GM and the electric car… Whats going on?

September 25, 2008

If you ever watched “who killed the electric car” you’ll know the film asks the question of GM… Why did they seem so eager have the project fail.


Anyway, the Chevy volt has returned, and Bob Lutz, the VP of GM, appeared on Colbert the other night. And once again, the question must be asked, if your company just spent billions developing the first electric car to be produced by a major manufacturer, wouldn’t you expect him to be a bit more positive?

Greennav gets a new writer

September 23, 2008

Can I formally welcome Jerry to Greennav. You can see more of Jerry at

We are always eager to hear from new writers… cos… my posts are boring. So drop me a line and hook in!

Smart Meters (Do they go far enough?)

September 22, 2008

I am convinced that a major revolution is about to occur in the way electrical grids operate. I am worried that the groups running the Smart Meter pilots in Ireland could miss an opportunity to be ahead of the curve.

Electricity generation and supply has, since the time of Edison, been about meeting inflexible but predictable demand with flexible supply. This inflexible demand has been met by huge generation plant which is dispatched in synchronisation with the predicted demand. This description of electricity networks is about to change.

1) A growing percentage of energy will be generated by non dispatchable supply such as wind, wave and solar.

2) Microgeneration at the domestic level is going to make demand less predictable.

3) Electricity consumption will increase dramatically. As we move away from fossil fuels in our homes we will use more electricity for heat pumps and for automotive (EV and PHEV). This will result is a doubling of our electrical consumption, even if we hold our overall energy consumption static, by the time we achieve our 33% renewable target in 2020. These new loads will be shiftable in time because of the use of hot water and battery storage.

These three changes will make the electrical grid partially inflexible on the suppply side. To compensate for this inflexibility on the supply side flexibility on the demand side will be required. So I believe that the Electric Grid 2.0 will look like this.

1) There will be a realtime price for electricity broadcast and available to every consumer in real time. Currentlyy the wholesale markets operate in this way. Soon the retail markets will follow suit.

2) There will be a spread between the purchase and sale price for electricity. You can decide to produce and sell or buy and consume at any time.

3) Standard time of day tariffs (STOD) will completely disappear. It will make more sense to have tariffs based on wind availablility. For example on 30 March and 16 April this year the wholesale price profile was inverted. On those days wholesale electricity was dearer at night than during the day.

4) Realtime response based on frequency will be widely implemented across the grid to stabilise short term supply and demand mismatch while price signals are being propogated.

5) Demand response will be mostly automated and not depend on user behaviour.

An unusual visionary in this change is Google.

“I could imagine a smart garage where I would plug in my car and the computer handles it. I could even make money by cost shifting….  It solves energy security, energy prices and job creation… and by the way, climate change.”  Eric Schmidt CEO of Google.   Google and GE have formed an alliance to exploit smart grid concepts.

It is vital that Ireland install smart meters that have 15minute power measurement intervals and can cope with real time pricing and not STOD tariffs.

Even though these ideas will apply globally, Ireland is aspecial case. We will, by 2020, have 30% of our energy coming from wind and we ahave a tiny grid size. We cannot copy others in thisregard. We must lead.

I am afraid that we will miss an opportunity.

Financially speaking, beer is best

September 19, 2008

If you had purchased €1000 of Northern Rock shares one year ago it would now be worth €4.95, with HBOS, earlier this week your €1000 would have been worth €16.50, €1000 invested in XL Leisure would now be worth less than €5, but if you bought €1000 worth of beer one year ago, drank it all, then took the empty cans to an aluminium re-cycling plant, you would get €214.

So based on the above statistics the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and re-cycle.

Smart Meters launched in Ireland

September 16, 2008

As previously discussed on this blog, Ireland aims to roll out smart meters to all domestic users by 2012, providing everyone with the information they will need to manage their electricity consumption better. 15,000 will be installed to pilot the scheme, but I expect these will rapidly increased.

I haven’t got a full spec for the meters yet to tell you what they are capable of, but here is a list of some of the features that have been mentioned so far.

Remote reporting – no more meter reading men

Timed reporting – this will allow electricity to be charged at different rates for different times

Load shedding – If needed, the ESB could switch off some of your non-essential loads (dishwasher/electric car) at times of peak demand

Net-metering – If you have an electricity generator in your house, it could measure the electricity you export to the grid, netting it off your incoming electricity

In my previous post I’ve talked about other features which may have been included, I’ll let you know if they made it in or not.

Finally, can I encourage all those who receive letters offering you a meter as part of the pilot phase to take it. Perhaps you can write a review here.

Which heating fuel is cheapest

September 12, 2008

This is a great post… I just wish I had got there first

Fair play Tom

Arctic becomes an island as ice melts

September 4, 2008

Hmmm… this is very worrying…

The North Pole has become an island for the first time in human history as climate change has made it possible to circumnavigate the Arctic ice cap

Do your part to stop the downturn in the building trade- Insulation your home

September 3, 2008

The other day I listened to CIF, the Irish building federation, extol the virtues of people having their homes insulated, draft proofed and double glazed to improve the energy performance, and of course, provide work for small builders. Well it’s not too often that I would agree with those feckers… but this might be the time. In the old days one of the reasons for not having home improvements done was that builders weren’t available, were overpriced, and weren’t motivated to work small jobs… Well this is the opportunity.

From the point of view of the economy… it’s a winner. In Ireland alone, sorting out the worst 10% of houses would generate 2 billion for the trade… not to be sniffed at… would buy a lot of breakfast rolls and low cut pairs of jeans!


Do it for the environment

Do it for your energy bills

Do it for your economy

Do it for the builders


Insulate your home

Comparing standby power

September 1, 2008

Thanks to the good energy magazine for this one. Considering your own energy rates are probably significantly hight than theirs, factor in you own local multipliers. Click on the pic to supersize.