Author Topic: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.  (Read 15946 times)

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Offline Dave

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Kickstarter campaign

From what I understand, you pay 50 bucks to get some sort of adapter, that... uhm... has an illuminated sign? :-//

But seriously, what? ???
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Offline FrankBuss

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2015, 12:14:45 am »
Kickstarter campaign

From what I understand, you pay 50 bucks to get some sort of adapter, that... uhm... has an illuminated sign? :-//

But seriously, what? ???
Discussed here. I think it is a energy meter with bluetooth, but you are right, the description is not very accurate what you exactly get, other than that you have to pay twice for your energy.
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Offline meeder

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 09:31:28 am »
It basically enables people to buy a clean conscience...


 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2015, 10:01:37 am »
Yes, it's not very clear how it actually works.
Obviously it logs the energy used and then you pay for it with buying solar credits through some third party company or scheme. They don't tell you any details on that, they make it out to be just magic.
So it's not a scam, it's just a way to track your energy usage so you can "offset" that use by paying. Like "carbon credit" to offset your airline flight etc.
In Australia you can buy renewable solar/wind energy as part of your bill, just a few cents for KWh surcharge on each bill. This KS allows you to do the same things, but with any product wherever you are.
Meh, neat, but there are easier ways to do it.
 

Offline tom66

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2015, 10:49:50 am »
In countries with "deregulated" (LOL) energy provision you can just switch to a supplier that provides clean energy for everything. In the UK it will cost you about 10% more than the lowest dirty offers, to get 96%+ renewable energy.

Yes, but you're still powered by coal. If the coal power stations went offline, you'd lose your supply.

You probably aren't even offsetting emissions, because as a result of solar and wind construction more fast-reacting less-efficient natural gas plants are necessary to fill in the gaps.

So this product, along with Ecotricity's "green" energy, and Tesla's claim that superchargers are solar powered (lol), is bullshit.
 

Offline tom66

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2015, 12:44:30 pm »
Well, coal provides about 20-30% of the UK's energy needs. We'd certainly notice the absence, that's for sure...

Ecotricity's model among others is to buy as much solar/wind/etc energy as you use, but that's not the same as buying it when you use it (do they use smart meters or ondemand pricing?), and doesn't solve the massive problem with renewables which is that an enormous amount of grid level storage is needed to make them work. Something on the order of 300-500GWh for the UK, which at optimistic $200/kWh Tesla pricing would cost at least $60 bn dollars to implement. 

I am pro-nuclear (using GenIII+ reactors) but natural gas and wind will be needed to compensate for the slow load response of nuclear power.

Tesla superchargers are powered by coal, natural gas and nuclear. They are still cleaner than most diesel or petrol cars when using this supply, but they aren't powered by solar canopies as Mr Musk has claimed. I think someone did the calculation that if a car turned up only every few days then it could be a net contributor. But since there aren't any on-site batteries they are still grid powered.
 

Offline tom66

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2015, 09:48:18 pm »
No, it's not.

Solar generates energy when it's sunny, around 12-3pm is the peak, and this is when most people are at the office and not using much energy at home. When you arrive home at say, 6pm, maybe put the TV on, lights on, oven on etc. the energy usage goes up... but it's DARK... so you aren't getting solar energy. And wind energy is intermittent - so you may or may not be benefiting from that - wind tends to have long-running peaks and troughs so a pure wind household may only have energy for part of the month.

The end result is YES, while your usage is provided by nuclear and renewables overall ("net zero emissions"), the important problem of the mismatch between demand and supply of renewables is not solved and so if the coal plants were to go offline tomorrow, you would lose your supply (even if you were theoretically connected to a separate ecotricity grid using renewables exclusively)

This is why products like the SunPort are bullshit feel-good plugins. Ultimately they don't solve the mismatch problem and while they statistically make it look like the grid is renewable for them this won't happen until massive amounts of grid storage is implemented.

Of course, this does not apply if you configure your peak usage to be around 12-3pm, for example if you work exclusively from home or have a storage battery installed. However I would guess for most people this is not the case and so these net zero tariffs actually delay the implementation of necessary storage to make renewable energy work, which imho should be a priority (although the world's lithium ion battery factories would be at full pelt for 100 years, so we need to look at pumped storage or molten salt storage systems instead.)
 

Offline Deathwish

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2015, 09:51:09 pm »
Think I will go design a solar charger, you go sunbathe with a few beers, then later plug yourself into the mains to discharge. :scared:
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Offline free_electron

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2015, 10:45:42 pm »
so these guys found a perpetual way of free income milking the goody-two-shoes goat-wool-socks movement.

Someone produces solar for free and sends it into the grid. A certificate is created. Sunport buys certificate
Sunport meters your current consumption and 'consumes' said certificate. All for a small markup ..

and i quote : "Choosing to use solar with SunPort is kind of like buying organic food or fair trade coffee. You pay just a little more because you care about where it comes from."

so you pay more for the same electrons. they consume the solar credit for you and charge you for that 'service'.

They ain't getting my money. This is a genius way on their part to make money of the whole thing. It's a caroussel.

Wanna really do something for the environment ? Get solar on your own roof and buy a full electric car.  Nothing will change just cause you have a yellow plug ... you're just giving money to man in the middle. Solar power should be cheaper than regular power ( it is )
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Offline zapta

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2015, 11:04:56 pm »
A guy sells a $40 device that when used allows him to collect additional electric use tax. That's ingenious. Beats selling refrigerators to eskimos.
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Offline tom66

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2015, 10:06:15 am »
There is a lot of renewable/clean energy -- I am not denying this. UK figures from 2014:

Installed capacity of solar = ~5GW (Capacity factor = 0.25)
Installed capacity of wind = ~10GW (Capacity factor = 0.2~0.4)
Installed capacity of nuclear = ~18GW (Capacity factor = 0.99)

Plenty of power *IF* they're all running at high capacity factors. If not, who knows?

Here is the problem. Solar is not available at night. And if wind can't supply the power then you only have nuclear. But that is not a solution as nuclear is slow to respond to changes in load - it only provides a base load. Here is an example of the issue with wind power - the power output is too variable to rely on nuclear alone which can take days to change output levels. (No UK installed nuclear stations have a reliable and repeatable method of dumping excess power into a heatsink - all energy that the turbine generates must go into the grid somehow.)

So, you are powered by natural gas and coal. You might not like this idea, but I will guarantee you this: ecotricity, even if only their customers existed on the grid in their current numbers, could not support the energy demand without fossil fuels, because of the unpredictable or intermittent nature of most types of renewable energy. Your lights would go out on windless nights. Which are not that infrequent.

What ecotricity are saying is that at the end of the month/year whatever they will have pledged to buy at least as much renewable green energy as their customers use. Brilliant! But that is NOT the same as buying the energy when it is used, and only helps to increase the massive mismatch in power usage vs supply (i.o.w. the California "duck curve" - look it up)

The other problem is if ecotricity claim to only rely on nonrenewable nuclear power when renewables are running low, then this will not be available in the next 5-10 years (UK gov't plans only one functional reactor by 2023) and they will have to invest in grid storage technology to continue to claim to be clean. This is a fundamental problem with renewables, it's quite easy to solve, just really expensive and no-one seems to want to do it because people like yourself are quite happy to buy into the green dream, when it's anything but.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 10:08:53 am by tom66 »
 

Offline Delta

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2015, 11:00:44 am »
Mojo, do you really think that when you switch on your kettle an extra 2kW spurts forth from a windfarm due to the fact that you pay your bill to Ecotricity?
 

Offline Delta

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2015, 11:18:35 am »
This site is good for getting an idea of where exactly our juice is coming from...

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/
 

Offline hamster_nz

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2015, 11:27:50 am »
This site is good for getting an idea of where exactly our juice is coming from...

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

Great site - and I also checked out the French one, that wasn't so exciting when > 96% is nuclear -   http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2015, 12:01:53 pm »
Someone produces solar for free and sends it into the grid. A certificate is created. Sunport buys certificate
Sunport meters your current consumption and 'consumes' said certificate. All for a small markup ..
so you pay more for the same electrons. they consume the solar credit for you and charge you for that 'service'.
Wanna really do something for the environment ? Get solar on your own roof and buy a full electric car.  Nothing will change just cause you have a yellow plug ... you're just giving money to man in the middle. Solar power should be cheaper than regular power ( it is )

That's not how it works on the renewable energy schemes in Australia.
When you pay an extra (optional) "green energy" charge on your bill you are forcing the provider to get the energy you use from large scale renewable source infrastructure.
The more people that take up that option the more renewable energy has to be created to match the demand. If there is no longer any capacity left then they have to build new renewable energy plants to provide it.
Thus it's a way for the public to demand and influence the creation of more renewable infrastructure, just by voting with their wallet.
I'd be surprised if that's not how it works in the US as well?

Personal rooftop solar is a great idea, but it's not the only nor the best solution for the large scale needs.
 

Offline rs20

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2015, 12:10:51 pm »
Great site - and I also checked out the French one, that wasn't so exciting when > 96% is nuclear -   http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/

That's actually >96% of local demand -- looks like they're exporting a good >20% of their electricity to neighbouring countries. To quote wikipedia, "France was the leader in the export of electricity in 2008: 48 TWh followed by Paraguay 46 TWh and Canada 32 TWh."
 

Offline zapta

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2015, 02:21:04 pm »
When you pay an extra (optional) "green energy" charge on your bill you are forcing the provider to get the energy you use from large scale renewable source infrastructure.

'forcing'?  Is this a government mandated scheme or an extra service that they choose to provide?
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Offline tom66

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2015, 02:24:58 pm »
Yes - those other sources do produce energy - but ~20TWh (excluding solar/wind) is really quite little. For example your average coal power plant produces 2GW roughly continuously, which over a year would be around 20TWh. So all of those sources have the output of maybe one coal plant. Not to mention the continuous types of renewable energy usually involve burning material, which is carbon intensive. Yes it's renewable and neutral over such a short timescale but it still pollutes the local environment which would be nice to avoid.

Mojo, do you really think that when you switch on your kettle an extra 2kW spurts forth from a windfarm due to the fact that you pay your bill to Ecotricity?
[...] Do you really think that when you turn your kettle on a block starts shovelling some extra coal into the furnace to compensate?

Well that's a straw man if I ever heard one, but it's not far off the truth. The coal power plant will increase the output somewhat under increased demand, mostly by modulating the amount of steam injected into the turbines or the amount of coal burnt. Coal is typically pulverised into a fine dust and fired into the boilers. The amount of coal dust can be varied as required for demand. However the changes will be pretty minimal (2kW/2GW = 1ppm)  but over a large scale the output produced by a power plant will indeed track demand (unlike renewables where output generally tracks supply, as available, only becoming demand limited occasionally.)

You seem to fail to understand this: clean and green renewables *cannot* work without grid storage. Ecotricity's method is just a way of making people feel good. Depending on how the natural gas plants and coal plants are cycled to meet demand it could in fact increase emissions because it forces base load plants to frequently cycle and run at less than ideal efficiency.

Please note I have no opposition to correctly integrating renewables in the grid, I have just reached the conclusion from evidence seen that they will not work without grid storage and that is where investments should be focused.

The French are going off nuclear power. They realized that it's basically welfare for their energy companies, far too expensive: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/france-loses-enthusiasm-for-nuclear-power/

Nuclear is so expensive because of all of the NIMBYs and over-regulation of the industry. Nuclear power is safer than coal yet it seems that EDF is gunning to replace nuclear with coal. In my mind that gets a big thumbs down.
 

Offline zapta

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2015, 02:59:26 pm »
Mojo, do you really think that when you switch on your kettle an extra 2kW spurts forth from a windfarm due to the fact that you pay your bill to Ecotricity?

Delta, do you really think that when you turn your kettle on a block starts shovelling some extra coal into the furnace to compensate?

Is your ratio of coal and 'green' energy different from a neighbor of yours that doesn't pay the extra fee?

It's ok to support 'green' energy with your own money. However, claiming that your house gets a different percentage of 'green' energy than your non paying neighbors is stretch.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2015, 03:02:36 pm »
'forcing'?  Is this a government mandated scheme or an extra service that they choose to provide?

Yes, it is government program, and government audited.
http://www.greenpower.gov.au/
 

Offline zapta

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2015, 03:15:48 pm »
'forcing'?  Is this a government mandated scheme or an extra service that they choose to provide?

Yes, it is government program, and government audited.
http://www.greenpower.gov.au/

I looked at the annual report. It seems that the program is not mandatory:

Quote
Since the 2012 Settlement Period the following changes occurred to GreenPower Providers and their
GreenPower Products:
? Horizon withdrew its GreenPower Product and left the GreenPower program;
? Pangolin withdrew its GreenPower Product and left the GreenPower program;
? QEnergy joined the GreenPower program and introduced its QGreen product; and
? Origin Energy withdrew the following GreenPower products: Business Green, EcoPower,
EcoSaver, Earth’s Choice and INgreen.

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Offline zapta

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2015, 05:07:18 pm »
And that's what matters, since that's where the damage is done.

Not, it's not. You cause a 'damage' at your local coal station, just like your neighbor, and paying to a remote 'green' station doesn't change the 'damage' you consumption causes.

I understand the accounting model but your home is not 'greener' than your non paying neighbor. No need to pretend.

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Offline tom66

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2015, 05:58:08 pm »
How much of Ecotricity's customer base does it cover? I assume you know, since you seem to be sure that it isn't enough.

According to previous information you have provided, 4% of your power is from nuclear (presumably 96% then comes from renewable sources.) If Ecotricity works in the way described above then 100% of your power would be from purely renewable sources - they wouldn't need that 4%.

In other words, Ecotricity can't support their current customer base even via this net zero style policy. However please note that energy in = energy out is not the only important factor here. When is the energy made available, vs when is it used, is far more important. If Ecotricity's suppliers primarily contribute during 12-3pm say, for solar, or during the peak months of the year for wind, then they could make up any shortfall on those days, when the energy is "least useful". I wonder how power sources work out on an hour-by-hour basis.

I see, so it's kind of like how win turbines can alter the angle of their blades or engage a brake when more or less energy is required. Or like how hydro plants can release more or less water, or use overflows to modulate their output. Or how renewable waste burning (which is CO2 neutral, and has capture for other particulate matter) can do almost exactly what coal plants do.

They can do this but the majority of wind turbines are simply stopped because the grid cannot take the energy they produce.  "Brilliant!" you exclaim. "They contribute so much that National Grid plc has to turn them off!"

Never mind it's a lot more complicated than just the net contribution. If they're contributing tons of wind energy at midnight, they're about as useful as a chocolate teapot, as most night-time energy is supplied by nuclear. This is unlikely to change for the next ~10 years.

The major issue is really how to shift renewable energy - which is really great if we can use it - to the time period in which it's most useful.

I have several friends in the oil and gas industry. They are scientists and engineers and fully understand AGW and its potential consequences. They also believe carbon capture systems to be misguided, and extremely costly to implement. There is no such thing as clean coal. And you can't burn waste matter and capture the CO2 without somewhere to store the CO2. In the current natural  gas situation the plan is to pump CO2 back into the wells. This is considered extremely expensive to implement and so is not practiced on a wide scale.  Where would the CO2 go from your proposal? Keep in mind, CO2 has more effects than on the environment. Releasing it in high quantities near populated areas should be avoided.

Untrue in the absolute sense, but in this case irrelevant. When there is no enough renewable generation, Ecotricity buys nuclear power instead. About 4% of the time, when I last checked. They never buy coal. Coal is only needed to support other people, Ecotricity customers would do fine without out (well, not in practice because everyone would be buying renewable energy, but in the current market...)

They, as a provider may not buy coal. You indirectly use coal. Your usage, switching on a kettle, will somewhere cause slightly more CO2 emissions.
Regardless of where you buy your energy from.

I hear this claim a lot but it's obvious bullshit. NIMBYs have utterly failed to prevent dirty coal, fracking, mining, wind farms, solar farms, new housing, new industrial development, new roads, HS2 and other bad things happening near them. Yet somehow the poor little nuclear industry is powerless to resist them, and forced to live on government hand-outs because of the crippling costs of lawsuits. It's obvious nonsense. The biggest costs are operational, dealing with waste and decommissioning, and insurance which is literally priceless.

I won't  claim to be an expert on nuclear power. However, I know a few things about it:

- The cost of nuclear power is increasing due to regulations yearly after Fukushima, yet no one died due to the plant meltdown. The plant was poorly designed, and unable to cope with a natural disaster, although it's worth noting the earthquake that struck Japan was a one-in-a-thousand years type earthquake; one of that magnitude and in that location was not anticipated.

- Almost everything used within a nuclear power plant must be processed as at least "low level waste" which is excessive, this includes things like stationary and clothing, whether or not it has been exposed.

- Nuclear power has killed, in total, under 1,000 people directly and negligible numbers due to radiation leakage, yet coal power kills over 7,000 people per year in the US alone due to lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses; the concern comes from large-scale risk vs repeatedly small-scale risk

- It is in my opinion the only large-scale low carbon energy source we presently have, and can utilise for many years to come. Wind and solar won't work unless we have something on the order of 3-5x oversupply plus grid storage.

- If an area rejects nuclear then coal WILL be built instead and nuclear is, in my opinion, the lesser of two evils.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 06:01:29 pm by tom66 »
 

Offline Mechanical Menace

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2015, 06:18:42 pm »
There is a lot of renewable/clean energy -- I am not denying this. UK figures from 2014:

Installed capacity of solar = ~5GW (Capacity factor = 0.25)
Installed capacity of wind = ~10GW (Capacity factor = 0.2~0.4)
Installed capacity of nuclear = ~18GW (Capacity factor = 0.99)

There's quite a bit of hydro too. 1.8% of capacity. Me going through a supplier who only sources from renewables and nuclear may not solve the problem but it does encourage wider adoption. But tbh electricity production is nothing compared to transport for polluting so that's where the focus should probably be. I'm sure moving some freight off of the roads and onto trains again would help immensely but meh, will never happen.
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Offline tom66

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Re: SunPort - Plug into Solar. No Panels Required. Low IQ mandatory.
« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2015, 07:56:33 pm »
NIMBYs have irrecoverably damaged the reputation of nuclear: there is too much fear and regulation behind the industry. It is virtually impossible to build new nuclear - you only need to look at current news articles regarding the new plant EDF "Hinkley C". And they include large organisations like Greenpeace who are strongly anti-nuclear, yet they do not propose a solution for the storage problem (which involves storing around 300-500GWh of energy assuming repeatable solar and wind; realistically around ten times that to provide a sufficient margin to guarantee 99.9% availability, for the UK *alone*.) I only consider nuclear to be a stop gap. I think fusion will be the future if it's shown to be practical, but if not solar and wind will be significant contributors but we MUST have installed grid storage to make them work. There is simply no other way!

Your 2kW kettle will use more power from the grid, more energy will be put in (statistically speaking) so it will somewhere produce slightly more CO2. OK, I admit it's not going to be measurable below the noise but say a million ecotricity customers switch on their kettles at the same time - you will see a significant change in grid demand which will primarily be reflected in the load on coal and natural gas plants.

It's interesting you mention that Ecotricity apparently buy energy on a 15 minute window. Ecotricity do not currently use smart meters (https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/customer-service/give-us-a-meter-reading/meter-reading-agents) and rely on monthly or quarterly meter readings. How do they know when their customers use energy? They are simply a reseller. If you bought your energy from, say, EDF instead, then EDF would be obliged to purchase or contribute at least as much energy into the grid as you use - exactly what Ecotricity do, except they promise to only buy green energy.

If they contributed energy as and when you use it, a lot of my gripes towards them would go away, as that would demonstrate they have storage capacity. Maybe you have a smart meter with Ecotricity - perhaps on a pilot program? In which case wonderful, presuming they use the data on a 15 minute window as you suggest, and not instead simply to make it cheaper to collect readings...
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 07:58:14 pm by tom66 »
 


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