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What is Ecopush?

Ecopush is a new Hi-Tech company dedicated to make the world a better place. It has devised the Ecopush Smart Plug which enables you to control your use of electricity, use green energy and at the optimal time. The the use of sustainable electricity will help you to reduce your carbon footprint and help mitigate climate change.

For you, the Ecopush Smart Plug automatically monitors and controls energy usage and, therefore, the costs of buying electricity from any provider. It will keep your energy bills low by effectively managing your devices and appliances, and ensure that you are helping to reduce demand on the energy network ensuring that your carbon output is as low as possible.

This is good for the planet and good for your wallet.

Smart plug

We have built a smart plug that uses this data to automatically turn on and off your devices, to use energy at the cheapest rates and to avoid the worst times for CO2 emission (and costs).

This all happens automatically, connect the plug using the free Ecopush app for iOS and Android and it will optimise your energy use.

Mobile app (iOS and Android)

The app allows you to monitor energy usage, configure what you want to optimise for, and see price and carbon information for your home. Keep your energy bills low by effectively managing your devices and appliances.

Ecopush will ensure that you’re helping to reduce demand on the energy network and ensure that your carbon output is as low as possible.

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CLIMATE CHANGE: CAN I MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Flash, I love you but we only have fourteen hours left to save the earth”.

What has this unforgeable quote from “Flash Gordon” [1], the 1980 film, to do with CC? Everything, as in a peculiar way it presaged the present climate change crisis and, further, its extravagant hyperbole has a depressingly large element of the truth for our modern world.

Most people, with noticeable exceptions, recognise that the world’s climate change is accelerating dramatically, which will impact catastrophically on all living creatures. “Yes I know this”, I hear you say, “but what can I do on my own when global action is required?” Despite the gloom of not enough global action and the usual political approach to difficult problems of “kicking the can down the road” and leaving the mess for future generations things are beginning to move, so don’t be too despondent you can do more than you might think and help to save help the world.

This blog sets out briefly the problem, some of what’s going on, simple actions you can undertake, as an individual, to reduce pour impact on CC, an a bit about carbon offsetting. For more detailed information on CC read Ecopush’s blog item June 2019, “Can I reduce my carbon footprint?

The Impact of Climate Change

CC is altering the fundamental fabric of the earth itself, the composition of the atmosphere and the oceans. Although we’ve have know about this for some time with the early science dating back over a century, it is the knowledge of the extent and speed of these changes which is new and frightening. Svante Arrhenius, the pioneering Swedish scientist in 1896, first estimated the scope of climate warming from widespread coal burning: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established by WHO in late 1988, after when the “greenhouse effect” enter the international spotlight. The first International Panel on Climate Change was established in 1990, and climate assessments was published every five or six years. The major reports of the last two years has had massive influence – (Wikipedia).

CC is and will continue to affect all living creatures, animals, insects plants and other organisms from the large to the minute: –

  • Changing climate belts: temperatures and rainfall; up, down, less and more, and more frequent major events;
  • Increasing the amounts of CO2, greenhouse gases and atmospheric pollution;
  • More extreme weather: hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons and thunder storms;
  • Retreat of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, Greenland (more ice mass has been lost this year since records began), and glaciers world-wide;
  • Rising sea levels, altering of salinity;
  • Changing habitats for all living creatures, animals and plants.

International Action – Ecopush’s blog item June 2019

The 2016 Paris Agreement’s long-term goal is to hold the increase in global average temperature to below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5°C, which would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change. Also included were: –

  • To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.
  • To review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge.
  • For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing “climate finance to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.

UK Action

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change 2018 seeks progress in the reduction of UK emissions of greenhouse gases within 7 main areas: Economy-wide progress, Power, Buildings, Industry, Transport, Agriculture and land use, land-use change and forestry, Waste, and Fluorinated gases – (F-gases). It has 4 clear messages: –

  1. Support the simple, low-cost options;
  2. Commit to effective regulation and strict enforcement;
  3. End the chopping and changing of policy
  4. Act now to keep long-term options open

Individual Action

Greta Thunberg the 16 year old climate activist has spend two-weeks crossing the Atlantic on a solar-powered yacht attend “Climate Week NYC”, which will take place from September 23 to 29. The event is run in coordination with the United Nations and the City of New York, and seeks to continue to grow as the time and place for the world to showcase climate action and discuss how to do more. The number of events at this years Climate Week run by The Climate Change Group, [2] the international non-profit organisation focused on accelerating climate action, are growing and are set to far exceed the 150 events of 2018.

In April, activists around the world took to the streets to demand that global leadership take climate change seriously. Protesters near Manhattan’s City Hall; traffic blocked in Germany; streets in the Hague’s ’doused with fake blood. In London, Extermination Rebellion activists have glued themselves to trains, attached themselves to fences, and blocked the city’s busiest traffic routes and in Bristol and Manchester. This disruption aims to get the U.K. government to declare a climate emergency, reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and form a Citizen’s Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice. On May 1 2019, the House of Commons declared the world’s first ever “climate emergency.” The Government has since launched its Strategy to cut emissions to zero by 2050, but nothing on the policies and funding to achieve this goal.

Carbon footprint and carbon offsetting

Your carbon footprint is defined by the total amount of CO2 and greenhouse gases that you produced, directly and indirectly, by your activities. It is usually expressed in equivalent tonnes of CO2 generated by your lifestyle, heating, travelling by plane or car particularly using fossil fuels, the food you eat, the clothes you ware, the water you use and how you dispose of your waste.

Carbon offsetting is a way to compensate for your emissions of CO2 or other greenhouse gases, measured in tonnes, by funding a saving elsewhere. A tree is estimated to remove about 7 tonnes of CO2 and, therefore, about 5 billion trees per year need to be planted to meet current emission levels.

There are two markets for carbon offsets. In the larger, international compliance market, companies, governments, or other entities buy carbon offsets to comply with caps on the total amount of CO2 emitted. In the much smaller, voluntary market, individuals, companies, or governments purchase carbon offsets to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electricity use, and other sources. For example, an individual might purchase carbon offsets to compensate for emissions caused by personal air travel. Carbon offset vendors offer direct purchase of offsets, often offering other services such as designating a carbon offset project to support or measuring a purchaser’s carbon footprint – (Wikipedia).

Each offset, equal to one tonne of CO2, sells for about £9 to £11 per credit, depending on market rates. According to the Guardian Newspaper, a typical British family would pay around £45 to neutralise a year’s worth of gas and electricity use, while a return flight from London to San Francisco would clock in at around £20 per ticket. Drive 15,000 miles per year, fly 50,000 miles and stay in hotels four weeks a year, your carbon emissions, according to the Mercy Corps (a global team of humanitarians), come to more than 16 tonnes, which could be offset with a donation of £80, enough to purchase 32 trees.

Ten simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint

  • Eat less meat (the single most effective action you can take to combat climate change is to stop eating meat);
  • Reduce food waste and compost if possible;
  • Reduce the temperature of your heating;
  • Drive less;
  • Fly less;
  • Use sustainable transport – walk and cycle more;
  • Don’t buy “Fast Fashion”;
  • Plant a garden / trees;
  • Eat local (and organic).
  • More sustainable use and charging of your devices.

The best way to reduce your carbon footprint permanently is perhaps to adopt the Mike Berners-Lee “10-tonne lifestyle” as set out on Ecopush’s blog “Can I Reduce My Carbon Footprint?”, June 2019.

Changing one’s lifestyle is not easy, but it is now essential that we give it a go, and you don’t have to do everything at once. Try flying or driving a little less and compensate against these by reducing your carbon footprint more in other areas. Flash Gordon did save the earth and liberated the Universe from the clutches of the evil Emperor Ming. By taking small, individual steps getting bigger, we can do the same and make a real difference.

1. The film Flash Gordon (1980) released by Universal Studios.

2. The Climate Change Group.

Ecopush’s next blog will discuss the interrelated topic of sustainable development which combined with climate change mitigation seeks to “save the earth” and its environment. At Ecopush ecopush blog, we really value your views and ideas on climate change and reducing peoples’ carbon footprint: so contact us and let us know what you think.

Photo by Ivandrei Pretorius from Pexels

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Switch to Octopus Energy and get a free Ecopush smart plug

We are offering a free Ecopush smart plug, if you switch your energy provider to Octopus Energy.

Why we recommend Octopus Energy?

It is the only company, built from the ground up that addresses the global issues of sustainability and climate change in the energy industry.

1) Truly Green

All of Octopus’ energy comes from 100% renewable sources.  It buys energy from renewable sources and its gas is offset with carbon credits.

2) Innovative

The company is the first to bring a number of innovations in the market. These include tariffs that incentivise using energy at off peak times and tariffs targeted at electric vehicles. 

It also allows the information to be free, offering API access to your data.  This allows anyone to come up with their own optimisations which best suits their personal circumstances.

3) The company does  the basics right

It operates as you would hope an energy company would work; for instance: –

  • Which? Supplier of the year 2018 — 96% customer satisfaction (along with – Best Customer Service, Best Online Experience and Best Billing Services)
  • Rated 5 stars for customer service from 10,675 reviews
  • Less expensive as many suppliers

Sign-up to receive an Ecopush Smart Plug –  Free Ecopush Plug

Cover Image by unsplash-logoIsabel Galvez


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What can individuals do to reduce their Carbon footprint ?

We know the world is facing existential global problems of climate change, environmental degradation, including extinction of species, non-sustainable industrial processes, non-sustainable agriculture, over-population, inequality, poverty and famine. Jared Diamond1, academic and award winning writer, believes the world may be in crisis, possibly at tipping point, confronted by these overwhelming problems. This article seeks to make suggestions how over dependence on fossil fuels and non-renewable resources might be ameliorated by individual action. Each person’s individual action through adopting small and simple changes to their life style can make a difference.

It is fair to say that despite that solutions to these global problems already being known, the technology existing, they have not yet have been addressed, sometimes through the lack of resources but mainly through the lack of political action. It is also fair to say that the scale of these problems necessitate huge international action to “save the planet” and that action needs to take place immediately.

It’s not all bad news

It is not all bad news, the UK Government has recently, June 2019, committed itself to legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050 and to bring forward the target of eliminating both petrol and diesel cars by 2040. To reach the target gas boilers for home heating will have to be replaced by heat exchange technologies, less travel by cars other than electric vehicles, more walking, less meat and dairy consumption, and all this should lead to better public health and air quality.

There has been significant progress in the UK in using renewable energy, and  about 30% of UK energy now comes from renewable sources, up from 5.9% in 2010. This is good news for decarbonising the National Grid, and a very significant milestone has been passed  in 2019. So far this year there have been 1,096 hours of “coal free” electricity generation, and only 3.5% of British electricity from coal over the last 12 months, ironically, the longest period since 18822.

Globally, as it stands now, because Western Europe has “exported” most of its highly polluting manufacturing industries to the Third World, to China, Africa, India and South America where now the greatest efforts to reduce climate change must take place. These countries are set almost to double the size of their economies by 2030 and hence their carbon footprints, but that is not to say that they are simply doing nothing to reduce the associated impacts of growth. China, in particular, is making major investments to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels for power, investing in sustainable energy and transport. For instance it operate 98% of the world’s electric buses and the use of electric cars is growing massively but, because of the sheer size of the economy and the scale of the problems much, much more remains to be done.

We cannot just be overwhelmed by the size of the problem and simply do nothing. It is not just about “trade-off” of stop doing something and that is it, carbon footprint problem done and dusted. For instance, “I know air travel is highly polluting, must I give up al holidays abroad: do I sell the car, give up meat and so on?”. The answer is not entirely but yes, you can do something and make some changes to the way you live. Some potential changes are relatively easy while some changes are really difficult, disruptive and so inconveniencing that making the change may not happen.

[1] – Jared Diamond – Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change 2019.

[2] – ecopush blog – How can renewable energy help in the battle against climate change? May 2019

The General Statistics

Nearly 38.2 billion tons of CO2 was released into the atmosphere from burning of fossil fuels, coal and oil – (Nature 2012). The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the world’s volcanoes, both on land and undersea, generate about 200 million tons CO2 annually

The average car emits about six tons of CO2 each year. Burning one gallon of petrol creates 20 pounds of CO2.

The average short haul flight, based on a Boeing 737-400 averaging 780 km/hour, creates 90 Kg of CO2 per hour -(Wikipedia 2008). The average long haul flight, based on a Boeing 747-400, creates about the same amount of CO2 – (Carbon Independent 2015). This equates to about 101 gm of CO2 per passenger km, and because aviation CO2 is released into the upper atmosphere it is thought to have a greater greenhouse effect giving a UK estimate of ¼ metric ton CO2 equivalent per hour flying.

Agriculture is the third largest contributor to global emissions by sector, with methane accounting for just under half of total agricultural emissions, nitrous oxide for 36% and CO2 14 %. Digestion of organic materials by livestock is the largest source of agricultural emissions at 37% of the total and one way to reduce agricultural emissions is for people to minimize their consumption of meat and dairy products – (Worldwatch Institute 2013).

International Action

Climate change at a global level: The Paris Agreement 20163

The Agreement’s long-term goal is to hold the increase in global average temperature to below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5°C, which would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change. Also included were: –

  • To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.
  • To review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge.
  • For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing “climate finance to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.

Climate change at UK level:Committee on Climate Change 20183 – a progress report

The report seeks progress in the reduction of UK emissions of greenhouse gases within 7 main areas: Economy-wide progress, Power, Buildings, Industry, Transport, Agriculture and land use, land-use change and forestry, Waste, and Fluorinated gases – (F-gases). It has 4 clear messages: –

  1. Support the simple, low-cost options;
  2. Commit to effective regulation and strict enforcement;
  3. End the chopping and changing of policy
  4. Act now to keep long-term options open

Progress4

Since 1990 emission have fallen by 43% and 3% in 2017, but the progress across the 8 defined sectors is variable. In the past ten years, as emissions in power and industry have

reduced, transport has become the largest emitting sector of the UK economy, accounting for 28% of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. Between 2012 and 2017 emissions fell

[3] – The Paris Agreement 2016 (Accord de Paris)under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, covers greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance.

[4] – Reducing UK emissions 2018 Progress Report to Parliament: Committee on Climate Change June 2018.

Approximately from power by 55%, waste 23%, industry by 10%, agriculture by 3%, buildings by 2%, F-gases by 1%, but transport rose by 4%. In October 2017, the UK Government launched the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS)5, fulfilling its legal obligation to set out policies and proposals to enable the carbon budgets set by Parliament to be met: –

  • Phasing out the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.
  • Upgrading as many homes as possible to Energy Performance Certificate band C by 2035, including all rented and fuel-poor homes by 2030.
  • Phasing out installation of high-carbon fossil fuel heating in homes and businesses off the gas grid during the 2020s.
  • Improving the route to market for renewable technologies and progressing discussions with developers of new nuclear power, with a view to reaching 85% of UK generation from low-carbon sources in 2032.
  • Improving business energy efficiency by at least 20% by 2030, including through an Industrial Energy Efficiency Scheme and changes to building regulations and standards.
  • To publish a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level at around 2005 levels in 2050.
  • Plant 11 million trees in England between 2017 and 2022 (equivalent to over 2,000 hectares per annum).
  • Deploying carbon capture use and storage at scale in the UK in the 2030s.

The Government has launched its Strategy, it has legislated on certain aspects and it now need to formulate the policies and provide the funding to to deliver and cut emissions to zero by 2050. Much of actual action to deliver the Government’s renewable energy depends on increasing the proportion of electricity generated by nuclear power. The massive capital cost of nuclear power plants, raw materials, safe disposal of waste, the danger of malfunction, security, the decade plus time frames for planning and development, complex political and environmental considerations make the future of nuclear power and therefore the possibility of achieving the targets uncertain. The replacement of Sizewell B for instance is en-mired in escalating costs and political problems, and proposals for a £16 billion plant in Wales and another in Cumbria have been scrapped2.

To summarise where we are now in the UK, the risks of failure to deliver existing policy commitments are high and low-cost opportunities to reduce emissions such as home insulation, business energy efficiency and tree planting are being missed.

What can I do?

These massive global problems but can I contribute to stabilising global warming? Can I reduce my carbon footprint by changes to the way I live and can this be achieved without radically reducing my life style? For instance, must I never eat meat, never fly, or drive a car, grow all my own food, because these may prove so difficult, disruptive so inconveniencing that making the change may be impossible to sustain and, therefore just won’t happen. Yes you can! It is a balance between the relative ease of undertaking any action and its efficacy and by doing the simple things now work toward reducing your carbon footprint from the more complex and harder actions.

The 10-tonne lifestyle 6

Mike Berners-Lee (academic and consultant) proposes a “10-tonne lifestyle” target of causing no more than 10 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year for each person living in the

most polluting developed world. For the average American or Australian and, that’s a reduction of around two-thirds from the current level of average footprint of about 30 tonnes of CO2e per year, taken from a number of studies. People living in the Third World generally produce much less than this and the current global average is more like 4 tonnes.

A year of 10-tonne living means equals 833 kg CO2e per month, or 27.4 kg CO2e per day. No-one is saying it’s easy or you have to do it, it is about your life style and a question of your values. The table sets out examples of the carbon footprint impacts of some common activities and includes some which give reductions. For some, achieving a 10-tonne lifestyle may be difficult if not impossible, but everyone should try.

Carbon polluting item CO2 equivalent per year How many days of a 10 tonne year
Driving 10,000 miles/yr based on the average car consuming about 33 miles/gal. 7.18 tonnes 258 days
Walking instead of driving short trips (25% of trips are less than a mile) makes a saving 1.79 tonnes saving 64 days saving
Cycling 10 km each way each day to work 150kg saving 5 days saving
24 hour return flight. (e.g. London-Hong Kong) 3.4 tonnes (per return flight) 124 days (3 trips = 10 tones)
2 night stay in a standard UK hotel with air conditioning, sheets and towels changed each day, full English breakfast and dinner with imported ingredients. 120kg 4 days
Using a computer every work day 9 to 6.00pm, plus 2 hours at home and at weekends (about 3070 hours/yr), plus about 500kg for average desk top electricity, servers and network. 141 tonnes 52 days
Large cheese burger eaten twice a month. 60 kg 2 days
1 kg of steak 27 kg 1 day
1kg of lamb 39.3 kg 1¼ days
1 litre of milk 282 g ¼ day
1 pair of Levi jeans 33.4 kg 1 day
Cotton t-shirt 15 kg ½ day
Pair of trainers 14 kg ½ day

[5] – BEIS (2018) 2017 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Provisional Figures; BEIS (2018) 2016 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Final Figures.

[6] – How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything: Mike Berners-Lee 2010

[7] – There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years: mike Berners-Lee 2019

SIMPLE WAYS OF REDUCING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

This is not a comprehensive list, but sets out a number of “easy wins”. You can do more and adopt more complex means of reducing your impact.

Food

Food forms 20% of the average person’s carbon food-print and from amalgamation of food writers’ view: –

  • eating what you buy (e.g., saving leftovers and keeping things in the fridge) leads to a 25% reduction
  • reducing meat and dairy consumption a 25% reduction
  • eating produce in season, avoiding hothouses and air freight a 10% reduction
  • avoiding excessive packaging and recycling a 6% reduction.
  • cooking using less energy (use a pan lid where possible and turn off power asp) a 5% reduction

Travel

Walk or cycle more and use public transport. Use electric or carbon neutral cars, which use synthetic fuels.

Home heating

Turn down the central heating 1 degree or more and perhaps put on a sweater. For use of electricity use energy saving technologies such as smart plugs. Use green energy. Use LED lighting as incandescent lights which waste 90 percent of their energy as heat. Insulate the loft, and insulate walls (more complex and expensive) and double/triple glaze.

Waste, wrapping and plastic

Reduce your food waste and compost if possible. Try and avoid purchases being “over wrapped”, particularly if in plastic and try to leave the excess wrapping in the shop.

The issue of waste recycling is now a “cause celebre” of national and international importance and how best individuals can reduce then amount of unnecessary wrapping. Similarly, the question of single use plastic.

Clothing

Extending the average life of clothes by just three months per item would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste.  85% of fast fashion ends up in landfills and as most comes from the Third World, China and Bangladesh, it is shipped using highly polluting of fossil fuels. In 2015, the clothing industry was responsible for 1.750 million tonnes of CO2 emissions (source Pulse of Fashion report). The production of clothing is very water demanding as it takes 10 to 0,000 litres of water to make 1 kilo of cotton, equivalent to a pair of jeans and a shirt (source Wrap report 2017 Instead, buy quality clothing that will last.

Plant a tree

A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of CO2 per year and can sequester 1 ton of CO2 by the time it reaches 40 years old: that is about 2 2kg/yr or 455 kg in the same period. Taking an average figures for the average person, planting about 1000 trees year would off-set their annual carbon footprint: less depending on where they live and the individual life style.

Use Green Energy

Changing your energy provider, to one focusing on green energy (and offsetting gas use). This makes sure you use energy from renewable sources. Additionally it creates a clear market demand for such providers, which in turn drives investment and development of cleaner energy sources. Use smart plugs to source electricity at the lowest tariff, optimal generation time and to suit your life style and values.

YOUR VIEWS

At Ecopush we really value your views and ideas on reducing peoples’ carbon footprint and on ways of doing this, so let us know.

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Why renewable energy is not enough – challenges for a UK powered by green energy

HOW CAN  RENEWABLE ENERGY HELP IN THE BATTLE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE?

In the UK today, we need to decarbonise to avoid the potentially devastating immediate and long term effects of climate change.  The Government has set a strict target in 2017 of reducing the current level of about 300 to 100g CO2 per kWh of energy generation, 28% of all CO2 emissions, by 2050.  The  2050 target is to reduce all emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels which will require reducing domestic emissions by at least 3% per year.  

Sustainable energy generation from renewable sources, typically solar, wind, hydro and biomass, promises to be part of the solution to reducing CO2 emissions.  Another challenge is to match energy demand with energy supply particularly when seeking sustainable energy generation.  

Energy supply: electricity generation

There has been significant progress in the UK in using renewable energy, and  about 30% of UK energy now comes from renewable sources, up from 5.9% in 2010. This is good news for decarbonising the National Grid, and a very significant milestone has been passed  in 2019. So far this year there have been 1,096 hours of “coal free” electricity generation, and only 3.5% of British electricity from coal over the last 12 months, ironically, the longest period since 1882.

In the UK we are now clearly reducing our reliance on the most polluting and, therefore, the least sustainable fuels for electricity generation.  To give you an idea how electricity is used, the electricity mix at 8am on 10th May 2019 was: –

Gas 57.6%, Nuclear 17.5%, Import 9.6%, Biomass 6.0%, Solar 4.2%, Wind 2.2% Hydro 1.6%

Storage 1.2%, Other 0.2%, and Coal 0.0%. Note that while no coal was used gas provided nearly 60%.  Wholly renewables, solar, wind and hydro only account for 8% of totally green energy production. The combined 23.5% of electricity provided by biomass and, particularly, nuclear energy have serious environmental downsides.

Total electricity generation was 37GW with a carbon of intensity of 312g CO2eq/kWh (the target for 2030 is target of 50-100g CO2e/kWh), but the UK still currently emits three times the amount of carbon necessary  to combat the worst effects of Climate Change. To achieve the goal of minimum impact, all gas power plants need to be replaced and, further, a significant increase in the amount of electricity produced by renewable energy sources is required.  Provision probably needs to double every 10 years for the next 40 years, which will be a major challenge.

However, unlike traditional coal or gas power plants, which can be turned on and off to meet demand, renewable energy is volatile and unpredictable. If there is no wind, there is no electricity, which will need to be addressed.  But firstly energy demand.

Energy Demand

The graph below shows the typical energy use of a UK home.  The standout is the large daily peaks and troughs, especially high energy use at over 700W in the early evening, dropping to just over 200W  in the early morning. The evening peak is  3½ times that of the morning.  “So what” you might think, but there are important implications for renewable energy.

The “peak problem”, the disparity between peak and trough demands requires the infrastructure for the energy generation, transformers, power lines and so on to have the capacity to meet the ‘worst case scenario’, the period of maximum power use.  These are usually short-lived periods with low demand prevailing for the rest of the day. The whole system, must be over-engineered massively and, therefore, much more expensive than required for the majority of the time.

The secondly, how best to manage peak demand.  This has a social behaviour dimension. Getting home from work, we turn on the TV, the washing machine, make a cup of tea or coffee, causing high demand.  When most energy came from fossil fuels demand was easily met: want more electricity burn more coal; but this is not so straightforward with renewables.

When demand peaks it might be calm or dark and when the sun does not shine nor the wind no electricity and little or no control.  Given the UK climate,energy demand is at its greatest in mid-winter, mostly to provide home heating. Short days and bad weather severely restrict solar energy placing great reliance on wind power, which we realise is itself variable and not wholly predictable. Hence a potential  mismatch – “the energy gap” with supply failing to meet demand. Is there a solution?

Possible Solutions: a way forward

Nuclear Energy

The massive capital cost of nuclear power plants, the raw materials, safe disposal of waste, the danger of malfunction, security and complex political and environmental considerations make the future of nuclear power uncertain. The replacement of Sizewell B for instance is en-mired in escalating costs and political problems, and proposals for a £16 billion plant in Wales and another in Cumbria have been scrapped. The decade plus time frames for planning and development, the massive costs and associated environmental problems, probably puts nuclear power outside the issues sought to be address in this article.

Over specification of renewables

Many more wind turbines and solar plants must be built to meet peak demand than are required to satisfy base loads. Wind power is the overwhelming source of renewable energy in the UK and many more on and offshore wind turbines are needed for meet future demand and there are trade-off on environmental impact against sustainability. Tidal barrages and hydro-electricity also have potential, but have had little investment to date. Local and environmental resistance to major projects will create political problems and national considerations may have to over-trump the views of the local community. While the size and efficiency of new generation turbines are increasing and relative manufacturing and unit energy production costs are falling, the traditional model of “predict and provide” will require many more units to be built than are technically needed to satisfy normal demand.  This is not the optimum use of resources.

A “smarter” way of filling the energy gap between supply and demand

Managing demand by incentivising behavioural change to allow jobs, tasks and operations in the workplace and at home to be undertaken and organised when energy demand is at its lowest. Some of this is underway in the wider transition to electric transport. Energy storage – charging batteries in the off-peak for peak use, has some potential, despite the limitations and cost of batteries.  Energy storage at Grid scale, however, is in its infancy.

Smart electrical products have growing utility and tech companies are rapidly exploring how best to allow consumers to determine their use electricity, when most convenient and at best cost using smartphones or computers. This technology is in its infancy and needs to be more user friendly and effective and, equally, energy producers need to develop ranges of green and variable tariffs to incentivise and accelerate behavioural change in consumers.

Conclusion

Ecopush has developed and is improving its product/system which enables consumers, using a smartphone or computer, to control and programme their energy use flexibly.  It is simple and convenient and will enable them to obtain the lowest tariffs, use green energy and make the best fit between supply and demand. The system also has the potential to make a contribution to national decarbonisation and to help reduce the UK’s impact on climate change .

If you would like more information contact us at – info@ecopush.co

Our smart plug is available to buy at https://ecopush.co/blog/product/ecopush-plug/

[1] https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/how-much-electricity-does-a-home-use.html

[2]https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/11/hitachi-cancel-plans-nuclear-power-station-angelsey-wales

[3]https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/790626/2018-provisional-emissions-statistics-report.pdf

[4] http://www.mygridgb.co.uk/

[5]https://www.communications@theccc.org.uk Tackling climate change

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Making the most out of Ecopush

So, you’ve got your Ecopush smart plug and want to utilize it its full potential. Using Ecopush ensures you’re saving money and helping the environment, whilst still getting the results you need. With a few simple steps, you can achieve incredible results and save £300+ a year and using an Octopus agile energy tariff . A short video is in preparation to be posted on site and YouTube shortly.

Household Appliances

Big household appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers, require a large amount of electricity to run. Your ecopush app is going to notify you when green energy is available. Thus reducing your consumption of fossil fuel based energy. It will tell you when the ‘cheapest time’ to do your laundry and dishwashing would be, typically this is during night hours, as electricity prices are at their lowest. Heating and cooling systems account for around 43% of your annual energy bill, with Ecopush you can turn your heating or cooling system on during the day and regulate the temperature to your comfort. This way you don’t turn it on in the evening during surge hours saving you tons of money!

Battery Powered Tools

Today, many of us own household electric tools. Cordless tools are becoming vastly popular. Electric lawn mowers, strimmers, hovers, leaf blowers etc, are being regularly designed with some sort of battery that needs to be consistently recharged .Generally for this type of useage, peak times (expensive and harmful fuel emissions) tend to be between 5pm and 10pm daily. Ecopush will notify you of the best time to use energy based on your bespoke consumption needs. Using ecopush, will mean your electric tools will be fully charged with 100% renewable energy!

Hot Tubs and Electric Heaters

You can even use Ecopush on your hot tub, hot tubs use a large amount of electricity and cost an average of £300 a year to run. You can also have your electric boiler, heating up water when electricity is cheapest or greenest. Due to market forces, when energy demands spike, costs will simultaneously rise. And the demands must be met so suppliers are forces to turn to more flexible power plants, which burn fossil fuels, to meet the demand. The result of this is higher costs and higher emissions if you use energy during these peak times.

Electric Bikes

e-bikes are on the rise! Many people are turning them as they are much faster and easier to ride up hills. Part of the rise in popularity is due to falling costs and improvements in battery technology which looks set to continue. If you’re planning on obtaining or already hold one of these fascinating bikes, using ecopush to charge them is your only option.

Electric Scooters

Birds are here! The Californian electric scooter business Bird has launched a service in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and in a few months these scooters will be available to the public just about anywhere in the city. This electric scooter company back in the United States pays people to collect these scooters and charge them and they look set to employ the same model here. When they get approved to operate in London, locals, with the help of Ecopush, have a chance to make extra money by charging these scooters off-peak hours.

Personal Electronics

To gain the best results with your ecopush plug, charge your electronic devices during the day or night when green energy is available. ecopush is perfect for charging laptops, mobiles, tablets and more. It is also great for changing back-up chargers to ensure your phone is charged even on the go.

With ecopush, you will be implemented in a demand response scheme to react to a request by a utility or market price condition. Because of demand response, you will be reducing peak demand while reducing the risk of potential disturbances, avoid additional capital cost requirements for additional plants, and avoid the use of more expensive/or less efficient operation plants. You are helping everyone including yourself because by avoiding all this you don’t have to pay higher prices since generation capacity is not being used from a higher-cost source of power generation.  

Electric Vehicles

There are current complications with recharging of electric cars and Ecopush is investigating how best to use our smart plug for this purpose.

So, what will you use your first Ecopush for?

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The energy-aware smart plug.

The Ecopush smart plug automatically saves you money and saves the environment. The Ecopush system has been developed to preserve your pocket as well as the planet.

Since we became fully aware of the true impacts of fossil fuel consumption, from global warming to damage on human health, there has been a concerted effort to move towards alternative efficient fuels. In the second quarter of 2018, 29% of the UK’s electricity supply came from renewable resources, a significant increase from 5.9% in the equivalent quarter of 2010.

Source: BEIS Energy trends section 5: Electricity (ET 5.1) .
Information correct as of: January 2019

We have started to increase efforts to preserve the planet by using clean innovative energy technology and cutting back on the use of fossil fuels. The more we use clean renewable energy such as solar, wind, nuclear power, and hydro-electric, the less CO2 emissions are released. As electricity is not currently stored easily, and the more we can use off-peak electricity the less CO2 is emitted.

Unfortunately, renewable resources are more volatile and unpredictable than traditional coal or gas power plants. If there is no wind, turbines can’t convert electricity and have to be shut down in high winds and similarly, no sun no solar power. Traditional coal or gas power plants can be turned on and off to match demand, which renewable resources cannot. Wind, turbines can only operate generally in wind speeds of approximately 10 -55 mph) and this volatility needs to be addressed.

Market principles, the ‘supply and demand’ of electricity, means prices are constantly fluctuating throughout the day, and occasionally being negative if there is a surplus of energy within the National Grid. Over the last 12 months energy unit prices were below 2 p/kWh 31 times and below 0 p/kWh 4 times! (source Octopus Energy

Ecopush has researched ways to make better use of renewable energy and has developed the Ecopush smart plug. The Ecopush system works remotely and has a choice of settings to suit your personal consumption. You can choose to minimise costs, minimise pollution or both.

Ecopush automatically calculates the best times for you to use energy reducing your impact on the environment, lowering your carbon footprint and save you cash! The price of your energy changes seasonally, daily, hourly and the Ecopush system makes the optimal use of this.

When electricity demand peaks during the day, non-renewable resources such as oil and coal are used to meet this and increase supply. Ecopush allows you can set your plug to the eco setting to ensure you only use energy when these polluting sources are off-line. Ecopush smart plug uniquely is fully automatic, unlike other smart plugs on the market, which have to be set manually and are unable to track your energy consumption or its source.

Ecopush smart plug also includes a handy app which enable you to track your spending, your energy use and your CO2 output with pinpoint precision.

Whether your motivation is to save money or save the environment the Ecopush is here to help. Its “designed-in” functions allow you to choose, easily and simply, which energy schedule you wish to follow to make the most out of your energy supplier’s tariffs.

Ecopush smart plugs are incredibly quick and easy to install and for a limited time only if you switch to an Octopus Agile Tariff you get a free Ecopush plug to get you started. Even using the Octopus’ basic tariff customers have seen an average saving of £200 a year compared to the big 6 providers.