Posts Tagged ‘Ecotricity’

The Young Turks: Electric Cars to Overtake Petrol by 2020

August 16, 2016

I know that many of the readers of this blog are keenly interested in Green issues and renewable energy. In this interesting little snippet, The Young Turks’ main anchor, Cenk Uyghur, discusses a prediction by the head of Nissan’s electric car division that by 2020, the number of recharging stations for electric vehicles will have overtaken the number of petrol stations in the UK. At the moment the number of petrol stations in Britain is 7,800 odd. This is down from the 37,000 + stations there were in Britain in the 1970s. However, purchases of electric vehicles are growing by such an extent, that they’re expected to reach 7,900 in four years time. The growth in popularity is put down to advances in one area of technology, such as batteries, driving improvements in others as more people buy electric vehicles. He also notes the example of a stretch of road that had a high number of electric charging stations installed by a company called Ecotrity, which resulted in more electric vehicles being purchased. At the moment, America is far behind the UK, with only 14,000 recharging stations for electric cars compared to 168,000 gas stations. But this is going to change, predicts Uyghur.

This is really going to drive Conservatives up the wall. They’re very heavily tied into the oil industry, and hence the Tory enthusiasm for fracking. This challenges the market dominance of the petrol industry, at least for automobiles, and hence is going to be potentially a major blow to the power of their corporate donors. Cameron and the Tories are already doing their level best to starve renewables of funds to prop up fossil fuels and nuclear power. If this really does start to go ahead, we’d better get ready to watch them try to close down the electric car industry.


Ecotricity and Solar Power in the 19th Century

April 7, 2015

Pifre Steam Press

Abel Pifre’s Solar-Powered Printing Press

Yesterday I reblogged a fascinating piece from Tom Pride’s site. Tom had posted up a little video of an interview with the chief of Ecotricity, explaining why he had donated money to and was backing Labour. The CEO stated that while he had his reservations about Labour, he thought they were the best party to promote green energy. He felt that a second term of the Tories would be disastrous for this country.

He mentioned the great benefits of renewable power, It’s decentralised nature meant that a potential failure in one of the stations would certainly be as catastrophic as the failure of a nuclear power station. Furthermore, people were able to generate green energy at home. You can see this in practice today with the number of ordinary houses with solar panels on the roof.

The potential of sunlight as a source of power has been known since the ancient world, when Archimedes in the 3rd Century BC sank an invading Roman fleet off Sicily by getting the Greek soldiers to concentrate the sunlight reflected from their bronze shields on the approaching ships.

Over 2000 years later, in 1882 the French engineer, Abel Pifre, demonstrated the ability of solar power to drive modern industrial machinery in an experiment at the Tuileries Gardens in Paris. He set up a concave mirror, 3 1/2 metres in diameter. In the centre of the mirror was a boiler with a valve. This operated a small motor, running at 3/5 horsepower. This drove a Marinoni press, which printed off a copy of a newspaper, which Pifre had written himself, the Sun-Newspaper.

The device operated from one O’clock to half past five, printing off the newspapers as the rate of 500 copies an hour.

The solar press was ingenious, and demonstrated the immense potential of the technology. It doesn’t seem to have been taken up because it was uneconomical compared to coal and later the petrochemical industries. Despite this, such machines clearly have massive potential and may at last come into their own as the world tries to move away from fossil fuels because of the harm they do to the environment.

And fans of Steampunk literature can always have fun imagining what might have happened, if the Victorians not only built Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, but also had the eminent good sense to power it and their cities with solar power.