Video Interview: The future of energy with Gab Barbaro

future of energy

The energy sector is undergoing fundamental change and the market is currently experiencing massive innovation. British Gas is the headline sponsor of the brand new Energy Live Future event – taking place on 7 June.

Managing Director at British Gas Business, Gab Barbaro discusses the event:

He says: “There’s going to be a wide diversity of companies coming together. Tesla will be bringing along ideas around battery storage, and large corporates from the telecommunications industry and the networks will be joining us to bring new ideas together.”

Also watch business leaders discuss how they cut down on energy bills.

Video Interview: The future of energy with Gab Barbaro

future of energy

The energy sector is undergoing fundamental change and the market is currently experiencing massive innovation. British Gas is the headline sponsor of the brand new Energy Live Future event – taking place on 7 June.

Managing Director at British Gas Business, Gab Barbaro discusses the event:

He says: “There’s going to be a wide diversity of companies coming together. Tesla will be bringing along ideas around battery storage, and large corporates from the telecommunications industry and the networks will be joining us to bring new ideas together.”

Also watch business leaders discuss how they cut down on energy bills.

Britain achieves first ever coal-free day ‘since Industrial Revolution’

226. coal-free day

Energy sources such as gas, wind, solar and nuclear allowed Britain to keep things switched on for 24 hours without the use of coal-fired power plants.

Last Friday (21 April 2017) saw Britain’s energy demand be met without the use of coal power for the first time since the industrial revolution, according to National Grid.

Prior to this, the UK’s longest period without coal power had been 19 hours – achieved both on a weekday and weekend in May 2016.

A spokesman for National Grid said the record period was a demonstration of things to come, with coal-free days becoming more common.

Inrecent years, coal has significantly decreased, accounting for only 9% of electricity generation in 2016, down from 23% in 2015, as coal power plants have closed or shifted to burning biomass such as wood pellets.

Britain was the first country to make use of coal for electricity when Thomas Edison opened the Holborn Viaduct power station in London in 1882.

Now, as part of a government plan, Britain’s last coal power station will be forced to close in 2025, to meet its climate change commitments.

“The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition. A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again”, says Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK.

She added: “The direction of travel is that both in the UK and globally we are already moving towards a low carbon economy. It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green, technology.”

Head of climate and energy at WWF, Gareth Redmond-King, described Britain’s first coal-free day as “a significant milestone in our march towards the green economic revolution”.

“Getting rid of coal from our energy mix is exciting and hugely important. But it’s not enough to achieve our international commitments to tackle climate change – we haven’t made anything like the same progress on decarbonising buildings and transport. Whoever forms the next government after the general election, they must prioritise a plan for reducing emissions from all sectors.” He added.

Hydroelectricity: What the future of hydropower holds



Space-based solar power: Powering the earth

Solar Power In Space

Around 1.2 billion people in the world don’t have access to electricity. A further 1 billion don’t have reliable electricity networks needed for powering medical equipment and other basic requirements, according to a United Nations Foundation report.

“Solar power satellites introduce the profound capability to send clean, constant energy nearly anywhere in the world, which would be huge for places that don’t currently have reliable electricity,” says Paul Jaffe, a spacecraft engineer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

Why solar panels in space are a good idea?

Of all the energy sources available on earth, the sun is as good as it gets. However, on earth, solar power is generally reduced by night, cloud cover, atmosphere and seasonality.

Solar panels also take up a lot of land, and around 30% of all incoming solar radiation never makes it to ground level.

“To power the entire world with solar power, we would need to cover an area that’s 92% the size of Nevada in solar panels, and that’s not even counting the batteries,” says Lewis-Weber in his published a paper, New Space.

In space the sun is always shining, there is no weather to compete with and there’s no atmosphere to reduce the intensity of the sun’s rays. In addition, the light that would reach the panels would be 27% brighter, as it would not need to filter through the atmosphere.

How will space-based solar power work?

Self-assembling satellites are launched into space, along with reflectors and a laser transmitter or microwave.

The reflectors or mirrors would spread over a vast area of space, directing light radiation onto solar panels.

The solar panels will then convert the light into either a laser or microwave and send undisturbed power down to earth. Power-receiving stations on earth would collect beams and add it to an electric grid.

space solar power

The Challenges of space-based solar power

Powering the earth would require a LOT of solar panels, and launching all of these up into space is by no means cheap.

A single SpaceX launch costs around $60 million. This means it could cost tens of trillions of dollars to send up a meaningful number of solar power satellites.

Paul Jaffe, who works on space-based solar panels at the U.S. Naval Research Lab, says, “The launch cost is one of the most influential factors in determining the cost of space solar.”

“Without that cost coming down, or using some alternate means to put the spacecraft in place, it’s not going to compete [with fossil fuels] on price”, he added.

In conclusion, space-based solar panels remain a tempting possibility in providing reliable and clean energy to people in in developing countries, or to disaster-stricken areas, without having to rely on the traditional grid to a large local power plant.


Image Source: Courtesy Artemis Innovations

The power produced by runners competing in the London Marathon

London, UK- April 13, 2014: London Marathon in Canary Wharf aria, massive sport event for professionals and amateurs sportsmen, Champions League

The London Marathon is considered one of the biggest marathon events in the world, attracting runners of all ages and abilities on one course.

From Blackheath to Greenwich, across Tower Bridge and through the Isle of Dogs, the layout of the marathon route means that spectators can move between different points to cheer on participants.

How much energy does it take to run the London Marathon?

According to Common calculations, the average runner burns around 100 kilocalories per mile.

The London Marathon is a sweaty 26.2 miles, starting near Greenwich Park and ending at St James’ Park.

This totals to 2,620 kilocalories burned throughout the marathon.

With this total, we can then work out how much power is generated by converting this figure into a unit for measuring electricity.

By converting this figure to watts and then kilowatts, 2,620 kilocalories equates to 3.045 kWh.

The power of a single runner

Using the total of 3.045 kWh, a single runner completing the marathon could power:

  • A 40W energy-saving light bulb running for 76 hours straight
  • Charge a smart phone for an entire year
  • The same amount of power a 6kW wind turbine would generate in a windy location

The power of the entire marathon

This year a record total of 253,930 people are expected to participate in the London Marathon.

If a single participant competing in the marathon uses an equivalent 3.045 kWh of energy, then the total amount of energy consumed by the entire marathon would be a mammoth 752.3 mWh.

An average house in the UK uses 4,600 kWh a year in electricity. This means the whole of the London Marathon could exert the equivalent energy needed to power 164 homes for a year.

Timings and what to expect this year:

The event will see Jemima Sumgong defend her title in the elite women’s race, while Kenenisa Bekele is among the star names in a stellar elite men’s field.

The 37th edition of the London Marathon is set to produce more Guinness World Records, and the race promises to be one of the best yet.

The marathon takes place on Sunday 23rd April, 2017, starting at Old Billingsgate at 08:40 – this consists of three-mile races for different youth categories.

The official start times for are as follows:

08:55 – London 2017 World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup in association with the Virgin Money London Marathon elite wheelchair race

09:00 – London 2017 World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup (ambulant athletes)

09:15 – Virgin Money London Marathon for Elite Women

10:00 – Elite Men and the British Athletics and England Athletics Championships for Men and Women and the Virgin Money London Marathon Mass Start

Here’s how other major events such as the Grand National and the Boat Race compare to the London Marathon in terms of power generation.


The worlds 10 most powerful power stations

most powerful power stations

Power stations, also referred to as power plants, are industrial facilities that generate electric power.

Here is a list of the worlds 10 most powerful power stations.

 1. Three Gorges Dam: China

Three Gorges Dam China

Capacity (MW): 22,500

Annual generation: 98.8 (2014)

Type: Hydro

The Three Gorges Dam in China is the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity (22,500 MW). In 2014 the dam generated 98.8 terawatt-hours (TWh), holding the record at that time.

The annual power output of the plant is estimated at 85 TWh. The hydropower station supplies nine provinces and two cities, including Shanghai.

2. Itaipu Dam: Brazil & Paraguay

Itaipu Dam Brazil

Capacity (MW): 14,000

Annual generation: 103.09 (2016)

Type: Hydro

The Itaipu hydroelectric power plant with an installed capacity of 14,000 MW ranks as the world’s second largest hydropower plant.

Located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, the dam set a new record in 2016 producing 103,09 MWh; surpassing the Three Gorges Dam plant in in terms of energy production.

3. Xiluodu: China

Xiluodu China

Capacity (MW): 13,860

Annual generation: 55.2 (2015)

Type: Hydro

The Three Gorges Project Corporation developed the Xiluodu power plant, in addition to Three Gorges.

The Xiluodu is a 285.5 meter tall and 700 meters long double-curvature arch dam. It is also the third tallest arch dam in the world.

4. Guri: Venezuela

Guri Venezuela

Capacity (MW): 10,235

Annual generation: 47 (average)

Type: Hydro

The Guri Dam is a concrete gravity and embankment dam in Bolívar State, Venezuela. It is 7,426 meters long and 162 meters high.

The power plant is made up of 20 generating units of different capacities ranging between 130 MW and 770 MW.

5. Tucuruí: Brazil

Tucuruí- Brazil

Capacity (MW): 8,370

Annual generation: 21.4 (1999)

Type: Hydro

The Tucuruí Dam is a concrete gravity dam located on the Tucuruí County in the State of Pará, Brazil. The main purpose of the dam is hydroelectric power production and navigation.

The installed capacity of 8,370 megawatts delivers electricity to the Belém town and the surrounding area.

6. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa: Japan


Capacity (MW): 7,965

Annual generation: 60.3 (1999)

Type: Nuclear

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is a large, modern nuclear power plant built on a 4.2-square-kilometer site. It is the largest nuclear generating power station in the world in terms of net electrical power rating.

The station was located 19 km from the epicenter of the second strongest earthquake to ever occur at a nuclear plant. This resulted in the plant shutting down for 21 months.

Currently, safety improvements are being carried out and the plant remains closed.

7. Grand Coulee: USA

Grand Coulee- USA

Capacity (MW): 6,809

Annual generation: 21 (2008)

Type: Hydro

Built on the Columbia River in the state of Washington, USA, the Grand Coulee is a gravity dam that produces hydroelectric power and provides irrigation water.

The 6,809 MW project consists of three power plants, as well as a concrete gravity dam spanning 168 meters in height and 1,592 meters in length.

8. Xiangjiaba: China

Xiangjiaba- China

Capacity (MW): 6,448

Annual generation: 30.7 (2015)

Type: Hydro

The Xiangjiaba Dam is a large gravity dam on the Jinsha River, in southwest China.

The dam is China’s third-largest hydropower station following the Three Gorges Dam and Xiluodu Dam.

9. Longtan: China

Longtan China

Capacity (MW): 6,426

Annual generation: 18.7

Type: Hydro

Longtan Dam is a large roller-compacted concrete gravity dam on the Hongshui River in China.

The dam is 216.2 metres high and 849 meters long, making it the tallest of its type in the world. The dam was created to produce hydroelectric power and also aid flood control and navigation.

10. Sayano-Shushenskaya: Russia

Sayano-Shushenskaya Russia

Capacity (MW): 6,400

Annual generation: 24.9 (2013)

Type: Hydro

Located on the Yenisei River, near Sayanogorsk in Khakassia, Russia, the Sayano–Shushenskaya Dam is the largest power plant in Russia and the 9th-largest hydroelectric plant in the world.

The power plant consists of 10 Francis generating units with a capacity of 640MW each.


Image 1: | Image 2: RLM Infinity | Image 3: | Image 4: | Image 5: Geopolítica do Petróleo | Image 6: Japan Times | Image 7: thinglink | Image 8: Alstom | Image 9: rccdams | Image 10: Olga Saliy

6 contingency planning tips for small businesses

contingency planning

Contingency planning is a must for small businesses, which can face even more potential emergencies than larger businesses.

Any unexpected situation that interrupts a company’s normal operations can be harmful to its financial health and professional image — if not dealt with properly. The harsh reality is, most small business are unprepared.

Small business owners can carry out contingency planning by following 6 easy steps:

1. Identify the key risks for your small business

Is the issue data theft? Flooding? Are several of your staff potential maternity or paternity leave candidates?

Identifying the most likely setbacks that will impact your business, will help you focus your contingency plan and not waste time and money preparing for events that are highly unlikely.

There’s no point in planning how to recover from a hurricane, for instance, if your business is not located in an area that is hurricane prone.

2. Determine operation essentials

Entrepreneurs should decide what’s absolutely necessary for their small business to start operating again if a disaster or illness forces the business to close.

Steps should then be taken to ensure that these essential resources are quickly available if needed.

3. Establish employee roles

Identifying employee roles and responsibilities is key in the case of an unexpected event.

A good way to go about this is to create a step-by-step list of actions to take post-event. This will help staff to pick up and continue working in your absence.

4. Cover your business with the correct level of insurance

Fire insurance is an example of one possible disaster your small business could experience. Along with other obvious disasters such as wind damage and flooding, entrepreneurs must also consider the damage that could result from theft.

If your business offers professional services or advice, you’ll also want to consider a professional liability insurance policy.

Having the proper type of insurance to cover your risks will go a long way towards getting your small business up and running again if disaster strikes.

5. Cover your business with adequate insurance.

Successful data backup and protection is crucial for protecting your business’s continuity.

Today, all, if not most businesses are built around some form of valuable data. Losing this data can cause major problems for small businesses, which is why it’s important for business leaders to ensure that data is backed up properly.

Creating a small business disaster plan is important in order to prepare for potential cyber security threats, storms and office closures.

6. Evaluate your contingency plan

Twice a year, business leaders should review and revise their contingency plan. This should address things such as staff changes, economic factors and other relevant issues to your business.

It’s easy to put off business contingency planning. There are always current emergencies that require your immediate attention.

However, one needs to consider how significant these emergencies are compared to an event that could shut your business down for weeks.

Taking the time to prepare your business contingency plan will pay off immensely if disaster or illness ever strikes.


Commute safety: travelling safe every day

Commute safety

Commuting to and from work is part of our weekly routine. If you’re not lucky enough to be within walking distance of your workplace, you’ll have to make use of some form of transportation.

Whether you’re cycling to work, catching a bus or train or driving your own personal vehicle, here is how you can make sure that you commute safely.

Travelling by bike

Cycling is the most fuel-efficient way to travel to and from work.

The leisure of having a bike lane is great. You get the ‘road’ all to yourself, but in many city environments, bike lanes don’t always exist.

Travelling on nothing more than a little metal and rubber, the bullies of the road; cars, busses and trucks are huge armoured tanks in comparison.

Many people associate this form of travel as one that is dangerous, however, only a few people do get hurt riding their bikes, with the vast majority of bike riders commuting safely.

A few easy ways to minimise the danger of bike riding include:

  • Always wearing a helmet
  • Sticking to the rules of the road
  • Staying aware of what is going on around you
  • Riding in a straight line (swerving makes cars nervous)
  • Looking behind you before turning.

Travelling on buses and trains

It sounds obvious, but knowing the time your bus or train is due to leave, will save you having to wait around or rush.

It’s particularly important to know the time of the last bus or train home if you’re travelling at late hours, this is to avoid being stranded on your own.

It’s also advised that you trust your instincts about whom you sit or stand next to. If you’re feeling uncomfortable with one of the other passengers sitting near you, you can get off at the next stop and change carriages.

Also, try and sit in a carriage with a lot of people. If there does happen to be a thief on board, you’re more vulnerable to attack if you’re alone in a carriage with just one other person.

Other safety precautions to note include:

  • Catching a bus or train somewhere well lit
  • If someone attacks or touches you shout to other passengers
  • Keep your mobile phone out of sight
  • Don’t discuss personal details.

Travelling by car

There are a few safety features to consider when purchasing a vehicle:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • 360 Air Bags
  • Automatic Braking
  • Lane Departure Warnings
  • Blind Spot Detection
  • Back-up Assist Cameras
  • Anti-lock Braking System

In relation to proper vehicle safety comes proper vehicle maintenance. No matter how safe your vehicle is initially; if you don’t keep it running and in shape, the possibility of something going wrong can increase.

Possibly the most important driving tip is to keep your focus on the road and what you’re doing. Commuting the same route every day can become tiring and monotonous, and you can easily become distracted.

Also, don’t text and drive, don’t fiddle with your GPS while you drive and don’t eat while you drive.

Keep your focus on the road and what you’re doing, and you’ll be aware and prepared for anything.



Grand National vs. The Boat Race: Generating enough energy to power 100,000 TVs

British Gas

British Gas compiled data to highlight the power generated by man and horse during the UK Boat Races and the Grand National.

The UK Boat Races

Watched by thousands this past weekend (Sunday April 2nd) along the banks of The Thames between London’s Putney and Mortlake, and by millions more on TV around the world – The Cancer Research UK Boat Race lived up to its spectator hype.

The Boat Race is an annual rowing race between the Oxford University Boat Club and the Cambridge University Boat Club – this year, it was Oxford who claimed victory.

The Grand National

The Grand National, held annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, is the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of £1 million in 2016.

The handicap steeplechase takes place over 4 miles 514 yards (6.907 km) with horses jumping 30 fences over two laps.

It’s estimated that a quarter of the UK adult population will bet on the Grand National this year, and a TV audience in excess of 10 million is expected to tune in to watch the drama.

0000_Britsh Gas Business_Horses vs. rowers infographic Twitter V2-01

Comparing the power output of man and horse

A racehorse completing the Grand National will use twelve times more energy than an entire Boat Race crew.

British Gas Business research shows that the average male Blue Boat rowing team could generate almost 2.3KWh, the same amount of energy needed to power 200 televisions.

Meanwhile, a 450kg thoroughbred completing the Grand National could use enough energy to power almost 2,500 televisions.

Up to 40 horses compete in the Grand National. If every horse was to cross the finishing line, the total energy used combined with the two Boat Race teams competing could power more than 100,000 televisions across the country for the duration of the respective races.

Could manpower and horsepower generate enough energy for a business to operate?

The average workplace computer uses 0,09 KWh per hour when in use. This means that the average male Blue Boat rowing team could power a workstation for 26 hours.

A racehorse competing in the Grand National will power the workstation for 312 hours.

A compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) uses 0.014 KWh per hour. A single rowing team competing in the Boat Races could generate enough electricity to run a light bulb for 19 days or 165 hours.

A single racing horse will run the same light bulb for 228 working days or 1980 hours.

The beauty of both manpower and horsepower is that we’re not relying on the erratic nature of the wind or the sun. Of all the renewable fuels, it is unlikely that any is more sustainable than our own bodies.

Self-powering gym workstations are currently one way the human body can help produce electricity.

Technologies such as this will not save the world’s energy crises anytime soon, but they remain a foundation for generating clean energy in the future.


Power on the go: 4 things to consider when buying a power bank

Portable power bank

It’s often frustrating when you’re on the go and your smartphone or tablet dies.

This is where having a portable power bank charger can make a huge difference in keeping your devices fully powered wherever you are. With the increase in their usage for staying connected, there is a need to keep them charged at all times.

Here are 4 key considerations to help you choose the right portable power technology that best suits your travel and power needs.

1. Capacity

If you’re not carrying too many devices when you travel, then you will only require a portable bank with a low capacity to charge your phone. If you’re charging larger devices, such as an iPad or tablet, then you’ll require a higher capacity power bank.

The higher the milliampere hour (mAh), the more capacity the power bank will have. If you have a cell phone with a 1500mAh battery, then a capacity of 1500mAH can fully charge it once. Here is a usage guide:

1500mAh battery: Mobile phone (1 full charge)

5200mAh battery: Mobile phone (2 full charges), Tablet (50% charge)

10000mAh battery: Mobile phone (4 full charges), Tablet (1 full charge)

Higher mAh unit power banks are also available, and there are charges that can power almost all devices, including laptops, iPads, tablets, iPods, action cameras and all mobile phones.

2. Cost vs. Quality

Batteries can explode. Some battery pack makers will tell you on the packaging where the batteries are sourced from.

So, while the cheaper brand-less battery pack sounds like a great deal compared to a branded one, its almost impossible to tell if it cuts any corners with the short circuit, over charging, and temperature protection mechanisms in order to pull off the low price.

3. Portability

Most power banks come with a built-in USB cable, so you don’t have to worry about leaving your devices USB cable at home.

To cater for iOS users, some power banks contain a built-in Lightning cable instead. These often tend to cost more than USB options because they cater for Apple products, where licensing and certification program fees have to be paid.

Higher capacity banks usually come with more than one USB charging port. The biggest advantage of having multiple charging ports is that you can charge more devices at the same time.

If you’re using more than one port, identify the total output current of the battery pack. For example, if you’re using a battery pack with two 2A/5V ports, an output of 2A will be used when only one port is being occupied.

If two ports are connected, the total output may be limited to 3A, with each port getting 1.5A. If a power bank has a total output of 4A, then both devices will be able to charge as fast as they can.

4. Power output

The output of the charger should be equal to the input battery voltage requirement of your device. If it’s lower, you may drain your device’s battery, rather than charging it.

Most power banks will charge mobile phones and mp3 players, but only a selected few can fully recharge your laptop battery.

Larger electronic devices such as this may require a 12V – 24V output rating that is available in larger portable battery packs.

If you’re constantly on the go for business or pleasure, a power bank is definitely worth investing in.