The Raspberry Pi is now Orderable IN QUANTITY!

Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s technology correspondent, reports this morning that:

Last week Electrocomponents, the RS parent company, reported that booming sales of the Raspberry Pi had boosted its first quarter revenues.

Recently returned from “a Raspberry Jam in Cambridge”, Rory also mentions that he had:

Heard some breaking news from Eben Upton. Production had ramped up to 4,000 units a day to meet demand, but there was still a backlog of orders.

 

But what really excited the crowd was the announcement that a camera module for the device was coming very soon, priced at $20-$25 and offering 5MP photos and good quality video.

According to Rory, Eben also said:

It’s been completely crazy. At Christmas last year we thought we might sell 10,000 of these devices, so to be sitting here with 200,000 out in the wild and plans to get to a million by the end of the year is just incredible.

In other Raspberry Pi flavoured news this morning, Liz Upton reports on the Raspberry Pi blog that:

Up until now, we’ve had to restrict purchases of the Raspberry Pi to one per customer  because the demand has been (and continues to be) so high. Both of our manufacturing partners have been working at building capacity so you we can lift that limit – right now, 4000 Raspberry Pis are being made every day. As of this morning, you’ll be able to buy as many Raspberry Pis as you want.

Unfortunately delivery won’t be next day, because according to Jo from RS:

We’re currently forecasting that these orders will start reaching customers by the end of September.

Nonetheless this would seem to be a step in the right direction if you’re currently planning on having a classroom full of RasPis ready in time for the start of the next academic year, with or without 5 megapixel cameras attached.

 

Liz Upton reports on the Raspberry Pi blog this morning that:

Up until now, we’ve had to restrict purchases of the Raspberry Pi to one per customer  because the demand has been (and continues to be) so high. Both of our manufacturing partners have been working at building capacity so you we can lift that limit – right now, 4000 Raspberry Pis are being made every day. As of this morning, you’ll be able to buy as many Raspberry Pis as you want.

Delivery won’t be next day however, because according to Jo from RS Components:

We’re currently forecasting that these orders will start reaching customers by the end of September.

Nonetheless this would seem to be a step in the right direction if you’re currently planning on having a classroom full of RasPis ready in time for the start of the next school year.

 

Renewable Energy is the Work of Generations of Engineers?

Fresh from bemoaning the lack of grid-scale energy storage to support all the large scale solar PV parks currently being proposed here in not so sunny South West England, the latest edition of the IEEE Spectrum magazine landed on my doormat this morning.  In all the circumstances it would have been very handy if it had arrived this time last week, since it contains all sorts of statistics and arguments derived therefrom that support my position on that locally contentious issue!

In an article entitled “A Skeptic Looks at Alternative EnergyVaclav Smil, a distinguished professor in the department of environment and geography at the University of Manitoba, bemoans (amongst other things) solar PV subsidies here in Northern Europe:

In June 2004 the editor of an energy journal called to ask me to comment on a just-announced plan to build the world’s largest photovoltaic electric generating plant. Where would it be, I asked—Arizona? Spain? North Africa? No, it was to be spread among three locations in rural Bavaria, southeast of Nuremberg.

I said there must be some mistake. I grew up not far from that place, just across the border with the Czech Republic, and I will never forget those seemingly endless days of summer spent inside while it rained incessantly. Bavaria is like Seattle in the United States or Sichuan province in China. You don’t want to put a solar plant in Bavaria, but that is exactly where the Germans put it. It happened for the best reason there is in politics: money. Welcome to the world of new renewable energies, where the subsidies rule—and consumers pay.

After laying his cards on the table at the outset Vaclav then lays into a wide range of renewable energy subsidies, making only two exceptions:

Without these subsidies, renewable energy plants other than hydroelectric and geothermal ones can’t yet compete with conventional generators. There are several reasons, starting with relatively low capacity factors—the most electricity a plant can actually produce divided by what it would produce if it could be run full time. The capacity factor of a typical nuclear power plant is more than 90 percent; for a coal-fired generating plant it’s about 65 to 70 percent. A photovoltaic installation can get close to 20 percent—in sunny Spain—and a wind turbine, well placed on dry land, from 25 to 30 percent. Put it offshore and it may even reach 40 percent. To convert to either of the latter two technologies, you must also figure in the need to string entirely new transmission lines to places where sun and wind abound, as well as the need to manage a more variable system load, due to the intermittent nature of the power.

I couldn’t have put it better myself, and I couldn’t have fitted it all into 5 minutes last Monday  either. If you have any interest in learning how to discern the difference between Green Energy and GreenWash I heartily recommend you read the article in full. Several times if necessary, until Vaclav’s message makes sense to you. To summarise, here’s his closing remark:

It is impossible to displace [the world’s fossil-fuel-based energy system] in a decade or two—or five, for that matter. Replacing it with an equally extensive and reliable alternative based on renewable energy flows is a task that will require decades of expensive commitment. It is the work of generations of engineers.

As if all that wasn’t enough, here’s a 45 minute video in which Bill Gates presents his views on energy policy in general, and Vaclav Smil in particular:

Finally here’s David MacKay’s “brilliant book” that Bill refers to around 18 minutes into his presentation. Sustainable energy, without the hot air.

The “Largest Single Electric Vehicle Order Ever” Includes Vehicle to Grid Technology!

Forbes columnist Tom Konrad is evidently better at reading Chinese than I am, and he reports that:

The city of Hangzhou just signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Kandi Technologies and nine other companies to supply 20,000 electric vehicles (EVs) for the city’s “pilot” EV leasing program.

This news is of great interest to us here at V2G Limited because not only that, but also:

Other companies involved will supply the batteries (Air Lithium (Lyoyang) Co. Ltd.) and charging by the local utility.  The utility will fund construction of a charging and battery swap station network as well as paying for the batteries.

 

The batteries will serve a dual use for grid stabilization, or Vehicle to Grid (V2G) technology.  The batteries will be financed by charges to electricity customers because of this dual use.  So, in addition to this being the largest EV sale ever announced, the project is also effectively the largest scale trial of the use of EV batteries for V2G.

The comments on the story clarify that:

The greedy utilities don’t want to share [the] value with consumers – that’s the only problem with V2G.

To that I would add the rider that (over here in Europe at least) V2G technology isn’t ready for “prime-time” just yet for another reason. The standards are still being developed apart from anything else.

Note that at the end of his report Tom also discloses that he is:

Long NASD:KNDI

One Objection to the Gold’s Cross Hill Solar PV Park in Devon

There follows the basis of a 5 minute presentation I will be giving to a meeting of the Teignbridge District Council planning committee later on this morning, hastily copied from PowerPoint. Upon my return I’ll let you know what effect it had, if any. You can also download a PDF version of the presentation here.

Gold’s Cross Hill Solar PV Park

Objections to the proposal

from

Jim Hunt

V2G Limited


Who Am I?

Technical Director of V2G Limited

V2G is short for “Vehicle to Grid” (Small scale electricity storage. Nissan Leaf = 24 kWh)

I have decades of experience in the automation of electricity distribution.

See Appendix A for more information


Why’s That Relevant?

In brief, I help keep your lights on!

I help keep the lights on in places like Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone too.

Solar parks need a lot of that sort of technology as well. A fact that never seems to get mentioned by their proposers.

“Sustainability” of renewable energy projects, especially solar “farms”, requires “grid level energy storage”, which doesn’t currently exist at sufficient scale (1 MW for 1 Day = 24,000 kWh).

Electrical energy storage never seems to get mentioned by developers either.

See Appendix B for more information


Planning Guidelines?

From paragraph 3.19 of your officer’s report before you – “NPPF introduces the presumption in favour of sustainable development”

From paragraph 3.38 of that report – “The proposal is considered to be finely balanced”

From the Ministerial foreword to the NPPF –“Sustainable means ensuring that better lives for ourselves don’t mean worse lives for future generations”.

“Sustainable development is about change for the better, and not only in our built environment. Our natural environment is essential to our wellbeing, and it can be better looked after than it has been.”

Let’s look more closely at how “sustainable” this particular proposed PV “development” really is.

Food Security versus Energy Security?

The Realities of Solar PV!


The Site is Mainly Arable Land

From paragraph 3.2 of the report in front of you – “There can be no certainty about whether [the land] is Grade 3[b] or 3a”

Despite that comment, please note the pink coloured areas on the Dudley Stamp Land Use Inventory for the Gold’s Cross Hill site

Gold's Cross Hill Land Use

Gold's Cross Hill Land Use

See http://magic.defra.gov.uk/website/magic/viewer.htm?startTopic=maglandscape&xygridref=279292,92523&startScale=25000

The Site is Mainly Arable Land(cont.)

Recent site photographs clearly show the cereal crop currently being grown on the land:

Cereals in the Distance

Cereals in the Distance


Expert Opinions

Zero Carbon Britain – “On a larger scale, putting solar farms on prime agricultural land that could be used for food production is problematic.

See http://econnexus.org/a-brief-view-of-the-bowhay-farm-solar-pv-public-information-evening/

and http://www.zerocarbonbritain.org/

David Green of the EcoIsland CIC, and Sustainability Executive of the Year– “Given the choice solar PV should be on roofs, not on arable land.

See http://www.eco-island.org/images/uploads/press/BusinessGreen_Leaders_Awards_-_David_Green_Announcement_-_04-07-2012.pdf

Solar PV “Efficiency”?

Efficiency in terms of incident solar energy converted into electrical energy is around 15%.

However please note the “Load factor”/“Capacity factor” statistics for renewable energy sources in the UK, recently released by DECC (Solar PV for the first time)

 

Technology 2009 2010 2011
Onshore wind 27.4% 21.7% 27.3%
Offshore wind 26.0% 30.4% 36.8%
Solar PV 9.3% 7.3% 5.5%
Hydro 36.7% 25.4% 39.1%
Bioenergy 54.9% 53.5% 43.1%


The Reality of “8 MW”

Even if we generously assume a 12% load factor that works out to 1 MW on average in practice.

According to Zero Carbon Britain – “[Solar PV] energy is generated primarily in the summer, which clashes with our peak consumption which is highest on long, sunless winter nights.

With no electricity storage on site, output of the proposed solar park will vary from zero on a long, sunless winter night to 8 MW on a sunny summer’s day, with an average of 1 MW at best.

Grid Load Balancing at Present

This variation between seasonal electricity demand and solar PV supply, plus intra-day variations, causes problems for the National Grid – “Unlike gas, electricity can’t be stored in large quantities. As a result, part of National Grid’s role involves making sure that demand and supply match up. We do this on a minute-by-minute basis. It’s a bit like trying to keep a car at 50mph while driving up and down hills.”

See http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/AboutElectricity/Balancing+the+network/

The majority of the 8 MW maximum output of the proposed solar park needs to be quickly available from an alternative source if the sun suddenly becomes hidden behind some heavy cloud.

Watch a video – http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/en//id/1401 – “[Storage] changes everything!”

In the UK this will typically be a gas fired power station running at less than full rated output by design.


The Future?

It’s unknown, but let’s examine “What might happen in 25 years time?”

What if the “Solar PV industry” collapses along with the subsidies?

What if the “industry” lives on, but is consolidated into the likes of EDF and E.ON?

What if an “efficient and economic” energy storage technology is developed, so that solar PV parks are no longer “50 acre white elephants”?

What if that technology happens to be pumped heat?

See http://www.v2g.co.uk/2012/06/isentropic-and-western-power-to-test-pumped-heat-electricity-storage/

Please note the Eden Project is investigating more “joined up” ways of handling these hugely important questions.

See http://econnexus.org/the-award-winning-eden-project-solar-pv-staff-share-scheme/

In Conclusion

Please take note of the NPPF paragraph 112 – “Local planning authorities should take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality.”

Please also take note of the Devon Structure Plan policy CO14 – Conserving Agricultural Land – “The use of agricultural land, particularly the best and most versatile agricultural land (grades 1, 2 and 3a), for any form of development not associated with agriculture or forestry should only be permitted where there is an over-riding need for development in that location which outweighs the need to protect such land or where it implements other policies and proposals of the Development Plan.


Finally

Finally please also take note of the Teignbridge Local Plan policy P1 on Agriculture – “Development of the best and most versatile agricultural land (MAFF grades 1, 2 and 3a) will only be permitted where there is a strong case for development on that site which overrides the need to protect such land. Where development is permitted on the best and most versatile agricultural land and there is a choice of sites, the lowest grade land suitable for the development will be used first.”

I invite you to join me in exercising your democratic right to vote to refuse this proposed development. In my professional opinion the “fine balance” is tipped against the proposal. The costs to sustainable development in this rural area if permission is granted are apparent, whilst the benefits (if any) are not.


Appendix A

15 Years Technical Expertise in Electricity Distribution

See http://www.v2g.co.uk/about-v2g/

Member of Regen SW

See http://www.regensw.co.uk/directory/?filter=quick&keywords=v2g

Smart Grid Consultant

Smart Grid = “An electrical grid that uses computers and other technology to gather and act on information, such as information about the behaviors of suppliers and consumers, in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_grid

Appendix A (cont.)

Financial Information eXchange protocol working group on electrical energy pricing

See http://fixprotocol.org/working_groups/smartgrid/members

US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) PAP03 working group on the common specification for electrical energy pricing and product definition

NIST PAP09 working group on energy interoperation (Demand Response & Distributed Energy Resources)

See http://www.naesb.org/pdf4/smart_grid_ssd062410announcement.doc

Appendix B

Air Break Isolator near Exminster (Manual)

Air Break Isolator near Exminster

Air Break Isolator near Exminster

The Current UK “Smart Grid” (cont.)

Pole Mounted Recloser near Kennford

Pole Mounted Recloser near Kennford

Pole Mounted Recloser near Kennford

Current UK “Solar Farms”

Eastacombe Farm near Clawton

Eastacombe Farm near Clawton

Eastacombe Farm near Clawton

Current UK “Solar Farms” (cont.)

Great Knowle Farm near Pyworthy

Great Knowle Farm near Pyworthy

Great Knowle Farm near Pyworthy

Current UK “Solar Farms” (cont.)

This solar farm must have an 8 MW capable “Connection” to the National Grid

All solar farms must have “Protection”

All solar farms must have “Communication”

To be truly “Sustainable” solar farms desperately need “Energy Storage” as well.

Will all that fit into one “Big Green Box?”

Gold’s Cross Hill Solar PV Park
Objections to the proposalfromJim Hunt
V2G LimitedWho Am I?
Technical Director of V2G Limited
V2G is short for “Vehicle to Grid” (Small scale electricity storage. Nissan Leaf = 24 kWh)
I have decades of experience in the automation of electricity distribution.See Appendix A for more information
Why’s That Relevant?
In brief, I help keep your lights on!
I help keep the lights on in places like Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone too.
Solar parks need a lot of that sort of technology as well. A fact that never seems to get mentioned by their proposers.
“Sustainability” of renewable energy projects, especially solar “farms”, requires “grid level energy storage”, which doesn’t currently exist at sufficient scale (1 MW for 1 Day = 24,000 kWh).
Electrical energy storage never seems to get mentioned by developers either.See Appendix B for more information
Planning Guidelines?
From paragraph 3.19 of your officer’s report before you – “NPPF introduces the presumption in favour of sustainable development”
From paragraph 3.38 of that report – “The proposal is considered to be finely balanced”
From the Ministerial foreword to the NPPF – “Sustainable means ensuring that better lives for ourselves don’t mean worse lives for future generations”.
“Sustainable development is about change for the better, and not only in our built environment. Our natural environment is essential to our wellbeing, and it can be better looked after than it has been.”
Let’s look more closely at how “sustainable” this particular proposed PV “development” really is.
Food Security versus Energy Security?
The Realities of Solar PV!
The Site is Mainly Arable Land
From paragraph 3.2 of the report in front of you – “There can be no certainty about whether [the land] is Grade 3[b] or 3a”
Despite that comment, please note the pink coloured areas on the Dudley Stamp Land Use Inventory for the Gold’s Cross Hill site
The Site is Mainly Arable Land (cont.)
Recent site photographs clearly show the cereal crop currently being grown on the land:

Expert Opinions
Zero Carbon Britain – “On a larger scale, putting solar farms on prime agricultural land that could be used for food production is problematic.”
See http://econnexus.org/a-brief-view-of-the-bowhay-farm-solar-pv-public-information-evening/
and http://www.zerocarbonbritain.org/

David Green of the EcoIsland CIC, and Sustainability Executive of the Year – “Given the choice solar PV should be on roofs, not on arable land.”
See http://www.eco-island.org/images/uploads/press/BusinessGreen_Leaders_Awards_-_David_Green_Announcement_-_04-07-2012.pdf
Solar PV “Efficiency”?
Efficiency in terms of incident solar energy converted into electrical energy is around 15%.
However please note the “Load factor”/“Capacity factor” statistics for renewable energy sources in the UK, recently released by DECC (Solar PV for the first time)
The Reality of “8 MW”
Even if we generously assume a 12% load factor that works out to 1 MW on average in practice.
According to Zero Carbon Britain – “[Solar PV] energy is generated primarily in the summer, which clashes with our peak consumption which is highest on long, sunless winter nights.”
With no electricity storage on site, output of the proposed solar park will vary from zero on a long, sunless winter night to 8 MW on a sunny summer’s day, with an average of 1 MW at best.

Grid Load Balancing at Present
This variation between seasonal electricity demand and solar PV supply, plus intra-day variations, causes problems for the National Grid – “Unlike gas, electricity can’t be stored in large quantities. As a result, part of National Grid’s role involves making sure that demand and supply match up. We do this on a minute-by-minute basis. It’s a bit like trying to keep a car at 50mph while driving up and down hills.”
See http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/AboutElectricity/Balancing+the+network/

The majority of the 8 MW maximum output of the proposed solar park needs to be quickly available from an alternative source if the sun suddenly becomes hidden behind some heavy cloud.
Watch a video – http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/en//id/1401 – “[Storage] changes everything!”

In the UK this will typically be a gas fired power station running at less than full rated output by design.
The Future?
It’s unknown, but let’s examine “What might happen in 25 years time?”
What if the “Solar PV industry” collapses along with the subsidies?
What if the “industry” lives on, but is consolidated into the likes of EDF and E.ON?
What if an “efficient and economic” energy storage technology is developed, so that solar PV parks are no longer “50 acre white elephants”?
What if that technology happens to be pumped heat?
See http://www.v2g.co.uk/2012/06/isentropic-and-western-power-to-test-pumped-heat-electricity-storage/
Please note the Eden Project is investigating more “joined up” ways of handling these hugely important questions.
See http://econnexus.org/the-award-winning-eden-project-solar-pv-staff-share-scheme/
In Conclusion
Please take note of the NPPF paragraph 112 – “Local planning authorities should take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality.”
Please also take note of the Devon Structure Plan policy CO14 – Conserving Agricultural Land – “The use of agricultural land, particularly the best and most versatile agricultural land (grades 1, 2 and 3a), for any form of development not associated with agriculture or forestry should only be permitted where there is an over-riding need for development in that location which outweighs the need to protect such land or where it implements other policies and proposals of the Development Plan.

Finally
Finally please also take note of the Teignbridge Local Plan policy P1 on Agriculture – “Development of the best and most versatile agricultural land (MAFF grades 1, 2 and 3a) will only be permitted where there is a strong case for development on that site which overrides the need to protect such land. Where development is permitted on the best and most versatile agricultural land and there is a choice of sites, the lowest grade land suitable for the development will be used first.”

I invite you to join me in exercising your democratic right to vote to refuse this proposed development. In my professional opinion the “fine balance” is tipped against the proposal. The costs to sustainable development in this rural area if permission is granted are apparent, whilst the benefits (if any) are not.

Appendix A
15 Years Technical Expertise in Electricity Distribution
See http://www.v2g.co.uk/about-v2g/
Member of Regen SW
See http://www.regensw.co.uk/directory/?filter=quick&keywords=v2g
Smart Grid Consultant
Smart Grid = “An electrical grid that uses computers and other technology to gather and act on information, such as information about the behaviors of suppliers and consumers, in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity”
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_grid

Appendix A (cont.)
Financial Information eXchange protocol working group on electrical energy pricing
See http://fixprotocol.org/working_groups/smartgrid/members
US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) PAP03 working group on the common specification for electrical energy pricing and product definition
NIST PAP09 working group on energy interoperation (Demand Response & Distributed Energy Resources)
See http://www.naesb.org/pdf4/smart_grid_ssd062410announcement.doc

Appendix B
Air Break Isolator near Exminster (Manual)
The Current UK “Smart Grid” (cont.)
Pole Mounted Recloser near Kennford
Current UK “Solar Farms”
Eastacombe Farm near Clawton
Current UK “Solar Farms” (cont.)
Great Knowle Farm near Pyworthy
Current UK “Solar Farms” (cont.)
This solar farm must have an 8 MW capable “Connection” to the National Grid
All solar farms must have “Protection”
All solar farms must have “Communication”
To be truly “Sustainable” solar farms desperately need “Energy Storage” as well.
Will all that fit into one “Big Green Box?”

Europe’s PowerUp Project Delivers V2G Interface Documentation

The EU funded PowerUp project has just released a set of documents, still labelled “Confidential”, but also “Final” and “Public”! According to the European Union’s web site:

PowerUp aims to develop the Vehicle-2-Grid (V2G) interface, involving a full development cycle of physical/link-layer specification, charging control protocol design, prototyping, conformance testing, field trials, and standardisation. Its results will ensure that FEVs smoothly integrate into emerging smart-grid networks. Thereby the efficiencies resulting from robust grid operation may be achieved; V2G capabilities will smoothen the daily fluctuation of electricity demand and will enable FEVs to act as emergency energy supplies. To achieve these desired results, it is essential that any electric vehicle type would be compatible with any European smart-grid network.

 

V2G technology will be developed in liaison with the ongoing ISO/IEC standardisation of the V2G interface, and it will extend existing smart-metering standards and ETSI ITS standards for vehicular communications. On the grid side, smart electric meters will be enhanced for V2G capability and V2G-specific demand-balancing control algorithms will be researched.

The documents delivered this week can be downloaded from the PowerUp home page.  To give you a feel of what is contained therein, here’s an extract from the introduction to deliverable 4.1:

The PowerUp project aims at developing and validating the V2G interface, so as to support nomadic electricity consumption by electric vehicles under any foreseen arrangement of the billing architecture or value chains. The PowerUp use cases, which can be handled by the envisaged architecture, are stated below:

 

A) Basic V2G set up (commercial heavy vehicle)
B) Basic V2G setup (passenger car) in semiprivate area
C) Power delivery re-negotiation
D) Grid-controlled scheduling and re-scheduling of charging
E) Power failure handling
F) User initiated re-scheduling
G) High speed data exchange with the EV over PLC
H) Vehicle to grid transfer of energy

According to the rather sparse “Events” section of the PowerUp  web site:

Our up-to-date V2G interface prototypes will be demonstrated at the EC stand and at the Denso stand at the 2012 ITS World Congress in Vienna.

The Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress takes place between October 22nd and 26th at the Messezentrum Wien in Vienna. Perhaps we’ll see you there?

V2G Celebrate the Arrival of a Raspberry Pi

I expressed my interest in purchasing a Raspberry Pi from both Farnell Element14 and RS Components way back on April 18th. Finally my patience has been rewarded, and the one from Farnell landed on my doormat this morning. This is what it looks like:

The V2G Raspberry Pi connected up and working well

The V2G Raspberry Pi connected up and working well

I followed the instructions for “if you’re just starting out” and loaded my trusty 8Gb class 6 SD card with the Debian “Squeeze” flavour of Linux, downloaded from the Raspberry Pi downloads page. Then I plugged everything in and powered up my Pi using the charger from my Kindle. According to the label on the bottom this puts out “5V at 0.85A”. This seemed to be adequate, since things seemed to work as anticipated after starting up for first time. I found I needed to start X manually (“sudo startx &” seemed to do the trick) and having done that opening up an xterm and the Midori web browser went well enough also. Here’s how things looked at that stage:

The V2G Rapberry Pi displaying a self referntial V2G blog post!

The V2G Raspberry Pi, displaying a self referential V2G blog post!

I did notice that scrolling through the V2G blog become remarkably similar to wading through treacle at one point, as the CPU usage indicator hit the end stops. As teething troubles go running embedded Linux on a new board for the first time that’s pretty minor though, I can assure you!

Apart from Debian, other prebuilt images are available for the RasPi. As a CentOS/Fedora man myself I was pleased to discover that  Fedora is available too, even though it’s not advertised on the main download page. That’s what I’ll experiment with next, as soon as I’ve ordered a few more SD cards. As if all that wasn’t enough to be going on with a new kid on the block arrived a few days ago, since an official port of Google’s Chromium OS by Liam McLoughlin is now available also.

Finally, for the moment at least, a few days ago I got an email from RS informing me I could now preorder a Raspberry Pi from them too. The only downside is that the lead time currently appears to be 11 weeks!

The V2G RasPi from RS is due in three months or so

The V2G RasPi from RS is due in three months or so

Isentropic and Western Power to Test Pumped Heat Electricity Storage

I missed the announcement at the time, but what with one thing and another I’ve recently been doing my due diligence on innovative methods of storing energy in and around 33 kV substations.  I’ve just discovered that last week Isentropic Ltd.revealed that:

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has provided project funding and an equity investment, together totalling £14m ($22m). The funding is to build a full scale demonstrator of its revolutionary, low cost energy storage device – called Pumped Heat Electricity Storage (PHES).

All that money is going to be put to some practical use, since:

Isentropic will use the funds to develop and deploy a 1.5MW/6MWh electricity storage unit on a UK primary substation owned by Western Power Distribution in the Midlands region.

This news was obviously of great interest to me, so I called Isentropic and spoke with their Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Howes earlier today. Unfortunately in all the circumstances, Jonathan told me that whilst a scaled validation system will be up and running in the not too distant future, a utility scale machine capable of delivering 1.5 MW of power and 6 MWh of storage in the field at an overall efficiency of 75% is still several years from fruition.

As UK Business Secretary Vince Cable puts it:

As our energy supplies change, finding innovative ways to store energy will become an increasingly important factor in the transition to a green economy.

and as Western Power Distribution Project Engineer Philip Bale puts it:

We believe that distribution scale energy storage could be used to improve the future operation of the distribution network

Hear, hear!

Nissan Announce “LEAF to Home” Power Supply System

Nissan announced last week that from the middle of this month its Japanese dealerships will be showcasing:

An industry first backup power supply system that can transmit the electricity stored in the large-capacity batteries of Nissan LEAFs to a residential home.

Here’s a video in which Nissan corporate vice president Hideaki Watanabe explains the benefits of such a system:

The technology is actually supplied by Nichicon as part of their “EV Power Station” fast charging units. According to Nissan:

The LEAF to Home system will help encourage Nissan LEAF owners to charge their cars with electricity generated during the night, when demand is low, or sourced from solar panels. This assist in balancing energy needs by supplying electricity to the grid during daytime, when demand is highest. It can also be used as back-up power source in case of power outages and/or shortages.

 

The [LEAF's] lithium-ion batteries can store up to 24kWh of electricity, which is sufficient to supply an average Japanese household for about two days. This system underscores an additional attribute of EVs: vehicles which can be used as a storage battery whether they are moving or stationary.

Nissan say that “all current Nissan LEAF owners in Japan will be able to use the system, depending on their home’s installation requirements” as long as they have 330,000 yen to spare (after Japanese government subsidies). Nissan are forecasting sales of 10,000 “LEAF to Home” systems in the first year.

Mr. Watanabe says in Nissan’s video that:

We are starting from Japan, but if there is interest from other parts of the world we are willing to partner up with any other partners. This time we are partnering up with Nichicon, so we can go out to other countries and partner up with other global suppliers.

Nissan’s press release concludes by saying:

Nissan and Nichicon will continue to work together to create new value in EVs as part of the way forward toward the realization of a zero-emission society.

although they don’t forecast when such a society will be realized!

 

Google Recommend the Raspberry Pi at The Science Museum

Yesterday Nesta and The Science Museum unveiled a report on the “Legacy of the BBC Micro“.  The preface to the report outlines how last year Google Chairman Eric Schmidt gave a speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival that:

Contained a stark warning about how Britain was throwing away its great computer heritage by failing to teach programming in schools.

and then explains how the report:

Explores the lessons for bringing back an ambitious vision of technological literacy to today’s Britain.

Coincidentally Eric Schmidt gave another speech yesterday at the Science Museum in London, which also mentioned the topic of computer literacy . This time around Mr Schmidt offered to put some of Google’s money where it’s mouth is. According to the BBC they:

Would provide the funds to support Teach First – a charity which puts “exceptional” graduates on a six-week training programme before deploying them to schools where they teach classes over a two-year period.

and according to Nesta:

Some of the money has been earmarked for relevant teaching equipment, including the new Raspberry Pi computer.

According to Eric Schmidt in his speech yesterday:

If the past has taught us anything, it’s that if you connect people with information they will change the world. The success of the BBC Micro in the 1980s shows what’s possible. There’s no reason why Raspberry Pi shouldn’t have the same impact, with the right support.

It remains to be seen how much support will be forthcoming in these troubled times, and how much impact Google’s initiative and the Raspberry Pi will ultimately have on technological literacy here in the UK and abroad.

 

Raspberry Pi Progresses on a Few Fronts

I registered my interest in buying a Raspberry Pi single board computer several weeks ago, and yesterday I finally received an email from Farnell/Element14 assuring me that:

We are very pleased to tell you that you can now pre-order your Raspberry Pi. Current lead-times for new orders are July/August depending upon where you are in the registration queue. At this time orders will continue to be kept to one per person, to ensure the products get into the right hands.

Of course I clicked the link in the email and parted with my company credit card number for the grand total of 29.46 GBP including shipping and VAT for my very own RasPi model B.  Unfortunately the order confirmation informs me that the “Estimated Delivery Date” is the “Week Commencing 17/09/2012″, so I’m still not entirely clear when I’ll be able to start my own experiments with what Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s technology correspondent describes as:

A credit-card sized computer designed to encourage children to learn programming, [which] caught the imagination of millions when it was unveiled in February.

Rory is one of the lucky few to have received his credit-card sized board already, and concludes his review of the Raspberry Pi as follows:

The device may inspire a new generation of computer programmers or it could leave children used to smartphones and tablet computers baffled and bewildered.  A great experiment with the way we teach computing has begun and we can’t be sure how it will end.

which seems to me to sum up the current position nicely.

Although the product seems to be selling itself, here’s how Element14 are currently presenting the Raspberry Pi to the world:

On another raspberry flavoured front it was announced on Twitter earlier today that:

The MagPi team are proud to launch a new official HTML website.

The MagPi is “is a voluntary-run magazine for the Raspberry Pi computer user community.” and the first issue of the magazine is available for download via the aforementioned website. One of the articles discusses “the dawn of affordable computing” in the United Kingdom.

It would seem that my memory extends slightly further back in time than the MagPi team’s. My own first “home computer” was a Nascom 1, which predates the Sinclairs and Acorns that they mention by a few years.  It bore some similarity to the Raspberry Pi in so far as it came as a bare board that needed connecting to a TV if you wanted to see what was going on.  However the size of the board was very much larger than a credit card, which was just as well since you had to solder in the numerous components yourself. The price was also very much higher than the Raspberry Pi model B’s $35, especially if you allow for inflation since the late 70′s!

I trust that the Raspberry Pi Foundation won’t suffer the same fate as Nascom, who were effectively victims of their own success. They swiftly went bankrupt following component sourcing difficulties caused by unanticipated demand for their ground breaking products!