National Grid issues innovation ‘call to arms’ as system stability tops priority list

Image: National Grid.

National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) unit has placed system stability at the top of its innovation priority list, while issuing a “call to arms” for the energy industry to collaborate further.

The ESO moved the function to the very top of its 10-strong list of priorities while new entrants – Digital transformation and the Whole Energy System – entered at fifth and sixth respectively for the 2019/20 year ahead.

The system operator late last week published its innovation strategyfor the forthcoming year, unveiled as one of a number of documents released last week as the country’s ESO detailed its direction of travel.

In a league table of priorities, National Grid ESO has moved system stability to the very top, citing a combination of issues surrounding inertia, voltage management and the need to enable more non-synchronous generation on the grid.

In order to achieve its aims, the ESO has said it must identify new ways of enhancing system stability and support the “safe and efficient” operation of the country’s electricity system amidst an evolution in power generation.

As more non-synchronous (i.e. intermittent, distributed generation) comes on-stream, system frequency changes are happening quicker than before, affecting the levels of inertia and voltage variances on the system. This is making it more difficult for the two types of generation to co-exist, requiring a more hands-on operation.

A prime example of this occurred late last month, when an “unprecedented” series of events led to the UK wholesale price dipping into negative pricing for six straight hours, an occurrence which research and analysis firm Cornwall Insight said was likely to become more common over the next 15 years as intermittent generation grew.

New additions to the priority list were identified as the digital transformation and whole energy system challenges, which the ESO has raised previously.

The digital transformation occurring within grids and the electricity system in general is creating a significant increase in the amount of data available as the number of market entrants and generators soars, enough to render legacy systems unable to cope.

National Grid has stressed there to be a need to harness this new level of data, while simultaneously test the application of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing and blockchain to extract and share new insights.

In addition, the ESO has referenced the need for heightened security and data resilience within the network, required as a result of its status as a Critical National Infrastructure.

National Grid has also once again stressed the need to investigate the ongoing electrification of heat and transport, and how the gas and power systems can collaborate as both markets change.

In a foreword Kayte O’Neill, head of strategy and regulation at National Grid System Operator, said the last 12 months had seen Great Britain make further advancements with decarbonisation and digitisation.

“The System Operator is evolving to keep up with this rapid change… We have responded to rapid decentralisation and decarbonisation in many ways, including introducing a dedicated distributed energy resource desk into our electricity control room and by taking a leading role in the discussion of decarbonisation of gas.

“To achieve these key transformations, we must innovate together as an industry. At the heart of the energy system, the System Operator is in a unique position to drive many of the changes needed to deliver the future vision we all share.

“[This document]… is a call to arms from the System Operator to the energy industry. We look forward to working with you this year to support System Operator innovation and to help deliver the future. GB energy system.”

How Does Solar Battery Technology Work?

Renewable energy is rightly growing in popularity. According to data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), bioenergy, wind, solar and hydro accounted for 27.5% of all energy supplied in the UK in 2018, up from 23.5% in 2017.

The Solar Trade Association also reports that the UK now has more than 1 million solar homes, counting both solar and solar thermal. While statistics  from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show there are now 800,000 UK homes with photovoltaic (PV) panels.

If you’re considering installing solar, either at home or on your commercial premises, it’s important to do your homework. Which is why, in this post, we answer questions about solar battery technology, so you understand how solar batteries work in conjunction with solar panels and government incentives for exporting power to the grid.

What Are Solar Batteries Used For?

Solar batteries are used to store energy generated by PV panels. The stored power is usable when the panels are operating under capacity, such as on cloudy days when they operate at under 25%, or when they’re not generating electricity at all, during night time, for instance.

Think of it in the context of a regular weekday. Imagine it’s a sunny day and you’re at work from 9am to 5pm. Because you’re in the office, you’re not home at 12 noon, when the sun is at its strongest and your PV panels are most effective. Therefore, you can’t use that solar energy straight away.

A solar battery stores that energy created at peak sun-hours for later. This means you’ll have renewable energy to use when you get home later in the day, and can use household appliances as usual. Essentially, storage batteries mean you can nearly always rely on renewable energy.

How Is Solar Energy Stored In Batteries?

Solar energy is stored in solar batteries as direct current (DC) electricity, after being generated from direct sunlight by PV panels. A built-in converter then turns the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is usable for powering devices and appliances.

How Long Will A Fully-Charged Solar Battery Last?

It depends on the battery model and what you are using the power for. But in many cases, solar batteries generate around 10 to 12 hours of energy, which is enough to use on winter’s nights, or on cloudy days when PV panels aren’t operating to full capacity.

The average UK household uses between 13 to 14 kWh of electricity per day (5,000 kWh per year), mainly in the morning and evening. Solar batteries range in capacity; from 1.2 kWh to 16 kWh, so calculate your household energy usage, or ask an energy expert for an estimation and advice.

As a rule of thumb, the more household appliances you use, the bigger you will want your solar battery capacity to be. Your decision will also depend on battery cost, as there are plenty of different price options available, meaning there will be a battery to suit your requirements.

Warranties are available, but they vary. Some manufactures guarantee unlimited charges, and some offering a certain number of charges, whether that’s three or ten thousand. Some manufacturers offer a guaranteed power range – often between 7,200 kWh to 80,000 kWh – over time.

In addition to capacity, the makeup of the solar battery is important too. Lead acid, while being the cheaper option, doesn’t last as long as lithium ion. Lithium ion is now seen as the go-to material, due to its lifespan. Saltwater electrolyte batteries are available, but remain relatively untested.

How Do Solar Batteries Feed Into The Grid?

Solar batteries have a dual purpose if you are connected to the grid. Firstly, being able to export unused power to the grid when you don’t need it. Secondly, being able to import electricity into your property from the grid itself, when the combination of your PV panels and solar battery isn’t generating enough electricity.

You may have heard of the feed-in tariff (FiT), whereby small-scale renewable generators, such as homes or small businesses, were paid for green electricity exported to the grid. FiT has now ended, however, with a new system set to be implemented in 2019 following a the results of a now-closed consultation: the future for small-scale low-carbon generation.

Can You Use A Solar Battery To Go Off-Grid?

Yes. Although PV panels in isolation aren’t enough. That’s because cloudy days (and we get plenty of them in the UK!) might not always provide you with enough sunlight to turn into power. A solar battery, however, could help you store enough energy to go completely off-grid. Although whether this is viable or not depends on both your household energy usage, and the solar battery model you choose.

Generating your own green power by going completely off-grid is an admirable goal. Energy experts will help you assess both the technology installations and lifestyle changes required to make it happen.

Do Solar Batteries Work During A Power Cut?

Yes. In the same way solar batteries store power that’s usable when PV panels aren’t at full capacity, batteries store backup power that’s usable during a power cut. This means you’ll carry on as normal, while properties around you without the same technology are plunged into complete darkness.

The battery stores the energy and you can use it whenever — and however — you wish to.

Grid-edge ‘explosion’ driving a second system transition

Image: Getty.

An “explosion” in the number of devices connected at the end of the grid is driving a second transition and new demand for tech solutions.

Speaking to Current±, Vera Silva, CTO at General Electric’s Grid Solutions arm, said that while software solutions had been pivotal in facilitating the proliferation of renewables to date, claiming that “the road that took us here might not take us there”.

“Until now, in countries that have high renewables, quite a lot of improvement has been done using better software and implementing grid automation and controls.

“That has squeezed more capacity and allowed grids to operate closer to real time. That’s the first transition we’ve seen.

“[But] then there’s a next stage. You need to invest in infrastructure, at some stage just investing in software is not enough,” she said.

Silva pointed towards the UK and Ireland as being particularly prescient examples of markets where high penetration of renewables has forced network operators into action.

The UK in particular has seen the number of generators soar from 90 to more than a million, driven by rocketing numbers of domestic solar installations and other small-scale renewables, with energy storage cited as the next technology to deploy at scale.

While this has created significant technical challenges by changing the physical properties of systems – inertia for one is radically reducing – that explosion in technology at the grid-edge has provided operators with a “huge opportunity” to bolster their management capabilities.

This is occurring firstly through more efficient management systems and then through new technologies.

“First you try to do everything you can with digital, but at the same time you install equipment,” Silva said.

The goal, she added, was to transition from reactive management, through to predictive and then finally end up in an autonomous management function.

Farewell FiTs: Industry leaders embrace a ‘new era’ for UK solar

UK solar is entering a “new era” following the closure of the feed-in tariff last weekend, and industry leaders are prepared to embrace the sector’s subsidy-free future.

 

Chris Hewett, chief executive, the Solar Trade Association:

“Having grown accustomed to the ups and downs of the UK solarcoaster, perhaps it was too much to expect a smooth end to the Feed-in-Tariff. The fact that these projects have been left stranded as a result of arbitrary capacity caps is another blow to an industry that is already struggling with more than its fair share of challenges.

“We are keeping a close eye on these rapidly moving market developments, and will be helping households to identify the best Smart Export Guarantee offers through a supplier league table. We are delighted to be able to make Octopus Energy the first addition to the table and look forward to seeing more suppliers come forward with offers in the future.”

 

Frans van den Heuvel, chief executive, Solarcentury:

“Over the past 20 years, subsidies have played a critical role in making solar power mainstream, affordable and accessible, such that solar today is the world’s cheapest form of energy generation. While the end of the feed-in tariff is bad news for UK residential solar, we believe there is still a place for utility scale solar projects to thrive in a subsidy free UK market, thanks to continued technological advancements and the falling cost of solar over recent years.”

“The lack of desire from the UK government to support solar has been disappointing and, without doubt, has slowed the development of the UK solar industry, especially in contrast to other international markets where politicians are actively working to strengthen the business case for solar power. Well in advance of the government’s decision to drop support of renewables in 2015, we decided to diversify our business out of the UK and into new, growing and more progressive international markets. In hindsight the right decision given the unsupportive Government policies.”

“As the market has evolved, Solarcentury and many others in the sector have theoretically supported an end to tariffs and the move to a modern, market-based system as promised by the government’s proposals. However, we do not believe the government is ready to implement a market based scheme such as the Smart Export Guarantee.”

 

Simon Daniel, chief executive, Moixa:

“The solar industry is entering its next stage of development and presenting a range of new and exciting opportunities.

“The feed-in tariff closure does pose a unique set of challenges for those looking to sell capacity back to the grid. However, the Solar Export Guarantee and increased competition between suppliers will offer a number of new benefits. In particular, special tariffs for owners of solar and electric vehicles will open up grid income opportunities for thousands of people.”

 

Ben Harrison, managing partner, Mypower:

“Ending feed-in tariffs removes reliance on government policy which is a positive move for companies. Plus they can already receive greater payment for the spare power they sell to the National Grid than was being offered by the government scheme.”

“Previously, there was uncertainty about how government policy would change the FiTS along with widespread negativity in the marketplace reacting to announcements over the years, dissuading many from considering solar power at all. Plus some companies perceived the FiTS as complex and others wouldn’t consider taking subsidies as a matter of principle.”

“We’d urge the UK government to consider an on-going subsidy system aimed at accelerating the development of the next generation of this technology. Whoever discovers the holy grail of energy storage will have discovered the goose that lays the golden egg and it would be a significant boost to the UK economy if it could be a British company.”

The Feed-in Tariff is dead. This is how small-scale renewables can live on.

Launched in 2010, the Government’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT) was a model that encouraged and enabled homes and businesses to generate their own renewable electricity. Solar cells generating power, feeding green energy into the grid. Small-scale, localised and, when it comes to tackling climate change, incredibly powerful. And yet, as of Sunday 31stMarch 2019, the Government is pulling the plug on FiT.

FiT was a literal power shift. An energy network transformed from 100 generators, owned by industry behemoths and mostly burning fossil fuels, to 800,000 localised solar power sources. With a capacity of 6.5GW – enough energy for 2.3 million homes.

A huge contributor to Britain’s massive carbon reduction, the 759,000 sub-4kw typical rooftop solar installations alone will save 771,646 tonnes of carbon per year — the equivalent of the carbon captured by 1.38 billion trees annually.

FiT made small-scale generation, big.

Too big too fast, however. The initially high tariffs solar panel owners were paid coincided with a dropping in cost of installing solar. This led to rapid uptake that gave the Government cold feet. Cue tariff payment cuts. At launch, self-generators enjoyed 40p per kWH; today it’s 5p.

With FiT in its final throes, energy minister Claire Perry has asked what should replace it, with her department taking industry views on its proposed substitute, the Smart Export Guarantee.

Another acronym for us all, SEG forces large suppliers to pay households and businesses for exporting their power. The export must be ‘smart’, meaning measured accurately through a smart meter. However, it is safe to say that Smart Export Guarantee is not warming up on the side lines, ready to take FiT’s place on the pitch. It’s not even on the bench.

Two immediate problems. First, timing — the SEG will not be in place by April, when FiT comes to an end. So, a gap with no structured support for small scale renewables. Solar installations will drop off a cliff, not just denting Britain’s ability to curb climate change but also stymying the emerging renewables industry – manufacturing, installation and servicing.

Second, so-called smart. Smart meters in most homes today are of the SMETS1 design. They’re incapable of metering export — not so smart. SMETS2 meters are capable, theoretically, but their roll-out has faced multiple delays. The ability to measure export is still not available and government has paid little attention to rectifying the problem.

However, more fundamentally, why focus on export at all? The shorter distance electricity has to travel, the greener it is. A clean, intelligent, localised power grid should not prioritise export.

So, what is the SEG designed for? It is certainly not here to accelerate the growth of renewables. In fact, the Department for BEIS has stated explicitly that it is not.

SEG is a PR placeholder. A pin stuck in small scale solar. So fracking and slow, expensive nuclear deployment can continue.

Insane when you consider that the heat is on to address climate change. This is an opportunity to get to a cleaner energy system faster.

Changing technologies and changing behaviours require us to see energy differently. Old world energy is big power station to small consumer. New world energy is localised and self-sufficient, generating and using your own power in your own home. It cuts carbon and it cuts costs.

Yes, solar has its challenges. It’s most productive in summer and during the day whilst people are at work. But fast developing technologies — storage batteries, truly smart metering, electric vehicles — solve those problems.

 

FiT worked because it provided a fixed return, giving households – and banks – the certainty to invest in uncertain technology. Now the technology is tried and tested. It is the moment for the government, and financial institutions, to understand a world of localised energy and its value. The energy source is ready to go subsidy free, but a patient finance is required to support households with the upfront investment – a ‘help to buy’ for solar.

Less than three per cent of homes generate their own renewable power today, yet their total capacity is double our largest power station. Imagine if it was 10, 20 or even more. Costs are still falling, the technology is available and the need to address climate change ever more pressing.

We need a clean power grid that is designed for the UK’s 66 million people, not just a few big energy companies.

Farewell FiTs: How the feed-in tariff gave birth to UK Solar

Nine years on from the beginning of the feed-in tariff and the solar industry is a changed beast. Larger, certainly. Wiser, perhaps. One thing is for sure, it has learned to thrive in the face of uncertainty and rampant adversity.

The process to implementing a feed-in tariff (FiT) wasn’t the easiest, requiring lobbying of a government that didn’t have any faith in solar. On 1 April 2010, however, it was finally introduced by what was then the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), met with excitement and hope by the industry that had campaigned for it.

“Everybody was over the moon,” says industry stalwart Ray Noble, speaking of his instrumental role in lobbying for the scheme. Noble has had a long history with the government, working as an adviser for approximately 20 years.

Noble says the FiT was hard to get off the ground for the very reason it was needed: there had to be proof that solar would work in the UK. As it was, there was a belief within the government that solar wasn’t an option for the UK due to less than optimal weather conditions in comparison to the booming markets of the time in Southern Europe.

There were no plans by the government to have a FiT in the UK. But then things changed.

There were the first inklings that solar might be viable in the UK, with demand for the large-scale building projects and first domestic roof projects that were springing up exceeding the money available. Whilst this was a sign of a market that was starting to grow, the belief in government was that solar would only work south of the M4. The view was that solar further North, particularly solar in Scotland, could not and would not work. Of course, that idea seems almost laughable now.

And so in 2010 the FiT was born, with the hope of it sparking a wider solar market in the UK. And that it most certainly did.

The gold rush

“The industry exploded,” Noble says, describing the time as a “gold rush”. The government’s plans to deliver 1MW over the course of the five-year FiT was exceeded in the first 9 months, creating a panic over funds.

“They had not done their homework and they got the numbers all wrong.” Noble added, “I told them on day one they’d got the prices wrong. They should have reduced the prices by 25% before they even started.”

Noble added that the government didn’t factor in price reduction, believing it would take much longer than ended up being the case. “They thought it would take time… two years, before you need to review it. It changed in price virtually overnight and continued to change in price. So they were always behind the curve trying to balance their budgets.

“That was the main problem with the FiT. It should have been based whereby the tariff was related to the price of solar. Saying that, without that we’d probably still be in the same frame of mind here – does solar really work in the UK?”

August 2015 is an infamous date in the solar industry and one which sealed the fate of how the FiT would be remembered. No longer was it a shining beacon leading solar towards a bright future. Instead, things were starting to look very cloudy indeed.

DECC released its review of the FiT and with it, unleashed a tidal wave of outrage from the industry. Support for solar installations up to 10kW was proposed to fall by a whopping 87%, down from 12.47p/kWh to 1.63p/kWh. It was expected that there would be substantial cuts, but nothing like what was dropped on the solar industry that afternoon.

After a lengthy consultation, the government relented and upped the rate from 1.63p/kWh to 4.39p/kWh. But this was still a substantial cut.

“It took the rug from under us”

MCS director and ex-solar installer Chris Roberts says that it “took the rug from under us”, stating that “half the problem” stems from those in government that “do not have a clue how commerce works.”

Roberts continued to say that the government wanted to stimulate an industry and get “as big a result as possible without understanding that these things need to be sustainable and planned into the long term”, likening the issue to going to the gym on steroids.

“They grew an industry in a way that wasn’t sustainable and now we are left with a bigger industry than we otherwise would have had, but there’s been a lot of carnage and a lot of wastage along the way.”

Noble also says that part of the issue lies with the government “[losing] all their officials”, adding that most were “dragged” into Brexit or retired when George Osborne sought to “cull Whitehall by 25%”.

However, Noble points to Spain and Portugal as a suggestion of where UK solar might be heading, with the countries “originally” having a reputation for being “the place to put solar” due to their tariffs.

“Then the bubble burst because they spent too much money too quick, just like the UK did, so they pulled the plug. A year ago people started looking again at Spain and Portugal and realised it works without the subsidy- it’s reached grid parity.” Noble added, suggesting that UK solar will also reach grid parity “in no time at all.”

Looking back, Noble says that despite the cuts and miscalculations from the government, the FiT was a success and was the driving force behind the exponential growth the industry has seen.

“The good news is climate change is now recognised, solar is proved that it works, solar is now the cheapest form of generation along with wind, and storage coming along is the holy grail of solar. As an industry we should be over the moon.”

Jaguar Land Rover installs ‘largest’ workplace EV charging centre

Image: Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has partnered with Shell-owned EV charging operator NewMotion to install 166 smart charge points at one of its sites.

The chargers have been installed at Jaguar Land Rover’s Gaydon Engineering Centre, with the network being billed as the largest of its kind in the UK.

The 7kW chargers were supplied by NewMotion and are integrated with NewMotion’s public network, allowing JLR employees to charge at any of the operator’s 100,000 charge points across Europe with a single card.

Charge points will also be installed in the visitor’s car park, with further chargers be installed at other UK sites in the future.

Jaguar Land Rover sources 100% renewable energy for its UK facilities, with the charge points providing a “carbon-free” commute to their employees.

Mick Cameron, head of e-Mobility at JLR, said that he hopes the charge points will encourage employees to switch to electric vehicles, with every new Jaguar and Land Rover model line to be electrified from 2020.

The 2025 Gas Heating Ban. What you need to know…

It’s official; every new build property from 2025 will be banned from installing Gas powered heating systems. MP Philip Hammond has pointed towards Heat Pumps and ‘world leading insulation’ as the solution to fill the gap left by Gas systems and, as you can imagine, Freedom Heat Pumps are over the moon.

So why has Philip Hammond pointed to this technology? And what was the catalyst that finally led to a deadline for Gas systems?

Why Air Source Heat Pumps?

The answer here is simple; they are the greenest way of providing heating for your home. An Air Source Heat Pump literally uses fresh air and inverts it to make heat for your home. When coupled with well insulated and designed properties it provides the most cost-efficient and green energy solution available.

Freedom have over 50 years combined experience in the sector and are constantly pushing boundaries with their service:

Why the deadline for Gas Systems?

Pressure has been building on the government to act quickly for climate change. Recently children have been protesting, Greenpeace have added further pressure by releasing several petitions and highlighting “Issues like the shoddy state of our existing housing stock.” Mel Evans, Greenpeace. All in all climate change, together with the use of single-use plastics has monopolised the green agenda for a number of groups including Greenpeace.

If you would like more information on how you can become an Infinity Air Source Heat Pump customer or anything to do with our green technology, the Renewable Heat Incentive or our bespoke Heat Loss Calculator then please contact us.

When Will Fossil Fuels Run Out?

When Will Fossil Fuels Run Out?

When it comes to environmental health and doing our bit to help Planet Earth, we’re more educated than we’ve ever been before. Not a week goes by without a headline about global warming, or an article about some emerging renewable technology that might save the planet we live on.

It’s the same with fossil fuels. We know that they’re dangerous, and yet they’re still the conventional means of generating energy for our homes and businesses. We know they’re dangerous.

We also know that fossil fuels are a depleting resource. One day, we’ll have none left. But when? Will it be in the not-too-distant-future, or will it be way beyond our time? We went in search of the most definitive answers possible.

The problem of demand

Before we get into it, let’s have a quick look at the current energy landscape. Being part of the renewable movement, we think that D-Day cannot come soon enough. The sooner fossil fuels run out, the better.

However, this is the staunch environmentalists in us talking. The eco-warriors. There’s a bigger picture to consider: the simple expiry of fossil fuels is not sustainable because the fact remains that we absolutely depend on them. At the moment.

Worldwide demand is high and rising: only last year, the Energy and CO2 Status Report showed that demand for energy worldwide rose by 2.1%. This has more than doubled since the last report in 2016!

So, demand for fossil fuels continues to grow, and that demand is met by oil, coal, and natural gas. In fact, figures from 2017 show that 70% of the growth of global demand was catered for by the same fossil fuel resources.

Fortunately, renewable energy isn’t too far behind. Stats from the same Status Report show that renewables experienced the highest growth of all energy sources last year, with China and the United States leading a rate of growth never before seen for renewables. So, that’s something!

But when will fossil fuels end?

Now we’ve got an idea of the playing field, let’s get down it.

It’s a difficult question. Although fossil fuels have been around for millions of years, we’ve only been using them for around two centuries. In that relatively short space of time, though, we’ve consumed a massive amount and it continues unabated.

So, if we continue at our current rate, it is estimated that all of our fossil fuels will be depleted by 2060. If we keep on mining the earth in such a damaging way, we might find new reserves that will push that date back. Of course, we don’t want that to happen.

The expiry date differs with each resource, so now we’re going to look at each fuel-group separately.

When will we run out of oil?

This is unique. It’s estimated that known oil-deposits will run out by 2052. Realistically, we may never run out of oil because, given the depth of the Earth’s core, there will be new wells to discover.

That said, it’s highly likely that the practice of mining such depths will become economically unviable. Prices for fuel will rise – as they have always done – and ultimately we will look for alternative, cheaper means of producing energy.

The price of oil will increase due to heightened labour costs, while the supply itself will wane. This will have a knock-on effect, whereby homeowners will realise that renewables are far cheaper than fossil fuels.

We are hurtling towards this scenario. According to the Oil Market Report, which was commissioned by the International Energy Agency, demand has slowed in the last quarter after a significant uptick throughout 2016 and 2017. This means that it’s due another surge, and this should be even higher than previous years.

And let’s also remember that the worldwide transport industry is driven (no pun intended) solely by oil, which means that it’s being consumed at a far quicker rate than other fossil fuels.

When will we run out of coal?

According to the World Coal Association, there are an estimated 1.1 trillion tonnes of coal reserves across the world. At our current rates of production and consumption, there is enough coal to last us 150 years. By around 2168, coal will be no more (unless we discover new deposits which push that date back). It all relies on the rate of demand, which, for coal, grew considerably last year. Construction and industry are responsible for 80% of the rise in global demand, and China accounted for a third of its growth in 2017.

Coal is by far the most polluting fossil fuel still in production. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), this dirty resource is the culprit for some of our worst environmental crimes.

The good news is that we’re turning our backs on it, slowly: just last year, the UK spent three days without coal power – the first time we’ve gone without coal since the 19th century.

When will we run out of gas?

According to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2018, we have 193.5 trillion cubic metres of gas left, which will last anywhere between 90 and 120 years. The number will always vary: as we’ve seen already, it depends on the annual rate of consumption, which has risen steadily from a relative low of 3 trillion cubic metres to more than 3.5 trillion (BP Statistical Review).

Choose solar

There you have it. We’ve given you the best answers we could find. Although the depletion of fossil fuels won’t likely happen in our lifetime, it may well happen in your children’s or grandchildren’s lifetimes.

Oxford PV lands £31 million funding for perovskite commercialisation push

Image: Oxford PV.

UK-based perovskite specialist Oxford PV has raised £31 million in a Series D funding round which included participation from a host of global energy companies.

In the first portion of its Series D funding, the company saw “major” new investment from Chinese renewables firm Goldwind as well as new funding from Equinor and Legal & General.

The funding is to be used to help commercialise Oxford PV’s technology, with the company claiming it to be well positioned to do so after a productive year.

The past 12 months has seen Oxford PV’s perovskite-on-silicon cell set a new world record for efficiency, and its technology passed reliability tests associated with the IEC 61215 protocol.

Furthermore the company’s pilot line is producing commercial-sized tandem solar cells which are being validated by Oxford PV’s development partner, an as-yet-unnamed major silicon solar cell and module manufacturer.

Frank Averdung, chief executive at Oxford PV, said the investment demonstrated its partners’ continued confidence in both the technology and its “commercial readiness”.

“We are delighted to have investors that recognise the capability of our perovskite solar cell technology to transform the performance of silicon-based photovoltaics and the role it will play in the global transition to a clean energy future,” he said.