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Learning from the European utility mess

Utility businesses models across the world are increasingly under pressure from three forces: Decarbonisation, Decentralisation and Digitalisation. These changes are so profound that they are calling into question the very existence of many utilities. No more is this so than in Europe where utilities have made, in recent years, asset writedowns totalling over $100 billion … Continued

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Are we seeing the end or the new beginnings of nuclear?

I was at a conference recently where a senior executive from the Russian nuclear company Rosatom gave a presentation on their two new 1.2GW third generation nuclear reactors in Kallingrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic Coast situated in between Lithuania and Poland. The presentation was about how the build out of an Eastern European grid … Continued

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Why it’s time to tax carbon

It is clear to me that low carbon technologies such as solar and storage will become so cheap that they will enable a shift away from fossil fuels. In the coming years, we will see renewables increasingly powering our homes and businesses and eventually over the next 30 years we will see automobiles fully electrify … Continued

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Apple, 3D Sensors and Driverless Cars

If you have ever played with the Xbox Kinect, you will have a good idea of what a 3D sensor can do! If you have not, you should because using the Kinect will you give an idea of how close this technology is to a digital version of the human eye. Whatsmore, Apple will probably … Continued

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2017 will be the year when Wireless Charging goes Mainstream

The mass of wires that make up our modern lives is quite unbelievable. My house is full of plugs, extension leads, power cables, transformer boxes and charging devices. And charging the range of digital devices that make up our modern lives is a pain. I am always forgetting to charge the phone or bring a … Continued

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Positioning around the Great Battery Race is critical to nations and all companies involved in energy and transport

Batteries have been around for more than one hundred years but thanks to the smart phone they have become important enablers of our modern lives. As battery technology improves they will become critical components for powering our automobiles as well as become vital assets for our power system. In fact, the coming of cheap and … Continued

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Renewables enter a new golden era? Not just yet, I am afraid.

Over the last decade we have seen a global boom in renewables with installations increasing every year without fail. We are however now entering a new phase were annual installations are likely to flatten out and maybe fall as we find better ways to integrate renewables into our power systems as well as find alternative … Continued

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Why my daughter will never learn to drive a car…

When I told my five-year-old daughter that I was buying an electric car, she was to say the least excited. But this excitement turned to huge disappointment when she realised that there was no internet in the car. It got even worse, when she realised she could not control the car with her iPad as she … Continued

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Don’t worry, be solar! How and why solar is revolutionizing our energy world

When we talk about energy today the first thing that most people think of is oil, then maybe coal and gas. Increasingly people are however mentioning solar which should not be a surprise given that nearly all of our planets energy needs is already met either indirectly or directly by the sun! Plants are totally dependent … Continued

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Tesla and the iPhone Moment

On March 31st 2016, Elon Musk the CEO and founder of Tesla announced the 2017 launch of a $35,000 Model 3 electric car with a range of 345km per and Porsche like performance with acceleration of below 6 seconds from 0-100km/h. Within a week the company had received over 325,000 orders for the new car … Continued

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The coming of the hybrid ultracapacitor and lithium-ion system and what it means for EVs, power generation and stationary storage

There is a lot of hype in and around energy storage and in particular around lithium-ion batteries which are becoming more widespread thanks to their increasing use in consumer goods and electric and hybrid motor vehicles. However, lithium-ion batteries are still too expensive for many applications and we will not see exponential growth in the … Continued

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Why the future of energy storage belongs to lithium-ion

Electricity storage is both complicated and expensive. Electricity has to be converted into another form of energy then converted back into electrical energy before it can be reused. Scientists have been trying to crack the electricity storage code for over 150 years now. Despite their efforts, the two main storage technologies employed today: lead-acid batteries … Continued

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Saudi raises the white flag in its attempt to regain control of the global oil market

With the OPEC decision to cut oil production, for the first time in 8 years, by 1.2m barrels a day to 32.5m barrels per day, Saudi Arabia has raised the white flag and admitted defeat in its attempt to regain control of the global oil market. If the cut in production holds, it should bring … Continued

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Why energy investors need to rethink how they look at energy

Since the financial crisis in 2008, we have seen massive growth in global energy supply, not to mention falling demand across the OECD and weaker than expected demand for energy from countries like China and India, the combined result of which is that we have seen falling oil, gas, coal and power prices. The big … Continued

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Why hybridisation is only a bridge to the full electrification of automobiles

An automobile engineer recently described the new BMW 225xe Plug in Hybrid as the most complex automobile BMW has ever built. And if you look at it (take a look at the picture) you can understand why. It has an internal combustion engine (ICE) above the front axis of the car and a battery and … Continued

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French nuclear shutdowns raising power price across Europe

Over the last six months’ wholesale power prices across Europe have exploded. German one-month forward power prices are up 60% since the start of January, while UK prices have doubled. That said wholesale power prices have fallen steadily since 2008 which still means today that prices are still lower than where they were back then. … Continued

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Will electricity generation and power distribution go back to the way it was in the 19th century?

The small, picturesque town of Godalming, nestled among the low hills of southeast England, became the first town in the world to install a public electricity supply, in September 1881. Demand initially was for public lighting, which expanded, to an emerging electric tram network, and industry. At the start of this new age of electricity, … Continued

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The implications of the digitalization of energy

Digitalization is the flavour of the month when it comes to energy companies. And energy executives across the world are all using the buzzwords such as Big Data, the Cloud, Digital Wind to Digital Oil Fields and Internet of Energy as they talk about their future strategies but all of them seem to me to … Continued

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Global wind enters a new era

I spent much of last week at Wind Energy Hamburg meeting executives in companies right across the wind value chain. There was a buoyant mood and the good news is that wind is firmly embedded as part of the global power mix. However, the global wind industry is entering a new slower growth phase driven … Continued

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Russia and the changing world of European gas

Natural gas prices in Europe are sitting at close to five years lows. This has happened for a variety of reasons but in particular weak demand, the shale gas revolution and changes in EU policy which have increased competition across the gas markets. Europe’s major gas supplier Russia sees the low prices as a short … Continued

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The coming of the hydrogen economy, finally?

Hydrogen and fuel cells seem to be in the news again. We have Honda and Toyotabringing out fuel cells cars and then we have Europe’s largest utility Engie proclaiming that the future is hydrogen. I must admit though I am a little sceptical as I have heard this tune before, and I still doubt the … Continued

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Maybe the worst is behind for Uniper but can we say the same for E.ON?

Right before our eyes, we are seeing new technology enabled service business models across energy. The new business model of utilities are not about selling KWhs of electricity but instead selling flatrates, software as a service, energy service agreements, platforms for data sharing, all of which are empowering customers across the world. But change is … Continued

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How cheap and decentralized energy storage will revolutionize our world

Batteries may have been around for the last 100 years but the technology and cost reduction advances we have seen in the last years has been nothing short of remarkable. In 2009, lithium-ion battery packs were priced at $1,300 per KWh; today they are below $350/KWh with a clear cost roadmap towards $100/KWh over the next … Continued

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Implications of National Grid’s decision to use batteries to help balance the UK power grid

National Grid, the UK transmission operator, recently awarded seven providers, EDF, Vattenfall, Low Carbon, E.ON, RES, Element Power and Belectric, with four year contracts to provide 200MW of so called Enhanced Frequency Response power than can be dispatched quickly to keep the UK power grid in balance and stable. What was interesting about this award … Continued

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The return of the war of the currents and why DC may win this time

On September 4, 1882 the great inventor Thomas Edison turned on America’s first power plant, Pearl Street Station, in downtown New York City. It supplied power in the form of direct current (DC) to 85 wealthy and influential customers in lower Manhattan including JP Morgan, the NY Stock Exchange, and some of the country’s most … Continued

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