October 2022 Smart Energy News

By Pilgrim - October 14, 2022

Another busy, busy month in the Smart Energy world

Smart Energy

  • France’s nuclear reactors are being brought back online after more than half have been offline. 50 of the 56 are due to be operational by end of the year.
  • It seems ⅔ of Germans do now want nuclear power after all (10k sample size).
  • Speaking of nuclear, this provoking analysis says pricing PV & wind on LCOE (total cost to build vs. energy produced over their lifetime) is unfair, because doesn’t include storage to cope with intermittency. Unclear whether nuclear costs include disposal, accidents etc. either, but it’s a view. Would love to see an independent analysis of new SMRs as proposed by Rolls Royce - in particular, how “turn up and downable” (dispatchable) they are - one of the big issues with legacy nuclear is that it takes days to tune it to operate just at criticality, making it non-dispatchable. China are building loads of new nuclear, including the first SMR.
  • While interconnectors often help-out when one part of Europe isn’t windy, there is often quite a lot of corrrelation, so the whole continent can get stuck in something of a Dunkelflaute together - see last months’ EU wind figures
  • China switches on both a 400MWh vanadium flow battery, and a 400MWh compressed-air storage battery.
  • The Energy Bill, major UK legislation, has been put on hold while government investigates the feasibility of
    • decoupling electricity prices from the global gas price, I assume by creating a “green” market and a separate “fossil fuel” market, as advocated by Michael Liebreich. Presumably fossil would still then supply to green to fill any gaps, but green consumers would only pay gas prices for that extra bit. Presumably retaining Capacity Payments to ensure that someone bothers to keep that extra bit available, even as it dwindles?
    • moving to “locational pricing” to reflect varying supply and demand (and the greenness thereof) across the grid.
  • Smart meters coming into their own:
  • Is Europe in danger of rolling electricity shortages?
  • Germany implements emergency energy-reduction legislation (not really energy efficiency per se, since the result is lower comfort) to cut gas consumption by 20% this winter.
  • Sigh, it's dogma vs. physics again: The UK’s new prime minister Liz Truss seems ideologically-opposed to issuing energy-saving advice, or even just asking people to save energy, even as our grid regulator Ofgem declares the risk of a “Gas Supply Emergency” this winter, i.e. rolling blackouts.
  • Oh, and apparently she hates solar farms too because they don't look nice, even though in terms of land area they are 70x (yes, 70x!!!) more efficient than growing biofuel and around 14x more economically-valuable to farmers (though I guess that does depend on future food prices). Today in the UK solar farms cover about 1/5th of the land used by golf-courses.
  • The UK could shave about 4.1GW off peak winter generation requirements by 2030 by deploying smart thermal stores, according to Delta-EE See my recent interview with Sunamp.
  • Greece has for the first time run 100% on solar electricity - albeit for only 5 hours.
  • Wind turbines are getting big: The new Siemens Gamesa turbine can generate enough energy in 1 day to make an EV drive 1.8 million km.  
  • Can reducing your thermostat by 1C really save 10%? More, actually (and smart thermostats even more than that).
  • myEnergi - home of the Eddi PV diverter and the Zappi EV charger - are now launching Libbi, a home battery. And they're growing fast it seems.
  • Good to see social housing thermostat company Switchee raising £6m.
  • As theories abound over who or what made the holes in the Nordstream 1 gas pipeline, the most amusing explanation I’ve seen so far is: “a metric butt-ton of hydrate plugs”.



  • Matter, the home networking standard promising the plug-and-play consumer IoT ecosystem has finally released its 1.0 spec, so several thousand certified products should be on the market by Christmas. Amazing that it’s taken IoT more than 20 years to reach this point, though Matter does contain a lot of real-world experience of how to make things easy to commission and use, robust, extensible and interoperable, which is after all about 99% of the battle in IoT. Deeper dive on Ars Technica.
  • WiFi IEEE 802.11ah, aka “HaLow”, operates in the band below 1GHz where building penetration is much better. Interesting to see Morse raising $140m to develop its HaLow chips, targeting 1km range and 8000 devices from a single access point.
  • 12 years after startup, IFTTT breaks-even with $6m/y revenue.
  • I was interviewed by IoT for All and in about 20 minutes we covered:
    • Role of IoT in energy and climate change, edge intelligence and then joining everything up
    • Current landscape, including why Matter looks like a Good Thing, and IoT is reaching the "openness" tipping-point
    • Challenges of consumer IoT, including challenges of scaling
    • Evolution of service business models - particularly for Energy 

Until next month, let’s all cross our fingers for a mild-but-windy winter - and insulate, insulate, insulate!


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