Friday, 29 September 2017

Share of Renewables in Total Generation Looking Good - How can it be Increased Further?

We reached 30% of electricity from renewables in quarter 2 of 2017 - thank you Regen SW for your Graphic of the Month. But this is only for one quarter - the average for 2016 was 24%.

Will we get to 30% for a whole year by 2020, which is the national target?

The seasonal variations in wind and solar PV suggest that what is most needed is more wind power to boost Q4 and Q1 generation, when solar is at its lowest, and wind is statistically higher.Reading from the graph, this would require wind going from around 12% to 18% of generation in those quarters, a 50% increase in wind generation.

You can forget storage as a means of ironing out seasonal variation - a battery large enough to store electricity in sufficient quantity to shift supply for several months would be very big, even more expensive than more nuclear power.

Any ideas on how to shift consumption from winter to summer? More energy efficient homes would help!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Falling Carbon Intensity - Can we Keep it Falling?

As this excellent graphic from Regen SW shows, we have successfully halved the carbon intensity of our electricity supply over the last 25 years.
Much of this was due to the substitution of gas for coal in the 1990's. A further, but lesser drop is due to the more recent substitution of renewables for coal, over the last five years.
But how do we keep this  rate of progress up?
It's not good enough just to say with more renewables - they are intermittent and do not occur in reliable quantity when we most need them, on cold dark winter evenings.
The answer is to shift when we use electricity, away from peak times and into times of low demand and when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.
As a first step, you innovators and early adopters already know what to do... and to tell your friends!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

How Fast are our Consumption and Generation Patterns Changing?

Oh dear, another set of graphs!

The good news is I only want to look at the right hand side one - you can see how since 2013, coal has plummeted, and gas has more modestly increased. Nuclear has stayed more or less constant, solar and wind have increased but are still a very small part of the total.
Here's another perspective - the modest decline in overall demand is accentuated in total fossil consumption - i.e. coal and gas together have declined faster than consumption, because renewables, nuclear and interconnectors have all increased.

For the green renewable line to go up further and faster we will need much more demand side response - so get time-shifting and tell your friends!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Solar Share of Generation in Europe is Plateauing

The share of electricity generation in countries known for their keen pursuit of it in the past, notably Germany, has plateaued.

In Germany's case, at 6% of generation. Sunny Greece and Italy are marginally better at around 8%.
Germany has a moratorium on nuclear power, but this has not caused an increase in solar electricity generation.

There are technical as well as political reasons for this.

It gets progressively harder to increase solar's share of generation, particularly in countries where the supply and demand are substantially out of sync with each other, as is the case in Northern Europe.

The answer? More time-shifting of domestic demand of course!

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Hi , I'm Tom Langdon-Davies from a farm near Exeter in sunny Devon, South West England. I have worked all over the world for energy companies, renewable and conventional. Now it's time for me to see what I can do to raise awareness of the easy things we can do to make our energy more sustainable. Thanks for reading. Please help me by commenting!

After a brief spell seismic surveying around Europe and Africa, I ran the Natural Energy Centre in London - that was back in 1977, and we did it all. Wind, solar, heat pumps, biomass. After that I did a stint at the Electricity Council in Millbank , encouraging night-time battery charging, back when the UK electricity supply industry was still nationalised.
We moved to Devon in 1984, installed solar PV, wood-burning stoves, and I got a grant to put in a biomass supply system at Occombe Farm in Torbay.
Devon and Cornwall are now blessed with more wind and solar electricity than they can use - unless we start to seriously shift when we use it, from times of peak demand to times of trough demand, and also into times when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.
Please take a look at the blogs I have written over the last two years - and comment on them or publicise them. Let me know if I can do the same for you!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Regen SW Remind us of Falling Peak UK Electricity Demand

As I pointed out several months ago, and Regen SW remind us, peak winter electricity demand in UK is falling.

However, the shape of the demand curve remains much the same - in 2016/17 the winter peak at around 5:30 PM was still 7GW higher than the daytime plateau - domestic DSR is still under 10% of the way up the adoption curve.
This is what can make a big difference if we continue to engage with each other. Let's raise the awareness of the issue beyond the 3 million or so consumers who seem to be doing something about it.

The crunch will come as electric vehicles start to push demand back up again - then we will need to flatten the curve to avoid another 2 or 3 large nuclear power stations at a cost of over £50 billion.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Gandhi - "everything you do is absolutely insignificant, but it is very important you do it."

It's time for a little bit of philosophy!
We often think "wouldn't it be nice if...." and then say something that we would like to happen, that would happen if many people took action, but we feel powerless to cause or bring about.
Domestic Demand Side response was one of these for me.
Until a couple of years ago, I did not believe it was possible to get people to shift the times at which they use appliances to reduce UK peak electricity demand.

But it is now starting to happen. The people with PV systems or Economy Seven tariffs are not only doing it, they are increasingly realising the collective benefits of doing so, and the conversation has changed. The word is spreading.

Gandhi went further than this in what he said.

Not only are you only one of thirty million electricity consuming households, but everything you do is ultimately and inherently insignificant - paradoxically this empowers us to take action just because it's the right thing to do,without any expectation of outcome. In my experience, the results can be unpredictable, exciting, and transformative.

Go on, give it a try!