Centrica’s new power stations and battery power stations in the UK


The construction of new power stations and battery power stations has come about as a result of the changing energy landscape.

Before, energy came from reliable sources such as coal and gas, whereas now, more and more power is coming from renewable sources like solar and wind.

While this is great during windy and sunny periods, there needs to be a backup solution. Typically, fast response plants are used during periods of high demands, but there is also a need for security of energy supply during dull days.

Here’s a look at some new power stations and battery power stations that Centrica is currently constructing throughout the UK.

1. Brigg

Part of Centrica’s £180m investment into flexible power generation and storage facilities, Brigg is a fast response 50MW gas-fired plant placed next to an existing Centrica power station.

Once complete, the new plant will operate as a highly flexible ‘peaking plant’ that will be able to go from a cold standstill up to full power in under two minutes. The plant is likely to run for a few hours a day when energy demand is high.

2. Peterborough

The same facility that has been built at Brigg is being constructed in Peterborough, and is expected to be up and running in the last quarter of 2018.

The 50MW gas-fired plant will play a key role in supporting local peaks in demand, producing enough energy to meet the needs of around 50,000 homes.

The plant will be made up of five small reciprocating engines that will typically be used on weekdays to meet periods of high demand or to provide back-up power when it’s needed.

3. Roosecote

Elsewhere, the construction of a 49MW facility in Roosecote was confirmed in December 2016.

This will be one of the world’s largest battery storage facilities, located at the site of the former Roosecote power station in Barrow.

The facility will respond to changes in the grid frequency in under a second, absorbing and exporting energy as needed to keep the grid at 50Hz.



Combined Heat & Power (CHP) converts a single fuel into both electricity and heat in a single process at the point of use.

This is more efficient (around 25% more – given conventional energy generation has an efficiency of around 50%, this is a huge difference) than traditional engines because it reduces the need to have a separate gas boiler to create heat on site. Energy generated can be stored for later use, or sold to the grid.


In addition, Centrica is also working on smaller battery projects (2MW), which will give organisations such as local authorities control over energy usage and trading.

With on site generation like CHPs and solar panels, they can store energy when there’s excess and use it for later or export it to the grid.

Also read: A new record for renewables in the UK

Image credit: Utility Week

Mercedes Formula 1 engine reaches landmark efficiency target

Mercedes Formula 1 engine reaches landmark efficiency target

During a dyno test in September, Mercedes’ Formula 1 engine hit a landmark achievement at the team’s Brixworth factory, breaking the 50% thermal efficiency barrier for the very first time.

The German automotive manufacturer’s advancement is thought to have made its M08 EQ Power+ the most efficient racing engine to date, and overall one of the most efficient car engines.

Thermal efficiency has become a key focus for modern engine developers. It is calculated by the amount of useful energy that can be produced from a given amount of heat input.

In Formula 1’s turbo-hybrid era, Thermal efficiency became particularly important as a result of the strict fuel-flow limit rate of 100kg/hour in 2014

The F1 cars are now closing in on levels of thermal efficiency reached by diesel engines used in large container ships, although gas turbines can deliver more than 60% efficiency.

This 50% mark has yet to be reached on track, but it’s much higher than a 29% efficiency peak that old normally-aspirated V8 engines produced.

Back in 2014, Mercedes’ first turbo-hybrid engine had an efficiency rate of 44% and the 2017 unit reportedly produces 109bhp more using the same amount of fuel.

A column celebrating the achievement on Mercedes’ official website said “the last time we saw these levels of power in Formula 1 was back in 2005, with a V10 that guzzled fuel at a whopping 194kg/hour” – almost double the fuel-flow rate.

Mercedes described the accomplishment of producing more power than waste energy as “a remarkable milestone for any hybrid, and especially a flat-out racing engine”.

It has used a version of its F1 engine in its new Project ONE road car, which has a thermal efficiency of 40%.

Elsewhere, Renault has promised that it’s working hard to produce a “magic” F1 engine mode for 2018, in a bid to take the fight to Mercedes and Ferrari in qualifying.

Although Renaults’ current engine is proving to be a match for rival engines in the F1, it’s lacking extra power in qualifying.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes the lack of the kind of engine mode that Mercedes has is making all the difference in qualifying.

Horner said: “The problem with qualifying is we don’t have the high power modes that our competitors have. I am sure there is close to half a second (a lap) in that.

Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul said “we don’t have that sort of ‘magic’ qualifying mode, but we are working hard on it.

“The performance of the engine will improve very sensitively for next year, not just for qualifying, but also for the race, which makes me believe that the engine will be extremely competitive,” he added.

With the United States Grand Prix taking place this weekend, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes can clinch his fourth world title if he outscores Vettel by 16 points. A second engine fault in weeks for Vettel and Ferrari in the Japanese GP has proved costly.

Also read: F1 car vs. electric vehicle: which is more energy efficient?







Image Source: James Allen on F1

Centrica’s response to Prime Minister’s Party Conference Speech


Last week, Centrica Chief Executive Iain Conn, spoke to BBC Radio 4 in response to the Prime Minister’s party conference speech. Below  is the conversation between Conn and BBC Radio 4 presenter, Justin Webb.

Justin Webb, presenter: The energy price cap is back on. In her speech, Theresa May was pretty blunt about the monopolies and vested interests, who she said held people back and one of the greatest examples, she said, was the energy industry. Britain’s biggest energy supplier is Centrica, the company that owns British Gas. Iain Conn is their chief executive and is on the line now.

Good morning to you.

Iain Conn, CEO, Centrica: Good morning, Justin.

JW: How disappointed are you?

IC: Well, my main concern in all this is for our customers as well as for other stakeholders. It creates exaggerated uncertainty and we’ve got to remember this is a draft bill aimed at giving the regulator more powers rather than actually legislating a cap. We do agree the market needs further structural changes and we also agree the Government and regulator need to enable that change. We just don’t support price caps.

JW: Why not?

IC: Well, there is clear evidence that they don’t work. In New Zealand, in Spain, in California, in Ontario, they tend to limit choice, reduce competition, and prices tend to bunch around the cap and, in fact, we’ve seen that this year in the U.K. with a new prepayment metre cap where most prices are within £2 of each other.

JW: Is it likely that there will be fewer cheap fixed offers in order to pay for the cap?

IC: Well, look, I think the problem with… one of the problems with the market today is it’s possible to offer a really cheap deal, possibly even making a loss for the supplier, and when a proportion of the customers come to the end of that fixed deal, if they’re not watching, they can be bounced straight onto a very high priced standard variable tariff price. All standard tariffs are not expensive. Ours is cheaper than 85% in the market.

JW: But hold on a second. My question is whether those very cheap deals will go as a result of this.

IC: I think that’s one of the real risks. We’ve seen it in many markets where the cheap deals go because the mechanism for people to make money out of the market has changed and that’s what I was trying to explain.

JW: But possibly… I mean, it could well be though that people accept that that is going to be a price to pay if you don’t have people who are trapped, if you don’t have people who are… who don’t have the time or don’t have the inclination or don’t have the ability to sort themselves out in the market, if those people are protected then that is a price worth paying.

IC: So we agree some people need to be protected and in fact have done a significant amount voluntarily to protect groups of customers. The main problem with the market, if I may Justin, is the standard variable tariff and rather than cap them, which will ironically keep them going, we believe the standard variable tariff should come to an end for good. We think it is better for the long-term and it will solve these problems.

JW: Well, how would that work?

IC: Basically, what you do is the regulator would need to regulate that contracts that go on and on forever can’t happen anymore. They have got to have a fixed term, and secondly, this mechanism which is in the regulation that at the end of your fixed contract, you can be pushed onto a standard tariff, that can be changed. This would change the behaviour in the market.

JW: You have only got yourselves to blame, though, haven’t you in the big companies. You have got the Competition and Markets Authority saying that he six large firms together, people have paid an average of, I think, it is ₤1.5 billion more than they would have done under a well-functioning market over a recent period. You have got your own company making a decent amount of money. You have got your own salary hugely boosted recently. I think your total package is more than ₤4 million a year. There is just this sense, isn’t there, that politically you have messed up.

IC: I have only been in this business for the last few years, but I certainly think our industry has an element of the blame in how this market has evolved. But on this point about this overcharging by ₤1.4 billion, I just want to be clear, although the CMA came up with this, it clearly isn’t right. It is more than the entire profits made in the whole market.

JW: Again, it is your word against theirs and politically, it is quite a difficult place for you to be in, isn’t it now, because you have got Labour and you have got the Conservatives, and you have got an awful lot of your own consumers saying something has to be done.

IC: We agree, something has to be done, absolutely agree and, in fact, the regulator was consulting on this at the very request of the Government and they haven’t quite reported out yet. Just to be clear, we have been working hard with the Government and Ofgem on all of this and we have our own plans to improve this market once we hear from the regulator.

JW: In a word, your message to the Government this morning is, ‘wait, don’t go ahead with this’?

IC: Our message is, ‘wait don’t go ahead with price caps, there is a much better way of solving this market for the long run.’

JW: Ian Conn, Chief Executive of Centrica, thanks very much. Dom, our business JW was listening. Interesting idea, actually, isn’t it, Dominic that you just get rid of the whole of the variable rates.

Dominic O’Connell, business JW: This is the energy industry trying to pre-empt what Theresa May is going to do and I suspect it probably won’t be enough. Once you have a Prime Minister saying, having gone back a number of times that there is going to be price caps and there is probably going to be price caps. Having said that, we don’t quite know what form the price caps will take. We have got a draft bill next week and what Ofgem, the regulator itself proposes, and Centrica’s idea will undoubtedly form part of what that cap finally takes, what form the cap finally takes. But Conn does make a very good point in that is the structure of the regulation that has in part created this market where you go onto standard variable tariffs and they end up being expensive.

Golf: burning calories, socialising & doing business


Golf – the sport of business is also a great way to burn a couple of calories whilst entertaining clients.

Unlike most sports, anyone of any age, including the 65-year-old boss of the company can enjoy a round of golf.

Golf is also typically a relaxed game, offering an atmosphere of friendly competition with low stakes.

Whether you’re playing with fellow employees to boost the office morale or going out with prospective clients, golf gives you a solid few hours to get to know these members.

In many ways, the golf course is as effective as any office when it comes to making a deal.

golf and business infographic

4 ways millennials are changing the workplace

Millennials in the workplace

Millennials are spearheading change in the workforce and will soon dominate leadership roles in many companies.

The working environment as a whole is changing rapidly, and the way things were done before is long gone. Millennials are attracted to companies that value collaboration, communication, social awareness and flexibility in work hours.

1. Collaboration

Rather than separating employees into a box, managers need to be more flexible in their approach to leadership.

Collaboration is important to employees who want to work with management, rather than being told what to do. Many millennials see leadership as an act in the workplace, and not a title.

A company’s transparency in how it goes about completing tasks is important to the younger generation. The chain of command as it was before is less significant thanks to technology making it easy for everyone to understand what’s going on at any time and offer input.

2. Communication

Millennials prefer to communicate in person or by texting. The shorter attention span, as a result to the speed with which anyone can receive news or information today, has impacted communication in the workplace.

Millennials want to get their work done quickly and they don’t have time for formalities. Digital communication is second nature as they grew up using laptops, tablets and smartphones, and this is a group of individuals who are – for the most part – used to instantaneous communication.

Whether its texting, Snapchat, email or Facebook, they have come to expect “immediate gratification,”

3. Social awareness

Just as millennials expect employers to be transparent, they also expect to know that products and services are created and delivered ethically.

A study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business revealed that 90% of MBAs from business schools in Europe and North America prefer working for organisations that are committed to social responsibility.

4. Flexibility in work hours

The former 9-to-5 workdays is a thing of the past and flexibility in the workplace is a top requested perk of a job.

Flexibility in work hours doesn’t mean less work, but can in fact lead to more productive hours of work.

Remote working is a big perk for attracting talent. Always connected, we are never truly away from the office anyway – we can check emails and complete work tasks wherever we are, whether it be at home or in a coffee shop.

The idea of work-life balance started with Generation X, but it isn’t about working less. It’s about taking part in life events, regardless of the time of day, but it also doesn’t mean that work ends at 5 p.m. sharp.

If business leaders want to attract talent, they have to be attractive to millennials – you must listen, understand, bend and trust them.

Also read: Unusual Staff Benefits: No official work hours






Diesel and petrol vehicles to be banned by 2040 in the UK


In a combat to fight a growing air pollution crisis, Britain announced in July this year that sales of new diesel and petrol cars and vans would reach the end of the road by 2040.

These plans follow France’s commitment to take polluting vehicles off the road as a step to Europe’s push to curb emissions and fight climate change by promoting electric cars.

Car manufacturers are also taking action, with Volvo recently saying that it would phase out the internal combustion engine in the coming years and BMW choosing to build an electric version of its popular Mini car in Britain.

However, this shift towards electric vehicles is not instant, but rather a gradual one set by Britain. Britain’s new clean air strategy, calls for the sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles to end by 2040.

Government has also said that it will make £255 million available for local governments to take short-term action, such as modifying buses, to reduce air pollution.

“It is important that we all gear up for a significant change which deals not just with the problems to health caused by emissions, but the broader problems caused in terms of accelerating climate change,” says Michael Gove, Environment Secretary.

Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling promised a “green revolution in transport,” adding that the government wanted nearly every car and van on Britain’s roads to have zero emissions by 2050.

Cars generally have a lifespan of roughly 15 years, so even if Britain follows through with its target, conventional engines are likely to be on the country’s roads more than a decade later.

Elsewhere, China is also eyed the eventual ban of petrol and diesel vehicles. The world’s largest car market is currently studying a move to eventually ban combustion engine cars.

“Some countries have made a timeline for when to stop the production and sales of traditional fuel cars,” said industry vice-minister Xin Guobin.

“The ministry has also started relevant research and will make such a timeline with relevant departments. Those measures will certainly bring profound changes for our car industry’s development,” he added, predicting “turbulent” times ahead for the auto industry.

Were China to go-ahead and provide such a deadline, it would greatly aid efforts to end the reign of the internal combustion engine.

China has the largest automobile manufacturing base in the world — producing more than 28 million vehicles overall in 2016.

Also read: Toyota Mirai: Everything you need to know about the hydrogen car





Image source: Richard Nelson

How technology changed the office forever

How technology changed the office forever

The digital world has shaped the way we go about doing our work and the way in which we use our offices today. Today the computer is the office – it’s got a desktop, folders, files, documents and even a litter bin.

Always connected, we are never completely away from the office and technology grows fast to keep up with the demands of the modern workplace.

Rita Dugan of Bournemouth University says: “Stress levels were not as great in the ’80s, as technology did not allow instant responses to enquiries. People tended to talk to you rather than converse electronically. This meant that issues rarely became crises, because talking tended to solve the problem.”

Technology development in the 80s

While it’s almost impossible to imagine working in a smoky environment and relying on faxes for up-to-date information, the 80s was a decade of vital technological development:

1981: The ubiquitous Post-It note arrived on our desks

1984: The first Apple Mac computer went on sale

1985: The first dot.com business was registered in 1985

1986: The first widespread use of laser printers

1989: The worldwide web arrived – the biggest single change to the way we work

Then and now:

In just a few short decades, a lot has changed in our work space. Technology has shrunk the working world, made information freely available, altered how we communicate and fundamentally changed the way employees behave and where they choose to work.

Then: He’s out having lunch so I’ll get him to call you back later
Now: He’s out having lunch but you can call him on his mobile

Then: Photocopying and handing out a memo to everyone
Now: Email to all users

Then: She’s off sick today but we’re hoping she’ll be in tomorrow
Now: She’s off sick today so she’s working from home

Then: Luke’s on holiday this week, he’ll be back in a few days
Now: Luke’s on holiday this week but you can get him on his email, he’ll be checking it regularly

Then: Faxing through updated figures once a week
Now: An online reporting system that everyone feeds into remotely and is updated in real time

Then: Handing out your business card at every opportunity
Now: Being viewed on LinkedIn before you’ve even met

Then: Booking a meeting room for a brainstorm and buying in props and pastries
Now: Could you email me some ideas please?

Then: Leaving the office at 5.30pm
Now: Checking your email at 5.30pm for any last minute requests

Then: Lever arch files
Now: Backup server

“Going to work” is now less about being at a particular location, getting face time, chatting up with co-workers and being “in the office.” In almost every industry, it is more about getting things done, servicing clients, completing projects, managing co-workers, etc., regardless of where you are.

Also read: 5 ways to nurture a more entrepreneurial culture







Driverless trains are moving ahead


A lot of the talk is around self-driving cars, but driverless trains are moving ahead and could overtake them.

While Silicon Valley tech companies and other car manufacturers compete to develop driverless cars, advances in driverless trains continue to evolve unhailed.

The trains that can operate without a supervising driver are able to regulate their own starting and stopping mechanisms and speed. Newer models are even fitted with advanced on-board computers and rechargeable batteries, and some don’t even require rails to run.

However, you cannot ignore the drawbacks. As a form of transportation, driverless trains are not versatile. They cannot navigate roads and are limited to elevated and unobstructed tracks.

Yet self-driving trains may become more and more relevant as municipalities look for greener transportation for last-mile routes between a main transport interchange, such as an airport, and a destination, like a city’s downtown area.

2getthere, a Dutch tech firm, is among the companies trying to evolve versions of driverless trains. Known as automated people movers, 2getthere is working to make these metros more accessible to commuters outside of downtown areas and more attractive to municipalities.

With driverless cars starting to interest urban dwellers, 2getthere saw an opportunity to attract people to its own automated vehicle technology.

“You have to convince people to leave their cars at home,” says Robbert Lohmann, chief operations officer at 2getthere and one of the company’s co-founders.

“The automated transportation system has to provide an added value to the passenger. Whether it’s a quicker trip time, a lower cost, or a combination of both, preferably,” he added.

In April this year, 2getthere announced a project with Dubai, where the world’s largest fleet of non-rail-guided automated people movers will be employed.

The people movers will connect Dubai’s inner-city metro system to one of the city’s planned waterfront developments, Bluewaters.

Each of the 25 automated people movers will carry as many as 24 passengers to complete the 2.5km journey in 4.5 minutes.

The people movers will not operate on a rail track, but rather on an elevated, bi-directional line. The vehicles will also have the ability to navigate public roads, however, this has not yet been specified in the project.

“The Bluewaters application demonstrates the capability of 2getthere’s systems to provide significant capacities, making them a financially attractive alternative for the expensive, traditional rail-guided APM systems at airports and campuses,” says 2getthere CEO and co-founder Carel van Helsdingen.

The line is set to run parallel to a road bridge, competing with ground transportation for traffic. Lohmann says the large fleet size and a new type of rechargeable battery will keep the automated system almost always accessible to its commuters.

The batteries of each vehicle will operate for 1.5 hours between charges, and recharging will only take 10 minutes, maximizing the system’s operating on-time. Additionally, the batteries will help decrease the vehicles’ strain on Dubai’s urban power grid.

If a success, the Bluewaters project may serve as an example to other cities to follow on how automation will bring value to their transportation grids.

“Cities and authorities at this time are still very much trying to come to grips with what automation and automated transit can mean for them,” Lohmann says. “Cities are actively working on getting experience to be able to answer that question better and quicker.”

Capelle aan den Ijssel, a town in Netherlands, already has an automated people mover system in place from 2getthere.

But next year, 2getthere is looking to build a new loop into the city’s line where 2getthere’s automated vehicles will drive alongside road vehicles, sharing public roads with other traffic.

If this trend continues to gain moment, it may overtake driverless cars.

Also read: Drone Taxis: Dubai announces passenger drone plans



Image credit: 2getthere

Mazda has developed a more efficient petrol engine

Mazda develops a more efficient petrol engine

From 2019, Japanese carmaker Mazda says its cars will be fitted with engines that largely eliminate the need for spark plugs, improving fuel consumption by 30%.

At a time when industry steers toward electric vehicles, Mazda has developed a more efficient petrol engine.

It says the compression ignition engine was up to 30% more fuel-efficient than current engines – and it plans to sell cars with this new engine by 2019.

Mazda said it would work with Toyota to develop electric vehicle technology and construct a $1.6 billion plant in the US.

“We think it is an imperative and fundamental job for us to pursue the ideal internal combustion engine,” said Mazda’s head of research and development, Kiyoshi Fujiwara.

“Electrification is necessary but… the internal combustion engine should come first,” he added.

Mazda said its Skyactiv-X engine, as it is known, would be the world’s first commercial petrol engine to use compression ignition.

“It’s a major breakthrough,” said Ryoji Miyashita, chairman of automotive engineering company AEMSS.

This will put the company ahead of rivals, including Daimler and General Motors that have worked on compression ignition for decades.

According to Mazda, the fuel-air mixture ignites spontaneously when compressed by the piston in the new engine. It said the Skyactiv-X engine combined the advantages of petrol and diesel engines to improve efficiency.

As it stands, Mazda has no plans to supply the engine to other carmakers.

Furthermore, the company said it aimed to make autonomous-driving technology standard in all of its models by 2025, a move that may be linked hand-in-hand with fully battery-powered electric cars.

With the industry steering in the direction of electric vehicles, in a bid to reduce air pollution, the UK will ban the sale of new petrol cars and diesel cars by 2040.

Volvo has also recently announced that its new car models would be developed with electric or hybrid engines from 2019, while Silicon Valley-based electric car company Tesla recently started delivering its more mass-market aimed car, the Model 3, which can travel up to 310 miles between charges with an extended range battery.


Also Read: Toyota Mirai: Everything you need to know about the hydrogen car






Formula 1 Careers – Singapore Grand Prix

Formula one careers

Instantly establishing itself as one of the most dramatic and atmospheric races on the calendar, the Singapore Grand Prix is set to provide another gripping showdown this year.

The circuit made up of public roads in the Marina Bay area accommodates more than 80,000 spectators.

With the Singapore Grand Prix just around the corner, many fans of Formula 1 will enjoy the sport only on television or in the stands.

But what if you wanted to be more involved in the sport and not just a spectator? There are many different professions that extend beyond the driver and pit crew, here are just a few:


Also read: F1 car vs. electric vehicle: which is more energy efficient?