Who is Elon Musk?

Did you watch the SpaceX rocket launch a few weeks ago? Wasn’t it exciting? I don’t remember such anticipation about something going into space since the Space Shuttle was withdrawn from service. We’d all got a bit blasé about stuff shooting into orbit. But this was different - suddenly rocket launches were back in the news again!

This wasn’t NASA though, or some other state sponsored space programme, but a private company. Who on earth has enough money to experiment with rocket launches? Some chap called Elon Musk, apparently. I was sure I’d heard of him before, something to do with electric cars? Well that didn’t really sound right though, on the one hand putting your life savings into building a cool eco car to persuade the petrol heads of the word that they don’t need to kill the planet with their emissions, but on the other to be burning tons of oxygen sending stuff into space. A bit of an enigma.

So, I had a bit of a think about what sort of guy I imagined Mr Musk to be. Probably getting on a bit to have amassed enough of a fortune to be splashing it about on space rockets. Or maybe a very charming young man with an extremely convincing manner who’s persuaded other people to join his adventure.

But what’s the reality? Somewhere in between would be a fair assessment from what I can gather. He’s currently the 53rd richest person in the world, so can fund pretty much anything he fancies all by himself. He’s also 46, so he’s been working on that fortune for quite some time - since he was 12 in fact, when he developed and sold a computer game for $500. He seems to have applied himself to his studies after that, right up until he threw caution to the wind two days into a PhD in physics, deciding to become an entrepreneur instead.

From there on in he seems to have gone from strength to strength, being involved in the foundation of PayPal along the way. SpaceX and the rockets came out of Mr Musk’s lifelong interest in colonising Mars. He’s been quoted as wanting to die on Mars. After he’s had his fill of mars bars of course. I’m not sure he was actually talking about the chocolate ones when he mentioned mars bars last week as something he’ll be looking to have plenty of up there on the old red planet. So in answer to the old question ‘is there life on mars?’ there will be if Elon Musk has anything to do with it!

By Amanda Street

Published in the In transition section of the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser.

22 Apr 2018

Switching suppliers saves money and CO2

We have good news that you may not be aware of. You can switch to an ethical energy supplier and save money!

Yes, times are changing and with renewable installations and technology improving, many renewable only suppliers are offering better tariffs than the Big 6.

But you do need to put in a little effort in as a crisp eating consumer. And that means getting off the couch and calling up one of these suppliers and making the switch ... but who do you call? Dorking Solar Group have teamed up with ethical tariff comparison website Big Clean Switch, who will find the best offer for you.

Big Clean Switch is a website that allows you to compare the tariff you currently pay with those of ethical suppliers who generate their electricity from 100% renewable sources (and we mean no nuclear!). A typical UK home will save £270 from their service.

So if you're fed up with current politics, then let your consumer voice be heard and make the switch. And, with the money saved you can buy a new tele that will run on 100% renewable electricity.

Please visit: www.bigcleanswitch.org

14 Apr 2018

Not such a bad day for UK renewables

Renewables still have a long way to go before becoming our primary source of electricity generation and intermittency still remains a major hurdle.

Nevertheless, our energy mix is improving. Consider this interesting fact:

At midday on the 21st of March 2018, the UK electricity demand was 44GW. Roughly 30% of this demand was met by a combination of wind and solar which generated 7GW and 6GW, respectively. Wind generation had a record year last year, representing 15% of the UK's energy mix in 2017, up from 10% in 2016.

If you would like a detailed breakdown of the UK's electricity demand and supply, visit the following:

http://gridwatch.co.uk

Also, if you would like to compare the electricity mix between multiple countries, visit the following:

www.electricitymap.org

22 Mar 2018

The Nissan Leaf is riding the EV take-up wave

When the Nissan Leaf was first launched in 2010, there was a lot of uncertainty around the future of electric vehicles (EVs) in an industry which has been dominated by fossil fuel motors for over a century.

The Nissan Leaf is leading the charge in the EV market, no pun intended. At late 2017, it had sold ~300,000 vehicles worldwide since it was first introduced, and sales are expected to accelerate from here on.

The new 2018 Leaf includes a 40kWh battery with a best-case range of 230 miles although under real world conditions this range drops to ~170 miles which is enough to get from London to Manchester on a single charge. It is also worth noting that in 5 degree celsius weather, the average range is 110 miles as there is more stress on the battery. Nevertheless, like all technologies, that of battery storage is only improving and the Leaf's range by 2019 is expected to be 310 miles. For long journeys, public rapid charge points can charge about 80% of the battery in about 40 minutes. For everyday transport, the battery can be charged at home on a 7 kW charger in under 8 hours, preferably at night which is cheaper and causes less strain on the grid. So assuming a 7p /kWh night rate, you can drive for just under 2p a mile. Compare that to an average mile on petrol at ~14p. For 100,000 miles, this equates to fuel savings of £12,000. Other savings on EVs include tax exemptions on Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), the London congestion charge and the T-charge. There is also a government grant capped at £4.5k for the purchase of an EV, as well as £0.5k for a home charger.

In addition to improvements in the battery, other technological improvements of the Leaf include regenerative ebraking, assisted driving & parking technolgies as well as energy saving heat pumping. The vehicle can also go from 0-62mph in 8 seconds, which is comparable to traditional sports cars.

In addition to advanced technology and operational cost savings, the Leaf is affordable, priced between £22k and £27.5k which includes the government grant mentioned above. And it should only become more affordable with time, not just the Leaf but EVs in general. Factors such as Government support, developping public charging infrastructure and stiffening competition are contributing to an amplifying wave in the sector.

The UK and France announced in 2017 that they are to ban diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040. In the same year, the UK announced a four year £250m investment plan to develop battery technology in order to support domestic EV manufacturing.

Speaking of domestic manufacturing, did you know that the European production base for the Leaf is in Sunderland? Also, in August 2017 Nissan announced that it was increasing the factory's output (all cars included) by 1/5 to meet an increasing demand for Nissan vehicles.

Other private sector initiatives include Tesla and Daimler's respective $5bn and €0.5bn investments in battery production factories, as well as Volvo's announcement to move to hybrid or EV only production by 2019.

Market experts estimate that EVs represent ~0.5% of the global car market, but see this rising to somewhere between 5-10% by 2025, which should continue on thereafter at an increasing rate.

10 Mar 2018

Teaming up with leading community finance provider for solar on schools

Dorking Solar Group is teaming up with Energy4All (E4A) to provide community financed solar to schools. E4A is a professionaly managed cooperative which supports community energy share schemes with a strong track record of success. E4A has supported numerous cooperatives, including the Schools Energy Cooperative (SEC) to which it has provided £1.2m to 32 schools for a total installed capacity of 1.2MWp since 2014! And it does not stop there, as SEC and other cooperatives under the E4A umbrella such as Wey Valley Solar and Repower Balcombe are still looking to install panels on schools before the government terminates the subsidies in April 2019.

The panels provide long term fixed electricity rates to the school which are lower than current rates. In addition, the pupils benefit from the educational aspect of the technology while reducing the school's CO2 emissions. All this at no cost to the school. Local investors receive a reasonable return and the profits remain local (as opposed to unconcerned foreign shareholders). Dorking Solar Group is supporting the initiative by sourcing interested schools and informing the community of any local share offers.

If any one reading this knows of any potentially interested schools or you would like to invest in a community scheme (Amounts as low as £100), please do get in touch. We look forward to getting a project off the ground by the holiday term this summer. Remember that DSG is a non profit society, operated by volunteers. Any assistance you can provide will always be much appreciated. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

For more information on community energy projects visit the following links:

-Wey Valley schools video: Wey Valley Solar Schools Co-operative To Install More In Surrey Schools

- Repower Balcombe video: 'We are changing the world' - the fracking village that's going solar

-Energy4All video: Energy4All: Communities and Sustainable Energy

24 Feb 2018

Past 3 years are the hottest on record

The World Meteorogical Group (WMO) confirmed that 2015, 16 and 17 were the hottest years on record.

2016 was the hottest at 1.2 degrees celsius above pre industrial era while 2017 and 2015 were roughly the same at about 1.1 degrees celsius above pre industrial era. Part of the record high temperatures in 2017 can be explained by the El Nino phenomena, whereas 2017 only had slight effects from La Nina.

Increases in surface temperatures have the effects of rasing sea levels and causing stronger storms. These were made clear in 2017 with the breakoff of an Antarctic iceberg twice the size of Luxembourg as well as the Atlantic hurricanes which caused an estimated $270bn of damages, marking 2017 as the most expensive disaster year in US history.

14 Feb 2018

Bullimores install Electric vehicle charge points

Bullimores have recenly installed two new 7kW EV chargers in their car park, which complements their solar panels which the firm of chartered accountants installed several years ago. Effectively, the electricity generated from the panels will now also charge vehicles while they are parked, eliminating the need to stop at a petrol station.

“The move towards EVs appears inevitable so we see the installation of our two new 7 kW Charging points as just the natural next thing” said Partner, Terry Edwards. “These will be available for both our employees and clients to use. We hope that other businesses will follow suit by putting Dorking on the map as a forward thinking, environmentally aware place to live and do business”.

8 Feb 2018

Tesla test drive for quiz winner

Steve McDonald, co-founder of the Dorking Solar Group, and a young local car enthusiast about to experience a test ride in a Tesla Model S, offered as the prize for scorring high on an EV quiz taken on Dorking Gala Night in December. Tim Rault-Smith, Tesla owner said, “ I am very happy to support the work of this local community group, especially in their new business venture - installing Electric Vehicle charging points.

3 Feb 2018

Thank you to everyone that attended our last event

DSG would like to thank everyone that attended our last event at Burgundy and Black Tuesday 9th January.

To kick the new year off, we discussed some of our past and future projects which include solar pannel and EV charge point installations.

Energy consultant and group member Paul Street also shared some insights on energy generation trends.

Links to presentation videos are listed below:

- WWF video on sustainable cities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o86Ut6kAEMQ

- Electric vehicle video: https://justevs.com/blog/volts-for-oil-fully-charged/

- Reuters short report on 2017 being 2nd hottest year on record: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-temperatures/2017-was-second-hottest-year-on-record-after-sizzling-2016-report-idUSKBN1ET1JF

Thanks again to everyone that shared concerns and suggestions. We look forward to seeing you again at the next event.

Lastly, we are currently looking to add members to the group and intensify our efforts, so if you feel like you could contribute in any way possible, please do get in touch.

10 Jan 2018

Free event - launch of new venture in Dorking

Join us for an hour on Tuesday 9th January for the launch of our new Electric Vehicle Charging Point venture.

Date: Tues 9 Jan 2018

Time: 7.30pm

Venue: Bergundy and Black bar, St Martins Walk, Dorking

The agenda is :

  • An introduction to community energy and our values
  • Cleaning up the grid
  • Urban Green video
  • Launch of our EV venture

Thank you for supporting us in helping the push away from dirty energy to cleaner options. This is so important to the future of our planet.

3 Jan 2018