Fully Charged, 2019, LIVE, Robert LLewellyn, Helen Czerski, Jonny Smith, Maddie Moate, Silverstone

Visit Joju Solar at Fully Charged LIVE 2019

Joju Solar will be exhibiting at Fully Charged LIVE again this year.  The 3-day event will be held at Silverstone Race Track from Friday 7th – Sunday 9th June.  The event is put on by Robert Llewellyn and the team behind the Fully Charged Youtube Channel, and will feature all the latest from the world of electric vehicles, and renewable technologies for the home.

We can safely say that last year’s event was by far the best trade event we’ve ever attended.  The expected audience was well exceeded and 65% of those turned up within the first hour of the first day.  When the doors opened at 10am, the surging crowds were more like a Black Friday sale than any renewable energy show we’d ever been to.

Fully Charged, Joju Solar, talking

That’s our stall with the orange posters on the right hand side.  We didn’t stop talking solar, battery storage and EVs all weekend!

What to expect this year

This year’s event promises to be even better; the venue is now double the size and there will be a wider range of activities.  The highlights include:

  • The ability to test drive the latest electric vehicles on the Stowe track. There are an anticipated 1000 daily test drives, but with 10,000+ visitors expected, you are advised to keep an eye on the Fully Charged website for details
  • Over 100 exhibitors. We’ll be there of course, but expect to see EV manufacturers, EV chargepoint industry, energy utilities, and other green transport solutions among the stalls.
  • Our stall wll feature the latest Tesla Powerwall with back-up gateway, Sunpower’s new super-high-efficiency 400W modules, our latest EV chargepoint products, including lamppost mounted ones.
  • There will be 30 live sessions across the course of the weekend, hosted by Fully Charged Presenters Robert Llewellyn, Jonny Smith, Helen Czerski, and Maddie Moate.
  • Our Technical Director, Dr Chris Jardine, will be talking about “Streetwise solar, storage and charging for suburban EV drivers” at 12pm on Saturday

So grab your tickets and come and say hello!  We’d love to talk to you about any new projects you might have, or simply catch up with our old friends and customers.  Hope to see you there!

Oxford, Power Station, Project LEO, local grid, local energy

A Smart Local Energy System for Oxfordshire

Back in the 1890’s a power station in central Oxford powered a local grid that ran the city.  As demand for electrical power grew, many small local networks like this across the country were developed.  However, by 1925, such an approach was seen as inefficient and fragmented, and major review was conducted by Lord Weir.  The British Government created the Electricity (Supply) Act of 1926, which recommended that a “national gridiron” supply system be created. This was the formation of the National Grid as we know it, a back bone of high-voltage transmission lines feeding lower voltage local distribution networks.  One outcome of this, however, was that it supported a model of large centralised electricity generation; many GW of coal, gas and nuclear plants supplying the bulk of our power.

Now, in 2019, the challenges are very different.  With the need for rapid decarbonisation of electricity to mitigate climate change, not to mention the fact that renewables are now cost-competitive with traditional generation, we now have many smaller generators connected at the bottom of the electricity grid.

Which poses the question: is the old localised energy grid model a more appropriate way of managing our electricity system in the 21st Century?  Has the wheel turned full circle?

This is what a major new project, Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire), is looking to find out.

Project LEO, logo

Project LEO

Project LEO is a £13.8m project over 3 years, run by a consortium of Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks, Open Utility (Piclo), EDF Energy R&D, Nuvvé, Low Carbon Hub, University of Oxford, Oxford City Council, and Oxfordshire County Council.  The aim of the project, as the name would suggest, is to develop a local electricity market for Oxfordshire, that supplies its own needs, ensures reliable grid operation, and rewards generators a storage for the energy and flexibility they provide.

Why is this project being developed in Oxfordshire?  Currently the grid in Oxfordshire is constrained, meaning it’s hard to connect more renewable energy projects to the grid; the grid is essentially full.  There are two potential ways to solve this:

  • upgrade all the wires and substations so they can take more power. However, the expense of this could be vast.
  • Develop a smart local grid, where storage and flexible demand soak up excess renewably generated power, to allow more renewable generation to be connected without massive upgrades of infrastructure

Put another way, lets imagine a new massive solar farm was connected to the grid.  In summer the excess power would blow up the existing substations – no-one wants that!  So the first option would be to build a new substation at considerable cost.  The second option would be to find nearby users to take that excess power, which is likely to be considerably cheaper.

Local Energy Marketplace

To facilitate this, Project LEO is developing a local energy marketplace, to control and manage the operation of the ‘assets’ in a smart local energy system.  These assets might include hydro generation on the Thames which could be ramped up and down, or large heating systems such as the Bodleian book depository, which could be used flexibly according to available renewable power. It could also include smaller solar PV systems, batteries and smart EV charging.

Joju Solar to play a part

And this is where Joju Solar comes in!  We’re going to be working with our long-term community energy partner the Low Carbon Hub to deliver solar and storage projects that integrate with the Project LEO local energy marketplace.  Lots of innovation will be required.  For example, currently batteries charge from solar, and discharge to meet demand within the home.  In future, batteries will still charge from solar, but might discharge when Oxfordshire needs it, rather than when your home needs it. This should reduce costs for everyone, and allow more renewables to be connected to the grid.  However, it won’t be easy; devices will need the ability to ‘talk’ to the grid for them to be able to respond to the signals from the local market.

It’s a very exciting step for us – to go beyond simply installing generation and storage in people’s homes and businesses, and actually help create a local smart electricity grid.  We can’t wait to get started.

Further Reading

Renewable Energy, News, October, 2018

Renewable Energy News – October 2018

Recent weeks have seen dozens of stories about renewable energy hit the headlines. We have compiled our pick of the renewables news during October 2018.

12 years left to save the planet

The IPCC’s 2018 report into climate change has warned that if drastic steps are not taken in the next 12 years to curb global warming considerably, the risk of droughts, floods, heat extremes and poverty affecting millions of people will increase significantly. The world’s leading climate change scientists have indicated that urgent action is needed to limit the temperature increase to a maximum of 1.5C, in order to prevent irreversible damage to nature, in addition to climate-related poverty for hundreds of millions of people globally. Carbon pollution will need to decrease by 45% by the year 2030, which can be achieved by improved efficiency, an increase in the uptake of renewable energy, and a switch to electrified transport.

Will new diesel and petrol cars be banned by 2032?

This month, a committee of MPs have urged government ministers to bring forward the target date for banning new sales of petrol and diesel vehicles in the UK, from 2040 to 2032. Their reasoning for bringing the target closer is that they believe an earlier goal is achievable with the right leadership, and to stick to the 2040 deadline will mean the UK starts to lag behind globally in the switch to electric vehicles. Transport is currently the UK’s biggest source of carbon emissions, and car emissions are the primary cause in illegal pollution levels in many of our cities.

UK government announces subsidy cuts for EVs and hybrids

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that the plug-in vehicle grant, which was previously available on fully electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, will be reduced significantly, or in the case of most hybrid models currently available in the UK, scrapped completely, under the new rules, brought in by 9th November 2018. Pure electric vehicles will go from a subsidy of £4,500 to a maximum of £3,500, with potentially a total abolition of the grant for any car after the next 35,000 low or zero emission vehicles are sold. Many have called for the government to rethink this decision if targets for low emission vehicle ownership by 2040 are still to be achieved. However, grants for the installation of electric vehicle chargepoints are unaffected.

3 million EV charge points needed by 2040

A report from Aurora Energy Research has indicated that around 3 million commercial and industrial charge points will be needed by 2040 to support the mass roll out of green vehicle fleets, with chargers installed in motorway service stations, public car parks and workplaces. The report also suggests that some of these charge points incorporating solar and battery storage technology to help generate and provide electricity when needed, could help them become profitable sooner, as well as helping to reduce some of the extra demand on the grid at peak times.

Solar energy setting new highs as coal use hits record lows

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) released the latest stats in October for energy generation in the UK between April and June 2018. The 4.65TWh of solar energy generated set a new record for solar in the UK, with a combined renewable total generation of 24.3TWh during the same period, which equates to almost a third (31.7%) of the total UK electricity generated overall. In contrast, coal contributed just 1.6% in this same period, which is a record low.

A third of UK utility firms are potentially already using onsite battery storage

A survey, carried out by energy supplier, Haven Power, has indicated that around a third of utility firms in the UK are already starting to implement sustainable energy solutions, by already having some storage batteries installed onsite. The survey also showed that some areas of the country seem to have a greater awareness of the potential of using these types of technology, with 75% of London-based utility firm respondents declaring they understood how to sell excess energy generated onsite back to the grid, compared with just 11% of respondents in Wales.

For more information on battery storage systems and how they work for businesses or in residential settings, click here.

Renewable energy news, August 2018

Renewable Energy News – August 2018

The heatwave of earlier in the summer may seem a distant memory for most, but a change in the weather across the UK doesn’t mean that the world of renewables has stood still.  We have complied some of the many ways in which renewable energy has been making the news in August 2018.

The majority of Brits would renewable energy solutions at home

A recent YouGov poll has indicated that over 60% of Brits would be willing to install solar panels and home battery storage systems at their residences if there were greater assistance from the UK government. 62% of those polled said that they wanted to fit solar PV systems at home and 60% stated that they would be interested in buying a home battery storage solution, such as the Tesla Powerwall 2. With traditional energy prices rising again for many this year, it seems that more and more people are looking towards renewable energy solutions as a real and accessible answer to saving money on their bills and benefitting the environment. The results of this poll come in spite of last month’s news that the FiT tariff is expiring in March 2019, with no replacement incentives currently expected to be announced. However, the questions to UK householders were framed with an indication that the UK government would give greater assistance for these technologies to be installed or used in the home.

Facebook going 100% green by 2020

Facebook announced this month that they are aiming to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020, and will cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 75% over the same period of time. They are doing this by powering their global data centres with solar and wind energy exclusively, thanks to a record-breaking year of corporate energy purchases for them. Facebook claim that they will also design or upgrade their office buildings, both existing and new, to be more energy efficient and be powered by 100% renewable energy by their deadline at the end of 2020.

Having achieved their previous target of 50% renewable energy a year early (in 2017 rather than 2018 as originally planned), Facebook cite this latest goal as a continuation of their support for climate action and the Paris Agreement.

It will be interesting to see whether other tech giants, such as Google, try to follow suit over the next couple of years and make changes that benefit the environment too!

EVs in Europe break the 1m barrier

EV Volumes (the electric vehicle world sales database) have announced that the number of plug-in vehicles (pure EV and PHEV) across Europe have now surpassed a million in number, with an increase in sales of 42% compared to the same period in 2017.

Norway, Iceland and Sweden lead the way in terms of plug-in vehicle adoption so far this year, correlating with some strong incentives from their governments and a strong charging infrastructure already in place in many areas.

The number of electric vehicles across Europe is expected to surpass 1.34m by the end of 2018, which will be around 2.35% of all new car and van registrations; leaving plenty of room for further growth as the charging infrastructure improves in more countries and new incentives potentially become available in different nations.

Solar powered ice cream, anyone?

Solar ice cream van

Image credit: Bridgwater Mercury

An ice cream company based in the South West of England have become the first in the UK to fit out one of their ice cream vans with its very own solar PV system. More than a year in the planning and making, the Styles Ice Cream van uses roof-mounted solar panels to charge on-board batteries that keep the freezers, fridges and lights running when the van is parked up. On sunny days, the solar power generated provides 100% of the van’s needs, with a backup LPG generator used occasionally for short periods when the weather is not quite as kind.

With conventional ice cream vans, the diesel engine is often kept running most of the time to provide the power needed on-board, which is not only expensive, but also means the area around the van can be heavy with emissions. The ice cream company responsible claims that the system is saving them around £15 per day on fuel, plus any electricity hook-up costs when they park up at a country showground (up to £150) and they are making plans to roll out solar PV systems to the other ten ice cream vans in the fleet, in the near future.