Electric cars line up in Newton Abbot

Newton Abbot’s first electric vehicle (EV) roadshow held on 25th September was well attended, with lots of people stopping to chat to members of the South West EV Owners Group and others who had brought their cars along.

The event, organised by Action on Climate in Teignbridge (ACT) and ChargeWorks, a local electric vehicle consultancy, lined up 11 EVs by the clocktower.

Some of the cars were almost new, others already up to six years old. Those on parade included Nissan Leafs, Tesla Models S and 3, a Renault Zoe, Hyundai Ioniq, Kia e-Niro, VW ID.3 and a VW e-Golf – just a small sample of the EVs available today.

One Tesla owner, John, had come from Bridport in Dorset for the day to share his enthusiasm for the joys of going electric. He bought his first Tesla in 2016 and recently switched to  a newer model. He decided to buy an electric vehicle to be greener, he says. He also has solar panels, runs a wood chip range for his central heating, and is investigating a solar thermal panel for hot water.

John’s Tesla (the burnt orange one in the picture) has a range of 300 miles, but he confesses on long journeys he has to stop every 150 miles for personal reasons, and the car only takes around 15 minutes to charge on a rapid charger anyway.

David, another Tesla owner from Plymouth, says his running costs are much lower than on his old diesel car – £250-£300 a year for his 12,000 mileage, down from £1,500. Another advantage is the lack of any scheduled maintenance. Electric vehicles still need servicing regularly, to replace windscreen wipers, change brake fluid, etc, but with no emissions test and fewer parts, repairs are minimal. “You can expect to do 300,000 miles without any problem,” says David.

His enthusiasm was infectious as he talked about the technicalities of charging and the price of new cars. He says EVs may appear expensive but hold their value better than petrol or diesel cars, and as they have more space inside you can consider a smaller model than you might otherwise have done.

Emma Fancett of ChargeWorks estimated around 800 people walked past the cars and stopped to chat throughout the day. “Some hadn’t previously talked with others about the electrification or decarbonisation of private transport,” says Emma. “Others had, but were keen to find out more and debunk some of the myths they had been harbouring.

“Some walked the length of the line up, chatting to each owner to quiz them on their experiences, tips and tales, some went straight for a car they were interested in to scope it out for a future purchase or lease. Others enjoyed more general conversations around carbon emissions, the fuel crises, technology or fast cars.”

Julian Stringer of ACT says: “The selection of available EV models is expanding all the time, so we are thinking of arranging another event in the future, and would be particularly interested to hear from owners of other types of EVs at the more affordable end of the range who would be interested in sharing their experiences.”

Cars weren’t the only vehicles on show – some electric bicycle owners were also around to spread the word about the joys of two wheel travel. Richard from Newton Abbot uses his Cube bike, with a powerful 500w motor, to commute to work in Ashburton. It has cut his journey time by 10 minutes compared to his regular bike and allows him to arrive at work cool, calm and collected instead of in a lather from pedalling hard.

Richard still goes out for leisure rides on his ordinary bike, and has persuaded his partner to accompany him on the electric one. She was so impressed with the ease of cycling on it they ended up in Moretonhampstead when they had planned on just going to Bovey Tracey on the cycle path.

Electric bikes are often an addition to the household collection of bikes rather than a replacement. Once you have made the switch to an electric car, though, it seems there is no going back. “You will smile every time you get in the car,” says Tesla owner David.

Government releases its Hydrogen Strategy

Number 2 of the Government’s 10 Point Plan:

“Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade”

On 17 August 2021 the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) released its Hydrogen Strategy announcing, in the press release:

  • A ‘twin track’ approach to supporting multiple technologies including ‘green’ electrolytic and ‘blue’ carbon capture-enabled hydrogen production.
  • A UK hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million and create over 9,000 high-quality jobs by 2030, potentially rising to 100,000 jobs and worth up to £13 billion by 2050
  • Hydrogen could play an important role in decarbonising polluting, energy-intensive industries like chemicals, oil refineries, power and heavy transport like shipping, HGV lorries and trains
  • By 2050 20-35% of the UK’s energy consumption could be hydrogen-based.
  • A consultation to be launched, based on offshore wind, to look at ways to overcome the cost gap between low carbon hydrogen and fossil fuels, plus a consultation on a £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, to support the commercial deployment of new low carbon hydrogen production plants.
  • Working with industry to assess the safety, technical feasibility, and cost effectiveness of mixing 20% hydrogen into the existing gas supply.
  • £105 million in UK government funding provided to support polluting industries to significantly slash their emissions

In the original press release, and elsewhere, it was mentioned that 3 million homes would be powered by hydrogen by 2030 but BEIS have now amended the press release and confirmed that this was an equivalent illustration and that hydrogen will predominantly be used in heavy industry.

As stated in the strategy, with currently almost no low carbon production of hydrogen in the UK or globally, meeting the 2030 target will require rapid and significant scale up over coming years. It then describes where Hydrogen comes from:

“There are almost no abundant natural sources of pure hydrogen, which means that it has to be manufactured. The most common production route is steam methane reformation (SMR), where natural gas is reacted with steam to form hydrogen. This is a carbon-intensive process, but one which can be made low carbon through the addition of carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) – to produce a gas often called ‘blue hydrogen’. Hydrogen can also be produced through electrolysis, where electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen – gas from this process is often referred to as ‘green hydrogen’ or zero carbon hydrogen when the electricity comes from renewable sources. Today most hydrogen produced and used in the UK and globally is high carbon, coming from fossil fuels with no carbon capture; less than 1% can be called low carbon. For hydrogen to play a part in our journey to net zero, all current and future production will need to be low carbon.”

So in following its “twin track” approach the government assumes that blue hydrogen will initially start the strategy going with green hydrogen becoming more abundant (and cheap) in later decades. Without specifying proportions however, it seems that in both mix and, as shown below, use, the government is relying on the market to find the best combination.

Some key points:

Here is a graph from the report showing the estimated hydrogen demand in various sectors, in Terawatt Hours (TWh) (one Trillion Kilowatt hours), in 2030 & 2035.

Note in particular the 0-45 estimate for heating, this reflects the uncertainty about the lesser priority of hydrogen for domestic use and the availability today of alternatives, eg Heat Pumps. To put this into perspective the anticipated <1 TWh in 2030 and up to 45 TWh in 2035 represents about 0.2% and 10% respectively of the UK’s current energy demand for space and water heating.

It’s likely therefore that, as mentioned in the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC’s) balanced pathway to Net Zero, hydrogen may play a part in heating where the housing is near to the hydrogen production and electrification is not possible or where there is stored hydrogen created from surplus renewable energy.

Unless using this stored hydrogen however, it makes little sense to use green hydrogen for heating when the renewable energy used to create it would be better used to provide the heating directly and so save the wasted energy from conversion.

It’s often quoted that “the only waste from using hydrogen is water”.  This is true when hydrogen is used in “fuel cells”, where a chemical reaction takes place, or where hydrogen is burned in pure oxygen but it is not true when, as would be the case with heating, it is burned in air. Air’s main constituent is Nitrogen and burning hydrogen in it produces other pollutants, known as NOx. The strategy considers these and how industry must ensure they are kept within emission limits, opponents however consider that, along with the infrastructure changes needed, it’s unacceptable to plan for any such emissions.

As explained in an Annex, with an established battery electric vehicle industry now well established, cars and vans do not feature in transport assumptions, leaving the use of hydrogen for haulage, busses, rail, shipping and aviation however, given the rapid development in battery technology, the annex casts doubt over the likelihood of the first three. Consequently, as mentioned above, it seems the government will wait and see what the markets come up with.

In 2050 the strategy estimates somewhere between 20% to 35% of the UK’s total energy demand being provided by hydrogen.  In the CCC’s 6th Carbon Budget report last year, its balanced pathway relied upon a maximum of about 20%. Until the government releases its own energy pathway it’s not possible to reconcile the two.

As blue hydrogen relies on a supply of natural gas there’s suspicion outside government over its promotion as an energy source by the fossil fuel industry and studies, including this one in the USA, indicate that current production methods, including carbon capture and storage, result in significant CO2 and Methane (CH4) emissions, both in the extraction of the gas in the first place and then leakage in the capture and storage processes. 

This view was reinforced by reports that Chris Jackson, the chair of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association resigned in advance of the government’s strategy saying he could no longer lead an industry association that included oil companies backing blue hydrogen projects, because the schemes were “not sustainable” and “make no sense at all”.

As mentioned above, in its twin track approach, the government sees blue hydrogen as useful in creating a path to green hydrogen but, with BEIS talking about up to 15 year contracts, concern has been voiced among climate groups that over-reliance on blue could lock the UK into decades of North Sea gas production, fossil-fuel imports and millions of tonnes of carbon emissions. 

ACT’s view is that there will be a place for hydrogen in providing energy where electrification is not possible and in some industrial and chemical processes. With the uncertainties over the impacts of its production however and without scaled-up and effective capture and storage, blue hydrogen is wholly inappropriate as a solution and so efforts are better directed towards immediate reductions in the use of fossil fuels with any hydrogen pathway being primarily towards green hydrogen.

Other relevant links:

ACT’s Technologies to support Net Zero Section 3 Hydrogen

The Telegraph Billions to be funnelled into hydrogen subsidies as UK races to hit net zero

The Guardian Government reveals plans for £4bn hydrogen investment by 2030 

BBC News Hydrogen power offers jobs boost, says government

UKERC Pathway to net zero heating in the UK

The Climate Change Committee Hydrogen in a low-carbon economy

Travels With My BEV

Who would have thought there could be so much ‘mileage’, in having a BEV. No, not my best friend, my BEV is a Battery Electric Vehicle, writes Helen Chessum.

Bought last year just before the pandemic took over our lives, BEV turned out to be the perfect lockdown project, providing endless hours of fun looking at stats with my husband, the engineer.

BEV records your driving stats and shows how energy-efficiently you drive. My husband was keen to make sure I didn’t drive on his stats. When we came to the first review I had a little chuckle when my stats beat his. Of course, this facility isn’t exclusive to electric vehicles. Anyone can make use of these stats on newer cars to reduce their own fuel consumption. It’s not rocket science: the more steadily you drive the less fuel you use!

As BEV doesn’t have a fuel tank, you have two displays to guide you: battery charge level and range display. Range anxiety is an issue for BEV owners so you need to be more aware of your charge level and range to manage your nerves, especially on a longer outing. Charging points are not on every corner like petrol stations. On a trip back from Exeter I suddenly got a shock when a flashing warning message was triggered: only 12 miles left in the battery!

The range display is where the magic starts. This is not a specific measure like the charge level indicator, but a prediction based on the conditions, previous driving style and the weather. I can leave home with a range of 140 miles, arrive in the centre of Newton Abbot and still see a range of 140. I’ve driven eight miles but according to the display I haven’t used any energy! It feels like magic but it’s due to energy recovery.

Both feedback displays really are useful to moderate your driving to save energy. At first there was a downside as I became obsessed with the displays but I have now found a good balance. I have to confess I was never so aware of my driving in my old petrol Polo.

BEV also has a blue and green zone energy display, next to the normal speedo. All part of the learning curve, I have trained myself to drive in the green zone as much as possible to maximise this energy recovery and make the magic happen. However, this can have some hairshirt consequences when you see how much energy is drawn from the battery by the radio or the heating. Early on I occasionally drove home shivering and with no entertainment just to protect my stats. This is the extreme end of the energy saving sport. But joking aside, it does graphically ‘drive’ home how much energy it takes to power the mod cons in our cars we take for granted.

What about charging and range anxiety I hear you ask? Well I’m fortunate to have a drive and can park right next to my charger. Much trickier if you live in town. The 13 amp charge lead comes as standard but takes about 10-11 hours to charge fully. Your next investment is a rapid charger. Just plug BEV into her life support overnight and bingo! Or not quite, as my other energy-saving challenge is to charge BEV as much as possible from our solar panels, using truly low-carbon electricity. So overnight is not the ideal time to charge. This all takes some management and engagement with BEV and her charger. So here’s the trick – plan ahead and charge only when you need to travel. At this time of year it’s much easier as there is (usually) more sun. If my journeys are local BEV doesn’t need to be fully charged every time and I can divert some of the solar power to other appliances in my house or to our batteries.

Of course I do still need to use the grid electricity for part of the year. The grid is using more power from low-carbon sources as we make the changes to combat climate change. But there is no guarantee the energy I’m drawing is from renewables. I have to live with that for the time being. By charging BEV from the grid only when I absolutely need to, I’m making quite an impact on my carbon footprint.

The next big challenge with BEV is driving to Bristol and back, which is outside BEV’s 145 mile range. This will involve charging away from home – a new adventure. So wish us luck! 

Site options for the Teignbridge local plan to be consulted on

A meeting of the council executive on 1st June passed a motion to run a public consultation on site options for the local plan from 14th June to 9th August.

Executive Committee meeting

You can watch the proceedings of the executive committee here , this gives access to a recording of the whole meeting, the local plan is item 6 on the agenda, which you can select from the menu on the right.

Jackie Hook said “We will have to choose some sites, help us to choose the least damaging. This isn’t however about who can gather the biggest petition against a site, this is about bringing to the council’s attention additional planning related information and knowledge.”

Local plan consultation on sites

Part 2 of the local plan has now been published and can be found here.

Housing Numbers

As you may know, the Government has told Teignbridge it must build 751 houses a year (they had planned to order 1,532 houses a year!). The council therefore has to identify the sites where the houses can be built. If we do not do this the Government will take over planning at Teignbridge and increase the numbers by 20%.

This consultation asks that members of the public help by:

  1. Checking through the sites and see what may be proposed in your community and commenting about the sites.
  2. Sharing the consultation with your friends and family living in Teignbridge. It’s really important as many people as possible know about the proposals and say what they think to Teignbridge.

This could well be the last time local people are given a say in major planning decisions like this.
The Government is proposing to bring in a new system under which land will be zoned. Anything designated for ‘growth’ will be deemed to have ‘planning permission in principle’.
Government ministers claim their plan will eliminate ‘red tape’ but many fear that it abolishes any meaningful involvement of residents and local councils in planning matters.
The consultation on the possible housing sites ends at 12 Noon on Monday 9th August 2021. Do please have your say 

Low Carbon

Chapter 11 states Teignbridge’s 2018 carbon footprint and analyses emissions trends over the period 2008-2018, showing that the transport, buildings, agriculture and waste sectors have not reduced over that period.

Electricity consumption is estimated to grow from 468GWh to 940GWh (101%) as a result of electrification of heat and transport, as well as growth associated with growth mandated by the plan.

The report doesn’t give any detail of how this electrification will be achieved, but the proposed increase in electricity consumption is close to our own estimates based on widespread EV take-up and retrofitting the existing housing stock to near Passiv Haus standards. Indeed the growth in electricity demand is slightly lower than we estimated, so some other demand reduction must be assumed.

Possible sites are identified for 217GWh of wind and 726GWh of solar, totalling 953GWh. So on a whole year basis enough to meet demand. The report identifies a number of constraints, which mean that this much renewable generation is unlikely to be buildable.

Peak demand occurs in the winter, when solar generation is producing least. We see already that in the recent sunny period that grid carbon intensity for the South West can get as low as 30g/kWh when most energy comes from solar and nuclear. Contrast this with winter when on a calm day most of our electricity in the South West comes from gas when grid carbon intensity can exceed 400g/kWh.

The report identifies an increase of 201GWh of demand from heating, which will mainly be needed in the winter months. It also identifies 49 GWh from additional housing, if we assume that this will also be biased towards winter, the additional winter demand could increase to 230GWh. This is more than could be supplied by the identified wind resource. So Teignbridge will need to import more renewable energy from elsewhere during the winter.

A large amount of land is identified as suitable for solar development. Here there is also scope for a significant contribution from rooftop PV, however, this is limited in practice by the ability of local substations to deal with local generation.

I thought my diesel car would have to go

More than seven in 10 people in the UK are concerned about climate change, surveys show. Nearly half think it is caused mainly or entirely by human activity. This is good news: if enough people are convinced by the scientific evidence that we are the cause of the problem, there is hope that we can be the solution too.

The question is, can we wait around for the government, or industry, or someone else, to take responsibility and action? Tackling climate change feels like too large a task for individuals but I have come round to the view that what we do both individually and collectively is crucial. 

Making changes to the way we live is a challenge, of course, and it is easy to make assumptions about what will make the most difference. In my case, I thought driving was my biggest carbon emissions problem. You see I love driving – it’s always been my escape route from life’s troubles. I can just jump into my car and go somewhere – anywhere. 

When I realised a couple of years ago what a mess we’re making of our environment I became almost embarrassed to drive my old diesel car. I thought it would make my carbon footprint really high. So I tried out both electric and hybrid cars – in fact my husband really wanted one. But however much I tried I really struggled with them. They were automatic, and it felt as if the car was in control rather than me doing the driving. So I decided the car would have to go. 

Then some friends suggested I use a carbon footprint tracker to find out how I was spending my carbon budget. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my car made a relatively small contribution to my footprint, due to the low mileage I now do. I try to walk most places, usually with my dog – everyone where I live knows me by my dog!

My highest emissions turned out to come from stuff, which is almost more embarrassing than my car being my biggest problem! The damage my spending on DIY projects, outdoor clothing, gadgets, etc, does to my bank balance is bad enough. The fact that it’s also damaging the planet is double trouble. I now pay much more attention to where my stuff is produced, and  make a conscious effort to buy local, even if it means I don’t receive it the next day. 

At least I now know how I am spending my carbon budget, and more importantly, what actions I can take to reduce it.

I was so close to selling my car and making the massive mistake of thinking I was now clean and green. And I could have carried on accumulating more stuff without a thought to the real cost to the environment of each new purchase. 

So my advice to all my friends is, if you want to make changes, just check they are the ones that will really make a difference to your impact on our planet. 

Let’s make 2021 the year of climate action!

Decarbonising Transport setting the Challenge

DfT has launched Decarbonising Transport setting the Challenge. This recognises that current and planned policies will not result in net zero by 2050. This consultation plans to produce a Transport Decarbonisation Plan within 7 months.

Details of the challenge can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876251/decarbonising-transport-setting-the-challenge.pdf

This document reviews current and already proposed future policies towards meeting net zero by 2050. The challenge recognises that these policies alone will not achieve net zero. Public participation in the challenge will take the form of:

  • Stakeholder Events
  • Workshops
  • On going public engagement

You can share your views on decarbonising transport, register to receive regular updates on the progress of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan and information about the consultation workshops by emailing TDP@dft.gov.uk.

We will publish our views and hope to take part as an organisation.

Transport Documents Updated

Transport related documents have been updated to reflect comments received. These are the Parish Pack, Transport Policy and the TECs Electric Vehicles review.

We have published updated versions of:

Transport Policy

This has been updated to reflect comments made in response to the original release. Updates include a new section on the national speed limit, and revision of the carbon calculator section to reflect recent progress.

EVs document

This document provides an extensive review of the pros and cons of buying an EV, subjects covered include:

  • Introduction to EVs including types of EVs
  • History of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
  • Travel Range
  • Emissions including comparison with internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV), NOx emissions, non tailpipe emissions
  • Manufacture and disposal emissions and the use of Lithium, Cobalt, Graphite and rare earths. Recycling of batteries and Lifespan.
  • Efficiency and payback calculations compared with similar ICEV.
  • Efficiency of Rapid Charging
  • Driving, Towing, Insurance and taxation
  • Charging, connector types, different types of chargers

Mapping Teignbridge Transport emissions

We have recently produced detailed mapping of transport emissions in Teignbridge. This mapping shows estimated emissions from each road, and assigns these to Parishes and Census output areas.

This mapping can be viewed on our Maps and Data page.