Showing posts from 2017

Elon Musk and the Huge Lithium Battery in South Australia

South Australia, the Australian state that relies heavily on wind energy to supply the power grid, faced a number of blackouts following variations in wind speed that makes energy generation inconsistent. Grid operators said that having a 100-megawatt battery could store enough energy to alleviate most of the problems with inconsistent energy generation rates. The battery should be able to sustain 100 megawatts of power and store 129 megawatt hours, enough to power 30,000 homes.
In addition to being a backup in case of inconsistent energy supply, the battery will also help reduce the cost of electricity for consumers. The battery can be charged when there is excess power when cost of production is much lower, and then distribute that energy from the battery when there is less energy available and costs are higher.
Elon Musk won a bid, beating 91 other international contestants, to produce this battery, famously stating that he would built it 100 days or else the battery would be free. …

Renewable Energy and the Electricity Grid

Solar and wind energy is becoming less and less expensive and more and more states are demanding to be powered by renewable energy. California, a leader in renewable energy usage, has a goal of operating on 33% renewable energy by 2020, and they will likely achieve the goal in time. Integrating renewables into the electricity grid is an important step towards sustainability. In order for the US to fully benefit from all of the energy sources that are available to it, they need to address the challenges associated with adding renewables to the grid.
One of the biggest challenges with renewables powering the grid is their unreliability. The grid was built on the idea that it would be powered by fossil fuels, requiring predictable, on demand energy generation. With solar and wind power, this isn't the case. When the sun goes down or the wind stops, there is no more electricity being produced. The grid operator no longer has the option to turn the electricity generator on or off.
The …

Summer is here and Texas is hot!

Ice creams are melting, air conditioners are running, and electricity bills are soaring.

Last Friday was Texas' hottest day in July and it almost broke the electricity grid. The state nearly broke the record of energy use on Thursday as people continue to blast air conditioning in their homes and offices in an effort to beat the heat. And that means people have electricity bills that are more expensive than normal. 
Compared to the other 50 states, Texas ranks 42nd in average retail price of electricity, meaning it has some of the cheapest electricity available in the states. Why is that? Probably because of customer's ability to choose their electricity provider. Consumers can be helped by companies like Wattbuy to choose the best electricity plans for them -- allowing customers to choose if they want the cheapest plan, or the plan that is powered by the most renewables.
Texas hasn't faced the worst yet as August is typically it's warmest month. With this impending h…

Will switching to a Tesla Model 3 save you money?

The short answer: yes.

If we assume you will drive 50 miles per week with a car that goes 23 miles per gallon, then you will go through 8.7 gallons of gas per month.

In Houston TX, you will pay $18.3 per month in gas.

In New York City, NY, you will pay $22.4 per month in gas.

If you were to switch to the new Tesla Model 3 the amount of money you would need to spend on the additional electricity required to charge it would be less than the amount of money you pay for gas currently.

In Houston, you would pay $7.36 per month to charge your car (saving $12.64).

In New York, you would pay $12.04 per month to charge your car  (saving $12.72).

These prices are assuming you are getting your power from the electricity grid. If you were to switch to a completely renewable electricity plan, such as powering your home through SolarCity, you would pay even less. Additionally, switching to power your home and appliances from renewables would further reduce your environmental impact as in powering and…

Do we need electricity grids in emerging markets?

Electricity grids have been powering cities across the world since the early 1900s. As the world continues to develop at different speeds, and rural areas demand more and more electricity, is the traditional electricity grid still the best option?

Providing electricity to countryside homes will likely have ripple effects on eradicating poverty and increasing the sustainable development of these areas. Kerosene lamps are main source of light at night in many rural homes in developing countries. These lamps have been known to cause injuries when broken, as the highly flammable fuel can severely burn those nearby.

Companies like d.light and M-KOPA have attempted to address this safety issue associated with kerosene lamps by developing solar powered LED lights to replace the kerosene. While these LED lamps may have a much higher upfront cost than kerosene lamps, they have very little maintenance costs and much lower life-time costs. Providing electricity to such homes not only reduces the…

Wind Energy: A Love/Hate Relationship

There is a continuous problem in the US surrounding wind farms. As coal prices continue to rise and renewables continue to fall, the US will likely begin switching to renewable energy, if not for the environmental benefits, then for the economic savings.
Source: Bloomberg
However, there is one problem facing this switch: everybody wants wind energy to supply the power grids, but don't want to see the turbines from their backyards.
A number of wind farm projects - both onshore and offshore - have been delayed or have been halted altogether because of aesthetic impact. Towns in New York state are trying their best to prevent wind farms from nearing their town’s borders to the extent that laws have been created to prevent large-scale industrial wind farms from supplying the grid and restrict locations of wind farms. Some other New York state residents will only support wind farm projects once they have been assured their ocean view will not be disturbed.
Other states’ residents are wor…

With summer heatwaves comes even higher electricity bills

Typically, summer months are where Americans consume more electricity when running air conditioners to cool their homes. The graph below averaged the amount of electricity used by residents of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Delaware, DC, Maryland and Texas from April 2016-March 2017. The data used has been normalized so that the difference in number of days per month is equal in relativity.

Over the course of the year, it is clear that the amount of energy used in the summer surpasses any other time period. And when heat waves occur, this only increases.
The Southwestern US is facing an extreme heat wave with temperatures soaring to 117-120 F. Just this week in Phoenix, Arizona, the city used a record breaking amount of electricity, as temperatures hit 119 F.
CNN reports that the frequency heat waves will likely continue to increase not just in the US, but worldwide, due to climate change. The report states that the locations …

January the Winter Month with Highest Electricity Spending

Although most electricity is used in summer months (for air conditioning), in the 2016-2017 winter months, December and January were actually the two highest months of usage.
In the 2016-2017 winter season, residents of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Delaware, DC, Maryland and Texas paid the highest electricity bills in December and January. Although the magnitude differed in each state, the data clearly shows that December and January were the months where residents paid the most money on electricity.
Why is that?
It’s not because of the number of days. The data used in these graph was normalised so that the number of days in each month would not automatically mean lesser or greater amount of energy used.
Instead, it’s because the weather was a little colder. In almost every state, the average temperature in December 2016 was significantly colder than the average temperatures in December 2015 and 2014. The average temperature …