The Tesla Model S makes a statement of success

Articles

The Tesla Model S makes a statement of success

The Tesla Model S makes a statement of success

In this exclusive series of articles by David Spratt, he explores the electric vehicle (EV) options for specific business uses. Part 2: Evaluating the Tesla Model S P100D electric car What do you get when you mix an eccentric, Los Angeles-based, internet billionaire with the desire to build an electric vehicle with speed and acceleration to challenge the world’s top performance cars? The answer is the Tesla 100S, complete with vegan leather seats and “bio-weapon defence mode” to keep the car’s air fresh in case of anthrax attack. I started test-driving the Tesla S (P100D model) with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Excitement because I knew this vehicle could take me from zero to 100kph in less than three seconds; and trepidation because of the $250,000 price tag and more personally the $5,000 insurance excess I agreed to when I signed for the car test. After a week, the fear of crashing a car worth more than the deposit on a Ponsonby house had almost completely gone but the sheer thrill of an EV accelerating in Tesla’s infamous, “Ludicrous” mode remained days after I tearfully gave the car back. Long range So, what makes the P100D so special apart from its raw power? First is the range. This beast will travel from Auckland to Taupo and back on a single charge. That’s 600km. Despite reservations about charging and spare tyres, the Tesla 100S is, bar none, the most exciting and innovative car I have ever driven. There is a downside though. Recharging the 100kW battery from empty in your garage power point means a 36-hour wait. But for around $8,000 you can install a special Tesla charger at home that dramatically reduces this time. After failing the home charging test, I resorted to Tesla’s free charging stations (there are six across the country, with many more to come). This will recharge from empty in less than an hour. I also tried using the Counties Power free charger in Pukekohe, only to discover that the Tesla charging cable requires a special adapter to fit standard charging stations. As this adaptor was not provided, I skulked home and resorted to an overnight top-up before driving to town and the Tesla service centre, where the unfailingly helpful people charged my car and provided the adaptor. No dirty hands Speaking of not provided. The Tesla Model S has no spare tyre. Instead you push the help button, and someone turns up and changes it for you! This service comes free for the life of the car and includes towing you home if you run out of electric charge. Ah to be that rich! When driving I felt safe and in control throughout, even around the challenging corners of Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges. Traction control, adjustable suspension and the stabilising weight of the Mosel S’s powerful batteries made for responsive handling and comfortable road feel, this despite the Tesla’s extraordinary performance characteristics. The Tesla even comes with “Santa mode”: listen to Christmas carols and glimpse a sleigh pulled by reindeer on the screen while winding the car out to a top speed of over 250kph (in controlled conditions at Hampton Downs racetrack of course). The bottom line. Despite reservations about charging and spare tyres, the Tesla S is, bar none, the most exciting and innovative car I have ever driven. With companies like Tesla driving change, the future of the EV is in safe hands. I give the Tesla Model S an ecstatic 8.5/10. *Thanks to Tesla NZ for providing the Tesla S model for trial. For all the specifications visit www.tesla.com

Mercury's pioneering direct grid-connected battery: it’s large and in-charge

Mercury's pioneering direct grid-connected battery: it’s large and in-charge

During the recent two-day EMANZ Conference that I attended in Auckland with our Energy Manager, Tânia Coelho, I was struck by the surge of genuine enthusiasm for and commitment to renewable energy from the diverse group of Energy Managers and others who attended. In this regard, our country is in the fortunate position that 85% of our electricity supply already comes from renewable energy, mainly hydro-electricity, geothermal and wind-generation based. Successive National and Labour Coalition Governments have made a strong and binding commitment to New Zealand meeting its global carbon emission reduction obligations. To achieve these commitments in practice, New Zealand will need a sustained and integrated programme, to utilise rapidly evolving technology in this area. The following guest post by James Flexman, Wholesale Markets Manager, Mercury highlights some of the excellent work in the inter-related areas of solar power and battery storage, that their company is championing. Innovative Battery Technology Has Potential to Disrupt Fundamental Aspect of Electricity Market The crazy thing about the electricity market, the thing that sets it apart from almost all other markets, is its immediacy. Electrons are the ultimate NOW product. They’re right here, right now, turn on the switch, see the light. New Zealand’s sophisticated spot market and all its intricacies have been developed to work with electricity’s time-bound quirk of physics and deliver reliable, affordable and mostly renewable electricity to Kiwi homes and businesses. But now this non-negotiable is being challenged. There’s a ‘disruptive technology’ on the scene that, like a kind of Timelord, has the potential to substantially diminish the impact of time and timing on the generation, dispatch and ultimate use of electricity. We’re talking about the exciting new opportunity created by super-batteries that can charge up with electricity from the grid and store it, before being re-dispatched into the electricity market. Grid-Connected Battery Research & Development Last week Mercury launched its own 1MW/2MWh battery storage facility at our R&D centre in South Auckland. For context 2MWh of electricity could power 400 homes for a winter evening peak for 2 hours. On its own, it’s not going to change the world and it’s also definitely not for the short-term gain. The rate of return based on trading 2MWh of electricity in and out of the national grid means it would take many years to break even on the $3 million investment. Being directly connected to the grid, and able to send energy into the market like a little 1MW power station makes this battery a Kiwi first. And there’s potential for much more. So what are we expecting in the medium to long-term from this pilot? The clue is in where the battery has been installed – in Mercury’s R&D Centre in South Auckland. For us, it’s all about the ‘R’ part of ‘R&D centre’: Research. And at a time when the Government is calling for greater investment in R&D in this country, I’d like to do a quick shout-out celebrating the constant ongoing investment in R&D undertaken by Kiwi businesses every day of the week. The battery is a pilot, a toe in the water, part of the New Zealand electricity market’s ongoing exploration of battery storage as the technology evolves, to work out what part batteries will play in the energy generation eco-system of this country. We believe there’s potential here. Reflecting on the first generation in New Zealand (for power, not gold processing) at Reefton, it was a 20kW generator – and look what hydro generation has grown to and its role in our economy now. Battery Pilot a Milestone for Innovation And it’s a true innovation. Mercury is the first company in New Zealand to install a battery system that is directly connected to Transpower’s high voltage national grid and to use the battery to participate in both the energy and reserves markets. Others have explored other ways that battery storage could interact with our current energy landscape – Counties Power together with Genesis, Vector and Alpine Energy have all commissioned batteries that can participate in the energy market, but these are also used to manage local networks better. Being directly connected to the grid, and able to send energy into the market like a little 1MW power station makes this battery a Kiwi first. And there’s potential for much more. The storage facility is on the site of Mercury’s mothballed thermal power station next door to Transpower’s Southdown switchyard which is capable of moving over 100MW in and out of the grid. However, despite the facility being able to accommodate battery storage of this size (similar to the much publicised South Australian battery project that Tesla committed to (and did) build within 100 days), trading at this scale will only start once the R (Research) has turned to D (Development). But once this happens, (when battery technologies develop further and costs of large-scale batteries drop), the lessons we have learnt from our investment in 2018 will give us a fast start to capitalise on this exciting opportunity. Grid-Connected Battery Research May Lead to Paradigm Shift There is also some other work that Mercury has been doing that will benefit us as well as all future battery traders. This work (which also involves Transpower and the Electricity Authority) is addressing current regulations that need to be adjusted to accommodate the participation of battery stored electricity in all aspects of the NZ reserves market. The use of large-scale batteries to store energy from times of lower usage and make it available when it’s most needed could make a real difference to the way power is supplied to homes and businesses over the coming decades, particularly as populations grow. At scale, the lowest parts of the demand curve will be raised as electricity will be generated and stored in batteries and the highest peaks of demand will be offset by electricity being re-dispatched from the batteries back into the market. In a future world, when the investment that companies like Mercury are making in R&D has led to large-scale battery storage in New Zealand, this flattening of the supply-demand curve should lead to more efficient use of current generation capacity. We see all these future developments as great reasons for our research investment now. And we’re proud to be pioneers in this field that has so much potential to change the New Zealand energy market to everyone’s benefit.   See how the direct grid-connected battery will work in New Zealand’s energy eco-system

Power Factor: Dark Arts and Wizardry?

I joined the energy industry 11 years ago this week, the time has flown by and a lot has changed since 2007. Technology has been the driving force and is currently revolutionising the energy market. While the fundamental mechanics remain similar, the way in which pricing is determined for end users (customer) has evolved rapidly and the future only suggests more change with Solar and other distributed generation becoming more cost-effective, battery storage, electric vehicles, blockchain peer to peer energy trading through to the potential of multiple retailers supplying energy to a single ICP connection. The Mysterious Case of the Power Factor Power Factor remains somewhat like a dark art in the industry, it’s a small charge often hidden on one line of your power bill, there is no graphical data on the bill that tells you about it and it often sneaks past the accounts payable or finance team as they just see the whole invoice cost and when it is due. Energy Retailers typically know very little about it if questioned, the common line is that “it’s a pass-through charge that we don’t control, you need to talk to your network.” Which is usually met with, “you need to talk to your energy retailer” from the network. For the basics on power factor, my article What is Power Factor is recommended reading. Power Factor Pricing Some distribution companies (local area electricity network owners), mostly in the North Island, have been charging large commercial and industrial customers reactive energy charges for some time. These networks have typically centred around the central North Island, Hawkes Bay, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Auckland. While the networks do apply this charge differently, typically it averages out to be $7 per reactive kilo-volt amp per month ($7/kVAr/mth). In addition to this, some networks charge a peak kVA demand charge as well and if power factor is low during peak demand intervals customers are hit with a double whammy as a poor power factor inflates the kVA reading. In the last couple of years, there has been quite a bit of discussion within the market from distribution companies about the way in which they price and how they will maintain large network infrastructure in a distributed generation environment. For the most part, the bulk of all electricity customers pay a cents per kWh charge to distribution companies as a way for them to recoup the cost of maintaining the network. This pricing structure is simple, which meets the requirements of residential and small business customers as it is easy to invoice and easy to understand. However, this way of charging was designed before smart metering, before the digital revolution even. The smart meter rollout across the country is by and large complete, which opens the door to time of use pricing in order to try and drive better usage behaviour from customers. Benefits of Demand-Based Pricing While time of use capacity and demand-based pricing has been a staple of some distribution companies for large commercial and industrial customers, it is likely that we will see this type of pricing extend to medium and small commercial customers in the future. This type of charging will assist the network operators to ensure the security of supply as more customers install solar panels and batteries throughout the grid, reducing the amount of volume (and revenue generated from variable usage charges) being transmitted throughout local area electricity networks. We are already seeing this happen as PowerCo Western (New Plymouth) has introduced a nominal power factor charge for small/medium time of use metered customers in the last couple of years. This mirrors the way in which Vector (Auckland) re-introduced power factor charging in 2010, pricing was gradually increased over a period of 3 years allowing time for customers to see the power factor charges appearing on their invoices and make steps to rectify the issue. WEL Networks (Hamilton) recently introduced nominated capacity charges for low voltage customers where customers are required to set their expected capacity requirements, like the gas industry’s maximum daily quantity, if the customer demand exceeds the nominated capacity then expensive excess demand charges apply. WEL also recently changed from charging peak kW demand to peak kVA demand, further underlining to customers that they need to keep tabs on their power factor or face paying more on the monthly power bill than they need to. Power Factor Doesn't Have to be Mysterious In large measure, power factor is a relatively simple fix if you know who to talk to about it. It can be one of those easy savings made without having to change behaviours, train staff or make a structural change to the way in which you do business. There are other benefits too, such as increasing the effectiveness of energy requirements and negating the need to upgrade supply if you are short on capacity. It can also improve the lifespan of sensitive computer-controlled equipment and improve harmonics. While it can seem like a bit of wizardry is required to rectify power factor issues, those in the know don’t need a magic wand, it’s pure science.

IT Security for New Zealand Businesses – The threat within

Data protection is the process of safeguarding important information from corruption, compromise or loss. Many of us will have watched with some concern the ongoing reports of hacking, ransomware (where a hacker locks or encrypts your company data and demands a ransom before releasing it) and data theft by outside agencies. IT Security Threats Pose New Risks for Owners and Directors As owners and Directors of businesses in this country, we cannot ignore the real risks presented to our companies by theft or destruction of company data. Stricter laws governing Director’s responsibility make risk management and mitigation very personal. Henri Elliot, Founder and CEO of Board Dynamics commented to me recently, “It is essential Directors take a strong position on all forms of risk. Risk should be on the Board’s agenda each month and should be appropriately categorised. For example – is a staff member taking a list of clients a company policy issue? An HR issue? An IT security issue? In truth, it is all of the above and Directors need to take a holistic approach.” Security Risks Are Mainly Internal The scary thing when we consider the risks around IT is that it is not the sneaky Russians or the depraved teenage geeks who represent the real threat to most businesses. In fact, it’s often quiet Jane from Finance or good old reliable Mac from Sales who represent the real and present danger. If you think I am being a bit dramatic (and my wife would agree with you) think again. Here are a few things that should give you food for thought. Nearly two-thirds of employees surveyed, who leave an organisation voluntarily or involuntarily, say they take sensitive data with them. That is a real wake-up call when you consider that your staff will almost inevitably have access to sales and customer records, design secrets and new product plans. Nine out of ten Information Technology (IT) staff surveyed indicated that if they lost their jobs whether through redundancy or by firing would take sensitive company data with them. Techies are extra smart, often socially inept and prone to impulsive behaviour when stressed. Just because Jason the geek is a bit dishevelled in the morning doesn’t mean he is not capable of revenge served cold. So how does Jane, Mac or Jason walk out the door with your most valuable secrets? In truth, they probably don’t. Your worst enemy is email. Over a quarter of data, thefts have been as simple as attaching a file to an email and sending it home or to a friend. Next on the IT security threat list for most small to medium businesses is that convenient friend, the USB stick. In many cases, these data downloads start quite innocently with your trusted person downloading files, so they can work from home.  It’s only when they are preparing to leave that the true value of the customer list they downloaded becomes clear. I can dwell on ways you can lose your company data, but in truth, this only serves to make you overly fearful. Instead, let’s look at a couple of the signals that your data may be at risk. Signals Your Data Might Be at Risk  Negative Work Events Laying off or firing staff, whatever the reason should be a signal that your data is at risk. A huge proportion of internal IT security failures come from a desire for revenge. If you are planning to terminate a staff member it is important that you monitor that person’s behaviour. A surge in large data files being downloaded or emails to an unusual address should be a huge red flag. Complacency In many cases, data security failures are just a case of staff members, managers, or owners who just don’t get it. Data is valuable only if you see it that way. The signals of complacency are often clear. You should be troubled by people violating simple IT security policies like keeping passwords protected. It is the company who will pay and the staff who end up with their jobs at risk if you ignore the knowingly irresponsible behaviour. Next month I will run through the key things you can do to reduce the risk of insider security threats without treating your much-loved people as if they are criminals.  

New Branding and New Services

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings. Drawing is the honesty of the art. Salvador Dali Today Total Utilities announces its new branding. Over the last 18 years we have worked hard to assist companies in controlling consumption and cost. It's an exciting day for us and we are proud to share this with you. From today you'll see a change in the way we look, including our new ribbon logo. The spherical shape represents the whole as we take a 360 degree approach to understanding our clients and their utility requirements, whether it be Energy, Waste and ICT or Insights, Strategy and Solutions. What doesn't change is our desire to create a sustainable future for New Zealand businesses and how they manage their utilities by continuing to deliver ongoing value for our clients. We continue to work hard to provide new services to assist our clients such as Energy Monitoring and Targeting through wireless non-intrusive energy senors, Cloud Computing Analytics for consumption of computer services and qualitative and quantitative reporting aligned to overall financial strategy. Total Utiltities About Us Presentation We remain committed to delivering a personalised service and assisting our clients navigate a rapidly evolving commercial market place by underpinning strategic thinking. I would like to thank our existing clients for your continued loyalty and confidence in our company. To prospective clients, I hope that you will partner with us to discover real world solutions for sustainable utility consumption and cost optimisation.

Articles

BMW i3 electric vehicle review: Making savings skating about town

Posted 27 August 2018 by David Spratt

In this exclusive new series of articles, I explore the electric vehicle (EV) options for specific business uses. We are grateful to the car companies* for supplying their EVs to test-drive, charge and parade around Auckland. Part 1: Evaluating the BMW i3 electric vehicle The reality for all businesses is that electric vehicles (EVs) have to deliver on the promise of performance, economics and relevance. Many business vehicles never leave town. Whether they are driven from business to business by busy salespeople or thrashed by couriers, what is required is a car that is reliable,...
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Future Trading Conditions for Energy Market Becoming More Difficult

Posted 4 August 2018 by Richard Gardiner

Until now, articles on the Total Utilities website have always been of direct relevance to the utility markets where we have operated since 1999. In this case, we have included Jonathan Eriksen’s latest quarterly investment commentary below because it puts in wider New Zealand and global context the macroeconomic trading conditions that impact directly and indirectly on the utility providers in New Zealand. I have an economics background and have known Jonathan since I emigrated to New Zealand 25 years ago. He is one of the leading actuaries in the country and his independent...
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Caution urged on New Zealand's 'gung-ho' climate change approach

Posted 24 July 2018 by Richard Gardiner

This excellent article in Energy News says it all for me. A reality check which deserves to be published in the mass media! Unlike New Zealand politicians who are only interested in scientific research that validates their particular view of the world, this acclaimed Cambridge University academic knows what he is talking about and has no ideological axe to grind on Climate Change. - Richard Gardiner, Managing Director, Total Utilities. The following article was originally written by Gavin Evans and published on Energy News Michael Kelly has nothing against walkways and cycle...
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Solar in a Renewable Based Energy Market

Posted 12 June 2018 by Chris Hargreaves

It is well known that in New Zealand, energy generation is largely renewable. Around 65% of generation is hydro-based mainly in the South Island and around 15% is geothermal based through the central to the eastern side of the North Island. In the following series of articles, we will look at the pros and cons of commercial solar installations in the New Zealand market. During the last National-led Government, there was little emphasis placed on increasing the uptake of large-scale Solar (with the current Labour-led Government this may change) as it was seen merely as converting from one...
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Cost Savings Stack Up on Electric Vehicles

Posted 12 June 2018 by David Spratt

In this fourth and final article evaluating whether electric vehicles are a fad or the future, I conclude they are indeed the future. I can feel the cold chill of the climate change deniers and petrol heads breathing down my collar as I write. I love a grunty V8 as much as the next Kiwi. But the words, “Show me the money”, aren’t restricted to a Tom Cruise movie. Yes, there are issues around the distance range, price and style options of electric vehicles (EVs). Yes, you will require a three-phase electricity supply if you want to charge your EV in less than eight hours....
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Plenty of power for electric cars in NZ

Posted 9 May 2018 by David Spratt

In this Part III examining whether electric vehicles (EVs) are a fad or really are the future, we consider the implications for the supply of electricity and more. What happens when New Zealand stops importing oil and substitutes it with hydro, geothermal, solar and wind energy to make our cars and trucks work? To start with, New Zealand would move from a current account deficit to a budget surplus. That’s good news all round. Save money on oil, save the planet, sleep easy at night. Except… There are 3.9 million registered cars and trucks in New Zealand. They consume $11.8...
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