Cheshire Energy Hub to Deliver the UK’s First Smart Energy Blueprint

The Cheshire Energy Hub has been awarded more than £700,000 of government funding to deliver what will be the first smart energy blueprint in the UK. The plan is for the project to deliver the E-Port Net-Zero blueprint, setting out a 10-year roadmap for a cost-effective transition to net zero which could result in £100 million being invested in the region by 2025. The model created could go on to be applied nationally and exported internationally.

The blueprint will define a local low carbon smart energy system for the Energy Innovation District (EID), the area in the North West surrounding the industrial area of Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, which could deliver cheaper and cleaner energy for power, heating, and transport. This blueprint will ensure a supply of secure, low-carbon and low-cost energy which will help unlock supply chain and global investment opportunities.

Established by the Cheshire Energy Hub the new district will boost innovation in the energy industry. The Hub represents the sub-region on Net-Zero North West, the new industry-led industrial cluster which is aiming to develop the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster by 2030.


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Being one of the UK’s largest industrial clusters, the area around Ellesmere Port consumes around 5% of the nation’s energy. The area includes some of the UK’s largest manufacturers including oil refining, glass, nuclear, chemical production, and automotive as well as large-scale energy assets and research and development destinations.

Largely due to the dominance of these energy-intensive companies West Cheshire is the fourth largest CO2 emitter in the UK. Understanding the danger involved in continuing as they were, Cheshire West & Chester Council declared a climate emergency last year with its main priority to drive industrial decarbonisation in the Energy Innovation District (EID).

Spearheaded by the Cheshire Energy Hub, the EID brings together energy users, network owners, innovators and partners, including EA Technology, Energy Systems Catapult, Ikigai, Peel L&P Environmental and ScottishPower Energy Networks (SPEN) and Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Cheshire West and Chester Council and the University of Chester.

Energy intensive industries sit alongside low-carbon energy generation within the EID, including Peel L&P Environmental’s strategic energy hub, Protos. Previous research conducted by Amion Consulting for Peel L&P estimated a potential 33,000 jobs could be created in the region with the creation of a local energy system.

Philip Cox, chief executive of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said:

“The low-carbon agenda is one of the great challenges of our time, not just for our sub-region, but the whole economy. We see a huge opportunity for Ellesmere Port to become a leading player in the low-carbon sector, so it is incredibly exciting to be working with our partners at the Cheshire Energy Hub on this enabling project which could identify a roadmap for more than £100m of capital investment, the creation of 33,000 jobs, and significantly reducing carbon emissions.”

The total project will cost £930k, with the government’s Local Growth Fund contributing 77% of the funding, and the rest coming from local private sector partners.

Working in partnership with EA Technology, Energy Systems Catapult, Ikigai, Peel L&P Environmental and Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN), current and future energy generation in the area will be investigated, including renewables as well as research being conducted into how electric vehicles (EVs) and new fuels like hydrogen could change the energy market.

Ged Barlow, chair of the Cheshire Energy Hub, said:

“Reaching net-zero emissions is going to require a significant amount of investment in new technologies and infrastructure to decarbonise power, heating, and transport. In the area around Ellesmere Port alone we are looking at £100m by 2025. But for these investments to be made there needs to be a holistic plan which looks at the whole energy system. This isn’t something that can be led centrally. To decarbonise successfully, in a timely and cost-effective way, we need to be looking at local solutions that set out the various projects and enable informed capital investment decisions to be made. Investors don’t want to look at piecemeal initiatives, they want to see a joined-up approach to decarbonisation. The E-Port smart energy system will be the first of its kind in the UK and will develop a model which can be rolled out nationally and exported overseas. This funding is an important step forward and demonstrates how Cheshire, and the North West, is leading the way on the net-zero agenda.”

The Energy Innovation District is looking to work with the government on various issues which include developing heat networks that can support local communities and business as well as providing an electrical micro-grid that connects electricity generating assets directly to large industrial users to provide secure, low carbon and lower cost electricity. They would also like to see hydrogen being promoted, along with carbon capture and storage, as a means of decarbonising the gas network. On top of that they will seek to work with the government to provide a network of charging and hydrogen refuelling stations to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles and to stimulate the deployment of innovative energy technology as well as developing a skilled workforce through work with the University of Chester, local colleges and the Cheshire Energy Hub Graduate Programme

Liam O’Sullivan, SP Manweb director at SP Energy Networks, said:

“Investment in low-carbon, clean energy will be vital to achieving wider net-zero emissions targets so we’re proud to be involved in the innovative E-Port blueprint project. Developing and investing in clean, green energy solutions now will provide sustained benefits to the UK economy. We’re leading the way when it comes to developing the green recovery and excited to be helping play a crucial role in the net-zero transition for the Ellesmere Port area. By working together, we can develop a better future, quicker.”

Is Refurbished The Future Of Smartphones?

refurbished smartphones

Turnover rates of old to new smartphones are slowing down in 2019, which makes total sense as consumers are more cautious of pulling the trigger and spending a thousand dollars over a new model device.

Refurbished Smartphone Industry On The Rise

It all started in 2017, when consumers started choosing refurbished units over brand-new mobile phones. According to the report made by Counterpoint, the global refurbished market grew by 13 percent, which accounts for approximately 140 million products. Back Market U.S. coordinator Serge Verdoux states that the figure could get closer to around 22 percent.

The website Back Market was established in 2014 and handled aggregrate sales of refurbished electronics in Europe. In 2018, the site started handling U.S. customers and discovered the high demand for refurbished smartphones. Furthermore, the site found out that sales for refurbished electronics were about ten times as much as its Europe-based counterpart in the same six-month span.

What Are The Factors Revving Up Refurbs?

In 2016, data showed a forecasted slowdown in the mobile phone industry, more notably the lack of new phone buyers in regions Europe, China and the United States. Companies turned their attention to other markets to compensate for the potential loss of profit. To match the financial capabilities and expectations of the consumers, smartphone manufacturers turned to refurbished as a way to sell at a lower price without losing sales or profits.

The problem with this was that there were other smartphone companies who dominated this part of the market. Competition came from makers such as Xiaomi, OPPO and the like, who dominated with their budget offerings. In the fourth quarter of 2017, these companies were touted as the fastest growing brands according to the Global Smartphone Shipments Ranking and Market Share (

One factor that drives the refurbished market growth is the fact that shareholders are keen on maximizing the lifetime value of smart phones when they realized that there’s money to be had in refurbished models.

Companies Introduce Refurbished Policies and Systems

Profit potential hasn’t been lost with tech giants such as Samsung and Apple. These brands are major players in the refurbished niche, and each one has their own robust platform for collecting and selling refurbished products in many countries. Some of the better known model units that are getting a second life include the Galaxy S and the older iPhones.

Making some headway into the refurbished industry is a wise move to compensate for the loss of sales in the new phone department. Mobile network giants and carriers have been doing it for years, offering rebates and promos for older phones in a trade-in procedure. Increased turnover rate is better for both consumer and phone manufacturer alike, as brands get the revenue they need while satisfying the economic demands of the public.

What’s more, there are various recycling and take-back programs that make it easy to give your older device in exchange for a small amount of cash or a discount towards a refurbished model. Take a look at the following:

Samsung Responsible Recycling. Offers convenient take-back options on various electronic products.

Apple GiveBack. You get a competitive offer for a trade-in. Any eligible device may be inspected at an authorized Apple Store. If successful, you get a refund or an Apple Store gift card for your troubles.

Motorola Mobility. Has a few take back programs with recyclers, retailers, carriers and consumers.

The greatest response came in from Europe and the US, with rapidly emerging markets in India, Southeast Asia and Africa. All major mobile network operators have come up with initiatives to include full life cycle services.

What Effect May The Emerging Industry Have For The Future?

Consumers can look forward to being able to get a buyback for their current device at any point during their ownership. Possibly via manufacturers or independent specialists like Freestyll – which specialises in refurbished Apple products.

High costs of upgrading to the newer models can be offset a bit, which helps improve sales and turn the economy.

Refurbished units will continue to grow as they provide a win-win for both sides. According the newest IDC report, the market will grow up to $52 billion over the next 5 years.

The Switch to Refurbished Has Its Advantages

The lower price is the biggest benefit of buying refurbished. Consumers can now buy almost any kind of electronic appliance, item or device at a much lower cost than a brand-new one. Businesses can get refurbished TVs, tablets, laptops and smartphones and save money for use on other assets.

Buying refurbished is better for the environment in a number of ways. One, manufacture impact is slowed down; two, the less electronic items we buy, the lesser the amount of e-waste we produce. Last, less devices made equal less raw materials used, fuel and greenhouse gas emissions.

Refurbished is here to stay for the considerable future. The benefits it has on the environment, the consumer and the smartphone brands are many and they are all positive. Buying refurbished means you save money and help save Mother Nature as well. For this reason the trend can only head one way- up!

Can renewable technologies affect an EPC rating?

According to leading assessors EPC For You, as of April 2018, anyone wanting to sell a property, or landlords wishing to tenant their property, will need to ensure their property has an energy efficiency rating of no lower than Grade E. As a result of this, many people have been wondering about the best ways to raise their EPC rating, while keeping their monthly costs to a minimum. So, today we will be looking at the effects of renewable technologies on an EPC rating.

In order to best answer this question, it is important to first understand what renewable energy technologies are and also, where they are sourced: Renewable energy uses natural resources which are also replenished naturally, like tides, wind, sunlight and geothermal heat. These renewable forms of energy have to make use of an energy, which is naturally quite dispersed, and so it needs to be concentrated into a form that can be readily used. This means that they do tend to be relatively costly to install, however, once installed, they are usually quite cheap to operate.

Almost all energy, until the Industrial Revolution, used to come from natural sources, although the use of it was mostly rather inefficient. Our modern day technology, however, is able to capture much more of this naturally occurring energy and convert it into readily available electricity. Today we have solar thermal panels, for heating water, we have photovoltaic panels to capture solar energy and to convert it into electricity and we can also use biomass, which is fuel derived from wood or other plants, which are often sustainable crops, specifically grown for that particular purpose. Some biomass power stations even capture the wasted heat from the combustion process and use it to heat homes and factories that are not too far away. This is known as biomass combined heat and power (CHP). We also have ground source heat pumps, which extract the sunlight energy that has been absorbed into the ground – and there are also air source heat pumps available today. These heat pumps make indirect use of the sun’s energy by extracting the residual warmth from the air and then passing it through a heat exchanger, in order to provide warmth for buildings.

Wind is another source of naturally occurring energy, which has been used for centuries for the grinding of grain and also to pump water. Our modern-day wind turbines are used, both on and offshore, to harness the wind in order to generate electricity. Wind power is currently known to be one of the cleanest and safest of all of the renewable, commercial methods of generating electricity.

For thousands of years, people have been using water wheels to harness the energy produced by moving water in order to generate the energy necessary for turning mills and later, even machines. In the UK today, there are very efficient water turbines and hydropower currently produces 2% of all their required electricity. There is still the potential to harness even more hydropower from large dam projects, across the UK.

The UK has an official target of producing 15% of all its energy from renewable sources by the year 2020. Considering that now, in 2018, it is still only producing 5% of its energy in through those means – there is still a very long way to go. There are currently a number of incentives, which are being offered by the British government to encourage British citizens to generate their own electricity, through the use of low carbon technology or renewable energy, like the Feed In Tariff (FIT), which was implemented in 2010. As long as the amount of power generated by an individual is less than 5MW per year, there is a government scheme that offers to pay back a certain amount to the generator towards the electricity that has been used, and also for any excess electricity which has been exported back into the grid. There is also the renewable heat incentive (RHI), which was introduced in 2011 to encourage homeowners, businesses and communities through financial reward to source their heat through renewable or low carbon sources.

There are increasing numbers of reports and studies, which show that the UK is capable of obtaining most of its energy from renewable resources. There is the WWF-UK that claim that by 2030, up to 90% of British electricity could come from a combination of solar panels, tidal and other renewable and sustainable resources, with the rest being supplied by an international supergrid and also gas power stations.

This clearly shows that the British government is encouraging its people to become more sustainable in their use of power. It also clearly demonstrates that renewable technologies can only have a positive effect on EPC ratings and this will hopefully encourage all citizens to help the UK to attain its target of producing 15% of all its energy from renewable sources by the year 2020.

Solar Power: The Quickest-Developing Source of New Energy

Head back a few years and there were plenty of detractors who thought solar power generation was a lost cause. They said its success was vastly overstated and that it wouldn’t be able to survive without damaging subsidies which put too much pressure on the poor tax payer.

In recent times, solar prices have dropped and more and more panels have appeared on land and on rooftops.

The solar revolution, according to advocates, is now unstoppable. According to executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Dr Fatih Birol:

“We see renewables growing by about 1,000 GW by 2022, which equals about half of the current global capacity in coal power, which took 80 years to build. What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV. We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”

What’s Driving Solar Power?

The biggest driver of solar power is undoubtedly China at the moment. Their investment in the sector and their desire to push the envelope has been dramatic to say the least. The fairly recent change in events in the country have been unprecedented.

A few decades ago, China had barely a solar industry to talk of – between 2008 and 2013, however, it suddenly burst onto the scene and was a major cause of prices coming down across the globe in the process. Now China is the leading solar innovator – they understand how important it is for the world’s energy mix and they also see a big commercial profit in it. Not only is solar bringing in huge amounts of revenue, it’s creating an awful lot of jobs.

We’ve also, as many experts point out, gone past the tipping point with renewables. Public opinion is more on board than it has ever been. According to the Guardian recently:

“New solar capacity even overtook the net growth in coal, previously the biggest new source of power generation. The shift was driven by falling prices and government policies, particularly in China, which accounted for almost half the solar panels installed.”

Why Battery Storage is Vital for Solar

The key factor that is set to underpin all renewable technologies, but particularly solar and wind, is energy storage. Currently we have a problem. When the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow, these installations don’t produce electricity. This is definitely an issue with solar, which only produces it’s electricity at certain times of the day. If we can store that power and release it to the grid when it’s most needed, in the evenings, then solar suddenly becomes a lot more viable than tech such as nuclear.

The technology in this area isn’t quite there just yet but there have been some major steps forward in recent times. While it’s still fairly expensive, you can expect the cost to come down in the same way that solar panels have as competition increases and the technology improves. And you can expect it to happen quickly.

The Future of Solar Power in the UK

The solar industry took a hit at the beginning of last year and it’s had an impact. Initial news of companies going out of business, however, seem to have settled down. The cost of panels and installation is now at the lowest it’s ever been and those with the money are still investing. Regions like London, after a stall in installations, are introducing new and innovative ways to get solar installed including reverse auctions that allow interested parties to pool their resources to get projects off the ground.

This summer, solar power broke another record and provided a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs in May. Taking into account all other renewables, a total of 60% of the energy at that time was provided by low carbon technology. According to Ben Warren of EY’s renewable energy practice, the hard times in the last 12 months may well have equipped the solar industry in the UK for the future:

“By ‘growing up’ in the environment in which they have, solar developers have had to be very dynamic and tough. As it moves into an unsubsidised market and this uncertainty drifts away, it provides a much more sustainable platform on which to build these businesses rather than being purely responsive.”

For many, we’re at the start of an energy revolution that will transform how we generate power across the globe. Solar’s part in that is almost assured.

Scotland Bans Fracking: The First Country To Do So

There is no more divisive sector in energy production as fracking. Attempts to introduce it across the UK has encountered widespread opposition from local residents and activists. Now, Scotland has essentially banned fracking after a consultation that found public opinion largely against the energy extraction process.

According to campaign head for Friends of the Earth in Scotland, Mary Church:

“This is a victory for the environment and for local communities fighting fracking. This is a huge win for the anti-fracking movement, particularly for those on the frontline of this dirty industry here in Scotland, who have been working for a ban these last six years.”

What is Fracking?

While many people are aware of fracking, as well as the controversy behind, a large percentage admit to being ill-informed about what it is in reality.

There is a large supply of natural gas underneath the ground but it’s difficult to extract. Fracking is a process where we drill down into the earth and then use high pressure water, sand and chemicals which work to release the gas inside. It’s proved popular and profitable in countries like the USA but it hasn’t been without it’s controversies.

Why Is It So Divisive?

There are major environmental concerns with the fracking process. Environmentalists contest that forcing water down into the ground releases potentially harmful chemicals and contaminates ground water.

The industry counters this by saying that this is down to companies using bad processes and that this can be guarded against using legislation and best practice. The environmentalists, in turn, counter that there are better, more cost effective methods of energy production such as renewables which we should be concentrating on rather than trying to extract fossil fuels from the ground.

The potential for fracking operations to start work all over the UK has led to widespread protests. It was made worse when the Government decided, in principal, to allow fracking in National Parks.

The Future of Fracking in the UK

Scottish MPs voted to endorse an effective ban on fracking by 91 to 28 in October this year. It came after a consultation found that there was widespread opposition to the process and the belief that it would hamper the Scottish Government’s attempts to cut down their own carbon footprint.

The consultation got around 65,000 responses of which an overwhelming number were against fracking. Many of these respondents were in old coal mining districts that had been specifically targeted by fracking companies. This leads on from a ban in Wales that essentially leaves England isolated. Wales introduced a moratorium in 2015 which opposes fracking and blocks the practice, at least until further evidence comes to light.

The decision in Scotland hasn’t gone down well with fracking companies, including Ineos who operate the Grangemouth petrochemical plant in Scotland. Their contention is that England will now benefit from billions of pounds of investment and jobs through the fracking industry and those north of the border will miss out.

According the Ineo’s Shale Operations Director, Tom Pickering:

“It is a sad day for those of us who believe in evidence-led decision making. The Scottish Government has turned its back on a potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance and lessened Scottish academia’s place in the world by ignoring its findings.”

Others naturally see it as a victory for the environment and there is now a push by the Scottish parliament to have the moratorium enshrined in law. There’s no appetite for fracking in the UK, especially now that more of us want to see renewables given their fair shake.

4KW Solar PV Systems for as Little as £4,000

It seems you can’t go down a street nowadays without seeing at least one rooftop with a set of solar panels boldly attached. More and more of us are embracing the ideal of making our own energy, saving money in the long term, and contributing to the green agenda in the process.

The good news is that, in recent times, the cost of installing solar PV has come down dramatically.

Whereas just a decade or so a 4KW array may have cost you in the region of £10,000 to £14,000, the latest installations, if you shop around, may only set you back some £4,000 to £6,000. That’s a major change in price and something which has been bought about by cheaper manufacturing processes as well as greater competition in the market.

It could get even better in the future. The BBC reported last year on newly developed solar panels that could greatly increase the efficiency of electricity production:

“Researchers in Switzerland are looking to develop a solar panel that can push out twice the energy of existing standard roof panels. The increase in efficiency could mean a rooftop system paying for itself in five years and turn solar energy into a major player.”

And, with new storage batteries coming onto the market and that side of the technology improving, the possibility of becoming self-sustaining and actually producing all our own home electricity is no longer a pipe dream.

The Benefits of Solar PV

When we talk of renewable energy, one of the first things we normally think about is solar. You take the heat from the sun, turn it into energy and produce electricity. It’s almost as simple as that.

Solar has had its detractors in the last decade or two but it is now one of the big players in the energy market. Solar panels last, on average, for twenty to twenty five years and require little or no maintenance during that time. Probably the only piece that will definitely have to be changed is the inverter (the device that feeds the current into the grid and your home) but even that can last between 5 and 10 years and only costs between £400 and £600 to replace.

Despite the reduction of feed in tariffs (the price the Government says you can be paid for the energy you produce), you can still get some decent money back for every kWh that you produce. Add in the savings on your electricity bill because you’re making your own power and there are plenty of cost savings involved in just a small solar array on your home.

The Cost of Solar

It’s not just the cost in the UK that has dropped dramatically. It’s happening all over the world including in the United States and across Europe. Most online sites are currently stating that the installation of a standard solar panel array is going to cost you, on average, around £6,000 which is some 70% cheaper than it was just seven years ago in 2010.

Solar Panel Kits: Are They Worth It?

One option that is beginning to get some coverage at the moment is the DIY installation kit which can be bought online. What it does is provide electricity direct to your home and the manufacturers say that it can save you about £1,500 on your electricity bills a year. With a purchase cost of just around £4,000 that means you could get a return on investment in a little over 3 years. If the figures add up, of course.

The kit contains the 4 kW solar panels, a micro-inverter, roof mount unit and the all-important plug in solar connection unit. According to one UK supplier, Plug In Solar, the accumulative savings over the expected 20 year life of the array is over £30,0000.

Yes, this is fairly cheap and the figures are impressive but there are also some potential disadvantages to consider. For a start, because you’re doing a DIY installation, you can’t get the Feed in Tariff – to have this it must be installed by a MCS certified technician.

While this isn’t a particularly new concept, the sector has been plagued a little by substandard systems and even some actual cons which might give you pause for thought if you are thinking of going down this route. If you are intending to invest a good amount of money, the truth is that just a few extra thousand pounds will get you a MCS certified system that will also provide extra payments through the Feed in Tariff. Potentially this should also deliver a return on investment in a relatively short space of time.

Where to Find a Solar PV Installer

Despite the recent knock to the industry in recent years because of the reduction in subsidies, solar is actually still going strong. If you want to find a reputable supplier or installer in your area, then search our dedicated database here.

Tesla Solar System | Costs & Money Return Expectations

tesla powerwall 2 installed

New products on the market with fancy marketing pitches are sure to make the consumers talking alright, but what is even more intriguing is that which is kept in the dark. There is nothing better than a little bit of mystery to get the people talking. Maybe this was not the intention of Elon Musk, but, by not revealing the pricing details of the new Tesla Solar Tiles, he made the potential buyers even more curious.

Finally, Musk has dropped the details concerning the cost of the Tesla Solar system, and on their website, you can calculate what such a sophisticated solar system will cost on your roof.

Solar panels for a roof do not come cheap. Therefore, a buyer of such products feels more secure when purchasing one with a good warranty. The Tesla solar system comes with a remarkable lifetime warranty which is assuring that their product is durable and will not have you reach for your pocket due to any maintenance problems that might occur.

A Tesla tile is three times stronger and weights three times less than a standard roofing tile. Thus, the durability of this roofing product, which accounts for the roofing material itself, as well as the solar elements, will outlive your home.

The estimated cost of a Tesla solar roof will include materials, installation and even the removal of the old roof. Keep in mind that this, however, does not include taxes, the fees for a permit or any additional construction costs that might be needed.

As calculated by consumers’ reports, for the average American home to have a cost-effective solar roof, each square foot of coverage should not cost more than $24.50. Musk revealed that the Tesla solar roofs cost 21.80 per square meter. Ordinary metal roofs, for example, can cost between $13,00 and $21.00 per square meter. By considering all this, there is no doubt that the Tesla tiles will become very competitive.

When installing a solar roof, you would need some place to store the solar energy to take full advantage of the system. Tesla offers a Powerwall battery where the energy can be stored, and therefore solar power can be used during the night or even at times when the grid is off. Such a Powerwall battery from Tesla will cost you $7000. The Powerwall battery from Tesla is optional but highly recommended by the company of course.

Tesla also offers tiles that are not solar, that will fill in the gaps of the areas that do not require solar tiles. These non-solar tiles look the same as the solar tiles which give the roof all over an identical look. The number solar tiles needed will depend on your home’s electricity consumption. Other factors that will influence the number of solar tiles required is the amount of sun exposure your home receives during the day and how much sunlight the neighborhood receives during the year.

When using the tool to calculate what a Tesla solar roof will cost your home, the roof size, the local price of electricity and the amount of sunlight your area is exposed to during the year are all included. In many cases, the total in electricity saved will be higher than the cost of the solar roof itself.

The Tesla solar roof is most likely to have a return in cost after 30 years. Yes, this might be a long time to wait, and many homeowners do not stay that long in a home. But in a case where you are installing a new roof or replacing an old roof, it is better to consider such a solar system which will turn your home into a utility.

As a matter of fact, by investing in any solar roof, your home value will increase and when it is time to put your home on the market you can return some of that investment. By investing a Tesla solar roof, you will be sure to have a lifetime warranty which can increase the resale value even more. When one chooses the installation of a conventional roof for half the price, for example, you run the risk of roof repairs from time to time as their durability might not be that great. Investment in a Tesla solar roof will save you energy, increase your resale value based on aesthetics and solar power and is an excellent eco-friendly choice.

Other solar systems might be 30 percent cheaper than the Tesla roof due to the spacing of the panels. The Tesla roof panels need to be spaced farther apart which leads to an energy generating loss. This means that your roof will need to be covered with more solar cells which adds to the price. Traditional solar systems do not offer the classy look of the Tesla roof, however, none of them has a lifetime warranty, which overrules the 30 percent premium.

Tesla solar roofs are still not available outside the USA, but it is expected that the shipment of the product will come at a reasonable price. The durable tempered glass of which the products are made, allows delivery to be easier than conventional tiles. As said before, these tiles are lighter as well, and the fact that they are so durable will eliminate the concern of breakage.

The installation will occur on orders that are made on a first come, first serve basis as the installation process spreads from state to state in the USA. When placing an order, you will need to give a $1000 deposit to reserve your system.

With such a beautiful looking solar roof, there is no longer the excuse of solar panels being ugly. Society is becoming more eco-friendly every day, and solar roofs are becoming more affordable. That being said, we are looking at a great future where conventional energy resources will become less needed.

It has already been announced that a more aesthetically appealing Tesla solar roof will be released in 2018. This proves that the current Tesla solar roof is just the beginning of something great and hopefully will be an inspiration to many others in the industry.

Upside Energy: Balancing Peak Supply and Demand for Electricity

An Innovate UK supported company are looking to ease peak-time pressure on the National Grid. By connecting a range of common devices that store energy, from backup batteries to electric hot water tanks – Upside Energy are using the Internet of Things to balance supply and demand of electricity.

What Does Upside Energy Do?

When you turn a switch on, a power station has to work to give you that energy. This means power stations across the country are constantly increasing and decreasing electricity supply. This is an inefficient approach.

At peak times, the grid can run dangerously short of capacity. To meet demand, it will use its oldest and most expensive power stations. This doesn’t have to be the case.

Upside Energy look at the assets and electrical devices homes and businesses already own. These could be anything that stores energy. They connect these devices using the IoT and switch these on or off at the right times.

This then takes the load off the grid to complement the electricity demand. This is an invaluable resource for grid operators.

The Environmental Impact

By using these devices, Upside Energy allow the grid to integrate more renewable energy into the system. The company are looking for a greener approach which pays people to not use electricity at peak times.

They create a Virtual Energy Store™ which they can then sell to the grid to help balance supply and demand. They share this revenue with device owners and manufacturers.

In time, the company want to build an open platform that people use to coordinate distributed energy storage – using it to reduce the environmental impact of the grid. The National Grid’s analysis claims 600 tonnes of CO2e can be eradicated for every MW of demand-side capacity made available.

How Have Upside Energy Evolved?

 “For the first two years or so, we were just playing with the idea. We didn’t really have a company at that stage. When we got our first Innovate UK grant, that allowed us to take on our first member of staff and then from there we’ve grown to that point where we’re now seventeen”.

The most value achieved from the grant was the connections with customers, potential targets and international prospects brought forward by Innovate UK.

National Grid was the company’s first customer and they’re now moving forward working with utility companies too.

“In essence, homes or businesses are our suppliers – so they give us their assets to use at the right times. In turn, we pay them money”.

The company are now looking to grow their team, branch out further across the UK’s grid and globally.

If you’re interested in finding more videos like this, you can subscribe to Innovate UK’s YouTube channel here.

Additionally, you can follow @InnovateUK on Twitter here.

When Will My business Need an EV Carport?

If you think that a carport is a luxury that your business can’t really afford, then think again. Not only can it provide cover for your brand new EV bay but it may also be able to provide valuable electricity to help run your business.

We’re moving more quickly to hybrid and all singing and dancing electric cars now. The UK government announced that it’s looking to phase out diesel and petrol vehicles over the next few decades and car manufacturers are investing a lot of time, energy and money in electric.

The simple fact is that EVs are going to be the norm rather than the exception, and it’s going to happen a lot quicker than you think.

The Future of Electric Vehicles

Manufacturers such as Volvo have indicated that they won’t be making any totally petrol driven cars by the end of the decade. Tesla in America have started producing a purely electric car aimed at the middle classes and the UK government is putting a large amount of money into developing battery technology. Even sports cars are getting the electric makeover – just look at Porsche Mission E.

It may be premature to suggest the demise of the petrol car, but the end is certainly in sight. Within the next couple of decades we’ll all be electric.

What is a Carport?

Basically, it’s a covered area that protects cars in your fleet or for your office staff. They’re not a new invention but they have been going through a transformational makeover in recent times. Not only can they be installed along with solar panels on top, they can be used as EV charging stations which help customers, staff and fleet drivers top up their batteries while parked in under cover. The good news is that you can install one quite easily and they have a lot of advantages. With more and more of us likely to own electric cars in the future, this is going to be an important asset for many businesses.

Do You Need One?

While you may not need one at the moment, they’re likely to become a standard feature for businesses and offices over the next decade or so. There are also a number of excellent benefits:

    • You can protect cars and keep them covered from the elements.
    • They can create additional roof space for installing solar PV which can be used to charge electric vehicles and even power your office.
    • They’re the perfect place to set up EV charging points for both customers and your existing fleet. You can even earn money by charging customers to top up their batteries.
  • They provide a great visual appeal as well as a much needed and valuable local utility.

If you provide a decent amount of parking space, installing a solar carport can make a big difference to your electricity spend over a long period and deliver excellent services and protection to all your staff and visitors.

How Much Do They Cost?

Carports can vary in size and the cost will obviously depend on the number of vehicles you want to cater to and the space you have. You can choose to have solar panels installed on the roof or not depending on your needs but they are increasingly becoming the must have value added extra that many businesses are looking for. When it comes to solar you need to take into account not just the cost but also the return on investment through lower electricity bills and payments through the feed in tariff. For many businesses, the combination of carport and solar is simply too good an opportunity to miss out on.

A lot will also depend on the type of charging you are going to offer. Slow charges that take between 8 and 12 hours can cost just a few thousand to install. Rapid chargers that deliver an 80% battery boost in just 30 minutes are going to cost significantly more, in some cases up to £35,000. The good news is that the Government is offering grants to businesses that install charging points – £300 for each connection up to a maximum of 20.

For businesses that have the space, installing solar carports can be prudent and strong investment in infrastructure and will provide valuable clean energy through the panels while also protecting cars and incorporating increasingly important EV charging points.

What Has the Future Got in Store for Solar PV?

solar panels

We’ve come a long way with solar. From the days when detractors bewailed that it would never work and never reach the energy efficiency levels we need to the present where it’s often difficult to walk down a street and not see panels somewhere, there’s no doubt the road has often been a little rocky.

In more recent times, costs have plummeted and the International Energy Agency has suggested that, over the next 30 years, solar could easily become the largest source of electricity around the globe:

“The two IEA technology roadmaps show how solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16% of the world’s electricity by 2050 while solar thermal electricity (STE) from concentrating solar power (CSP) plants could provide an additional 11%.”

At the end of 2016, we had about 302 GW of capacity installed across the globe and the potential to add a lot more. China have become the market leaders – they currently have over 78,000 MW, having installed 34,540 MW in 2016 alone. If we’re to reach the heady heights that the IEA suggests by 1950, however, a number of factors are going to need to come into play.

  1. More Investment

It’s expected that, if solar PV and solar thermal are to increase, we need to invest some $225 billion annually to develop new farms and encourage installations on rooftops and offices. This is going to be much easier for some countries than others. China, for example, has plenty of open space and the right policies in place to drive huge amounts of growth for solar farm development. The USA has the space but maybe not quite the right policies with the current government. The good news is that the cost of solar PV is coming down even more and it’s producing cheaper electricity than most fossil fuels.

  1. Storage is Key

We keep saying it at the Renewable Energy Hub but energy storage for solar is a huge game changer. The detractors for solar PV have always pointed to the intermittency of the energy production. If battery storage, both on the home and industrial scale, is developed as we expect over the next decade, you can be certain that renewables of all types will be given a big boost. It may be the reason why many investors are now putting their money into different enterprises and why the UK government recently announced that it was setting aside £246 million for research and development.

  1. Solar PV Technology

Another major factor is the efficiency of solar PV cells and how we can make them better. This is how much of the sun that hits solar cells can be converted to electricity. Most domestic panels deliver something between 10 and 20% and the cost goes up the more efficient they are. This is also compounded by the amount of sunlight that is available in the location where the array is installed and the direction your roof points in.

That’s why we generally need quite large panels to capture the suns energy. If Solar PV was developed to deliver 100% efficiency, we’d need only small ones to create all the energy we need. The record so far has been set by a university in South Australia that created a solar cell with 43% efficiency. The truth is that we’re not likely to get much above 20% for commercial panels, if that, at least not in the short term.

What may be more interesting is the cells we are creating which are no thicker than a sheet of paper that will revolutionise how we install panels. They may even switch from the rooftops to the windows, particularly for locations such as office blocks.

  1. The Renewables Mix

Another thing that is likely to change is how we combine different renewable and low carbon technologies in the future. Businesses are already offering the chance to optimise homes by installing a mix of solar along with heating systems such as air or ground source heat pumps.

There’s no doubt that countries will have their own renewable mix for delivering energy to communities and that will depend a lot on resources, size and infrastructure. How these all work together to deliver on energy needs is one of the challenges that governments, local authorities and utility companies face in the near future. Companies such Eon are already moving into the area of solar installations in the UK, for example, and you can expect others to follow if this is successful.

Finally, the old gripes about solar seem to have all but disappeared. It’s too inefficient? Recent developments have shown that no longer to be true. It’s too costly? The prices have plummeted in the last five years. The future for solar looks bright, though there are obviously some more hurdles to overcome, particularly in locations such as the UK where government policy has been a little indifferent to say the least over the last three years.

Find out about solar PV on our main site.