes from a mix of gas, coal and renewables. Recently, during the cold snap, wind was responsible for 30% of this power generation.

 

This comparison shows that the UK has taken great strides towards decarbonising electricity but still has a long way to go with regards to the heating sector. In 2015, domestic and industrial heating accounted for 32% of Britain’s emissions. But, Britain is going to need to find a way to curb these carbon levels if it wants to meet its emission targets.

 

Experts are in concurrence with the notion that decarbonising heat should be Britain’s top priority for its future energy policy. In 2008, the Climate Change Act came on the scene and demanded that the country cut greenhouse gases by 80% from 1990 to 2050. The UK is on track to meet some of its short-term emissions targets but looks unlikely to meet them in the long run.

 

To meet these targets climate change executives have stressed the importance of decarbonising heat from our buildings. The problem is that we are used to natural gas. It is what we all have installed in our homes already. Alternatives to natural gas are not very well known and could well cost more.

 

Experts have also criticised the government’s Clean Growth Strategy saying that while the targets laid out are promising, many of them lack detail. However, one government representative said that the government is exploring “low carbon heating technologies with the potential to support the scale of change needed to meet our 2050 targets”.

 

Another issue that is posing an obstacle to shifting away from gas is the fact there is no blanket solution to decarbonising heating. A range of options is currently on the table, including district heating systems. These heat networks comprise a network of hot water pipes that could supply a number of buildings from a central, low-carbon source.

 

In 2016, the government poured £320m into an investment programme, which could support up to 200 projects to renovate heating in towns and cities. However, the total cost of decarbonisation is going to be high and the government needs to be prepared for the necessity of pumping more money in to achieve this goal.

 

 

A Break Down of Trump’s Twitter Attack on Opec

President Trump’s recent attack on OPEC has left a number of investors in a state of shock and revealed a worrying deficit in the President’s knowledge of the state of the oil market.

The attack began when Trump tweeted that OPEC is keeping crude prices “artificially high.

To break down his comment we will begin by looking at what exactly OPEC is doing and what Trump meant by “looks like OPEC is at it again”. At the end of 2016, OPEC and Russia formed an agreement that would limit oil production. This was intended to stabilise the price of oil per barrel. This deal removed 1.8 million barrels per day from the market and compensated for the previous overproduction that flooded the market with cheap oil.

Originally, Saudi Arabia refused to take part in the initiative, blaming the glut of crude oil on U.S. oil production. The Saudis thought that the high production cost of this U.S. drilling would eventually force drillers to stop. Unfortunately, the opposite happened. American drillers found ways to cut costs and the price of oil continued to fall. Thus, Saudi Arabia agreed to limit production and in January 2017, the limitations were implemented.

The next thing Trump claimed was that there are “record amounts of oil all over the place”. Is this true? Not really is the answer. U.S output is at an all time high of around 10 million barrels a day but many oil producing nations are still limiting production and pumping out low numbers. The amount held in stockpiles has also been limited and is continuing to be whittled down.

Moving on we have the part of Trump’s tweet that says “the fully loaded ships at sea”. It is unclear what he meant by this but taking it in the most literal sense, he is wrong. Oil shipped by sea is down 48 million barrels from the start of the year. Storage at sea has also dropped due to the market being in a state of backwardation.

So, is Trump’s claim that oil prices are “artificially very high” correct or not? It is likely that Trump’s tweet is the result of him hearing the news that Saudi Arabia would like to push up the price of oil from $80 a barrel to $100. The increased price would help the planned IPO of Saudi Aramco.

This being the case, some analysts believe that the Saudis may lobby against ending the production agreement even if it is no longer necessary. This could lead to demand outstripping supply. However, if Trump is commenting on the production deal itself, he is alone in his criticism. The world generally concurs with OPEC’s decision and sees it as a sensible way to manage, but not manipulate, the market.

Is there anything Trump can do about all of this? Well, Trump does not have the power to tell American drillers how much to produce, whereas many OPEC country leaders do. Even if he could do this, they are already pumping at an all time high.

Trump has two potential options. He can appeal directly to Saudi Arabia to amend its policy, taking advantage of the close bond he has with the Saudi Crown Prince. Alternatively, he controls the Strategic Petroleum Reserve – a stockpile of emergency crude, and could use this as a weapon. However, this would be an unprecedented and controversial move.