November 2022 Smart Energy News

By Pilgrim - November 21, 2022

Our Smart Energy Person this month is Dr Karolis Petruskevicius of Homely discussing "making heatpumps smart".

Smart Energy

  • As we exceed 8bn souls on the planet, we've now made our CO2 "blanket" +50% thicker over the past 150 years (420ppm today vs. a stable 280ppm for the past 10,000 years and a 220ppm average for the past 800,000 years). But it’s just possible that we are past peak CO2 emissions per person. US emissions per capita is down to 1917 levels (though yes their population has grown 3x since then). Let’s see how fast we can go down the other side.
  • The UK’s independent Climate Change Committee bemoans our “lost decade of home insulation” and sets out what we need to do now to hit 2050 goals.
  • The UK’s Energy Price Guarantee scheme, a temporary subsidy on high gas prices, has driven a change in the meter privacy clause which on the face of it seems to give the government access to detailed personal energy use.
    • This is of particular concern to those with Smart Meters because of how much personal information can be revealed by their relatively high-resolution data. An of-cited example is that a German group demonstrated in 2012 that you can tell which programme someone is watching on TV just by looking at smart meter data - though this was with 2-second data, not half-hourly readings. But even half-hourly can reveal quite a lot about a home.
    • As Karolis highlights in this month's video (top), smart meters are a key enabler for the green transition. It's fine if data is analysed anonymously to drive policy. But as with all personal data there’s a trade-off between risks and benefits, which needs to be navigated with informed consent. This has been raised in Parliament by the UK’s only MP with an engineering degree
  • 6 months in, the UK's "boiler upgrade scheme" (aka heatpump subsidy) is off to a fairly slow start (though people generally don't volunteer to get their heating replaced during the winter)
  • Tidal Stream Energy seems to be hitting its stride: LCOE in UK & France has fallen by 40% since 2016. To me the interesting realisation is that turbines should basically be moored boats, with everything except the turbine kept out of the water for easy maintenance. Of course each turbine provides only intermittent power because the tide flows up and down, but it’s totally predictable, and tides happen at different times around the UK (e.g. while one end of the UK’s South Coast experiences low tides, the other end is experiencing high tides, so interconnectors solve intermittency).
  • Space heating: Sadly hydrogen seems to have become the frontline of the fossil fuel lobby’s attempts to delay the transition. Recently UK political parties have been subject to intense lobbying claiming that installing heat pumps is too hard and converting gas boilers to hydrogen is easy. Refreshing to see Michael Liebreich staunchly using the laws of physics to debunk this nonsense. TL;DR:
    • Green H2 for heating requires 5.7x more renewables
    • Their cost numbers are not from green H2 but from blue H2, which requires the mythical carbon capture & storage.
    • Interesting point here that the end-game for the gas network can come quite suddenly, as the cost of running becomes borne by ever-smaller number of customers (analogy with copper telephone lines). 
  • The Energy Catapult’s Living Lab shows early signs that householders may be using 30% less energy for heating vs similar temperatures last year as we head into winter - only a small sample but tallies with similar stats from Germany.
  • Social housing thermostat company Switchee hosted a Deep Data Dive event which taught me that:
    • 7m UK households are already in fuel poverty, expected to rise to 10.7m by April.
    • At risk means “in past 3 months, when house occupied, 50% of time below 18C”.
    • From 2021 to 2022 the number of (social housing?) homes meeting this criterion has risen from about 2% to about 14%
    • Great for policy-makers to have hard evidence to work with, and for care organisations to be able to target people in trouble.
    • Discharging people from hospital back into homes that caused their condition costs UK £1.5bn/y.
    • Charts
  • Waste heat map for the UK.
  • Austria legislators are banning not just new fossil-fuel heating but considering also actively driving end-of-life for oil-fired by 2035 and gas heating by 2040.
  • Tado's SPAC deal is off, and a regular IPO now more likely, as it posts +100% YoY growth.
  • Germany extends the life of 3 nuclear power plants at least through this winter. China is planning to build 150 reactors
  • Tesla solar is apparently bailing on PV retrofit to focus on new-build.
  • Solar panels last a looong time (this one degraded only 8% in 40y) but... what then? Can they be recycled? Increasingly yes with 90%+ value recovery.
  • Great thread on the many ways to store electricity to shift production to match consumption - though it could have mentioned that shifting demand is easier, faster and cheaper than any of them.
  • With Gigafactory startup BritishVolt narrowly avoiding administration so far, Tesla starts to crank on energy storage - up 62% YoY in Q3 to 2.1 GWh
  • How much storage would get Australia to 100% renewables? About 5 hours.



Until next month,


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