Is Distributed Energy Storage on Ofgem’s Roadmap?

In the first of my reports from the Regen SW “Community Energy Markets” conference in Bristol last Thursday I’ll be highlighting references in several of the presentations to what I like to call “Distributed Energy Storage“, which encompasses a whole lot more than just the battery packs in electric vehicles.

The first person to mention the subject was Jeff Hardy, who is Head of Future Consumers & Sustainability at Ofgem. His presentation was on the topic of “Non-traditional business models: Supporting transformative change in the energy market” which deserves an article all of its own in due course. However whilst discussing “rapid technological innovation” Jeff pointed out that “battery storage is the current flavour of the month”. After that Sonya Bedford, Head of Renewable Energy at Stephens Scown solicitors, also hinted at the subject in her talk about “Local supply models” in which she mentioned “Demand Side Response” and “Local Balancing Units”.

At the conclusion of the morning session Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW and our host for the day, asked if there were any questions from the floor. Nobody else seemed very keen to put their hand up, so I waved my arm in the air and was duly invited to stand up, state my name and affiliation, and then pose the panel a question. In the event I actually asked two. The first was to enquire if anybody else present was interested in international smart grid standards apart from me, since the LBUs that Sonya had mentioned seemed to me to come within the remit of the IEC 62325 standard working group which I am part of. Then I asked the panel whether the battery packs in electric vehicles were anywhere near being “flavour of next month” in the UK as yet.

Nobody responded to my first question, but Merlin framed my second question to the panel in terms of the recent “Powerwall” announcement from Tesla Energy. I was both pleased and somewhat surprised when Jeff pointed out that V2G was indeed on his radar screen, since he is “fascinated by EVs” and the “traditional battery worries have been overcome by technology”. Sonya was then good enough to mention that I had said much the same thing at the AGM of Exeter Community Energy earlier in the week.

After lunch James Owen, commercial director of Public Power Solutions, started off by giving us a history lesson about local electricity generation in the UK.  Then he went on to discuss the benefits of “Local Balancing Units”, “street level storage solutions” and “a true local smart micro-grid” amongst other things, using both Swindon and the Danish island of Bornholm as examples. James freely admitted to having pinched an infographic of Bornholm, so I’ve taken the liberty of pinching one of his! Here is PPS’s template for a future Bristol, or Bornholm, or the Isle of Wight, or anywhere else in Europe for that matter.

See if you can spot the difference between this version and the one on the PPS web site. It seems those recent additions are Tesla Powerpacks, and in my own vision of a future sunny Southwest England the cars under the solar PV canopy at the park and ride would be connected to similar “black boxes” that incorporate V2G functionality.

Having finally got the preface out of the way, I’d like at long last to mention some alternative battery filled “black boxes” from suppliers other than Tesla Energy. For “grid scale” battery storage you can repurpose EV battery packs like Sumitomo, or use batteries designed for the task from the likes of Saft.

Moving down to the domestic scale I note that for some strange reason the solar PV equipped dwelling in a future Bristol/Bornholm lacks a V2x equipped garage similar to the one shown in the V2G banner at the top of this article. Moving indoors Moixa’s Maslow predates the Powerwall by a long way, and is designed to power a DC circuit for LED lighting, computers etc. Quite possibly prompted by Elon Musk‘s recent announcement, Samsung have also launched a domestic version of their modular Energy Storage System (or ESS for short). Stefan Quandt (of BMW fame) has launched the SolarWatt MyReserve, which has already won an award at the recent ees Europe exhibition over in Germany. Varta also launched their Engion Element “storage for beginners” at ees Europe. Here’s how they looked at the show:

and just in case you haven’t yet tasted the flavour of the month, here’s a Tesla Powerwall for your delectation:

As you’ve probably gathered by now I have a lot more to say about all of this and more, including covering Anthony Price of Swanbarton’s talk dedicated to “Local balancing using storage”. However for the moment at least I cannot help but wonder what Ofgem make of all this “rapid technological innovation”, not to mention the potential associated “non-traditional business models” and last but by no means least, international smart grid standards!

Carlos Ghosn Reveals Long Range Nissan LEAF

I visited Bristol yesterday to attend the Regen SW “Community Energy Markets” conference. More from me on the event in due course, but before that I must point out that Bristol is “European Green Capital” for 2015. Here’s a video revealing how Bristol looks from behind the wheel of the current Nissan LEAF:

Earlier this week BBC News revealed how Japan looks from behind the wheel of the current Nissan LEAF:

According to the BBC:

The boss of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, has not been shy about expressing his disdain for hydrogen. Instead, Nissan is betting on lithium ion batteries.

Coincidentally earlier this week Carlos Ghosn spoke at the Nissan annual shareholder’s meeting in Yokohama. Here’s the “Technology” part of his presentation:

All forthcoming products will reflect Nissan’s commitment to delivering breakthroughs that advance vehicle safety, efficiency, and connectivity.

During our discussion later in this meeting, we will update you on Nissan’s plans to introduce an autonomous drive vehicle by 2020. We are continuing to develop this exciting technology.

The vehicle that stands to my left features the latest versions of hardware and software that Nissan is developing.

The vehicle that stands to my right is another advanced technology breakthrough. It explores how far we can extend electric vehicle range by making changes to the battery.

Today there are only two reliable ways to increase electric vehicle range.

  • The first is to have a massive network of EV chargers, so that when you are away from home you have the ability to recharge easily.
  • The other option is to put a larger battery pack into the vehicle so that the driver enjoys greater range. However, with today’s level of technology, adding more battery means adding more cost.

As you know, Nissan has been one of the world’s foremost advocates for the development of recharging networks. With our efforts and the support of government and private sector partners, Japan has one of the most highly developed charging infrastructures in the world.

There are now more than 14,000 EV chargers, not including home chargers, in Japan. This means that EV drives already have the freedom to drive throughout mainland Japan without worrying about battery range.

Unlike customers in some other markets, where the charging networks are in earlier stages, customers in Japan who want to enjoy the benefits of driving a LEAF have no need to wait. Japan’s vast EV charging network already provides an incentive for you to move to Nissan’s zero-emission technology. And, during FY2015, the number of chargers in Japan will increase even further. However, that doesn’t mean we will become complacent and stop working to advance our battery and vehicle technologies.

We believe that, in the near future, Nissan can provide EV drivers with even greater “peace of mind” range, by offering comparative mobility to today’s conventional vehicles.

Nissan is exploring new materials and chemistry solutions in order to make thinner, lighter weight and less costly batteries. We foresee the day when you leave your home with a full charge, and are able to go about your day with no concerns…then return home with ample charge.

This video shows how we envision a routine day.

With this vision in mind, our advanced battery research will continue. But we will not wait for its completion to move forward. Later this year, you will hear more about our initial steps to increase EV range.

All of which puts me in mind of a couple of things a Nissan representative said in response to a question about “warranties” that was posed at the V2G workshop I attended earlier this month. It seems Nissan’s battery electric vehicle “warranty doesn’t prohibit V2G” and the “impact [of V2G] on the battery is insignificant”.

Solar PV Powered Public V2G Charging Launched in Utrecht

Earlier this week I attended a vehicle-to-grid workshop organised by Nissan Europe. This one was held in Utrecht in The Netherlands, where I discovered that the workshop coincided with the announcement of a new partnership between the City of Utrecht and a number of Dutch companies to ultimately deliver 120 “smart charging stations” across Utrecht. There’ll be more from me on the workshop itself in due course, but for now let’s take a close look at the world’s first publicly available solar powered V2G capable AC electric vehicle charging station:

The charging station itself is a GE DuraStation with added bi-directional capability. Sadly my wish of a few weeks ago has not yet come true, and the Tesla model S you can see in the foreground is still only capable of being charged by the DuraStation, which is IEC 61851/62196 mode 3 compliant. However the BYD e6 visible in the background IS able to discharge its batteries back to the local distribution grid.

This particular charger is situated outside the offices of LomboXnet, and hence integrated with the CHAdeMO compliant V2G system we reported on back in March, which stores the excess energy generated by the Solar PV installation at a nearby primary school. Here’s another angle on the event, showing Councillor Lot van Hooijdonk shortly after she cut the ribbon to officially open the charging station:

Another part of my wish from last month has also yet to come true. In Utrecht as in the United Kingdom, and despite the red carpet, whether you own an electric vehicle manufactured by Nissan, BYD or Tesla, and whether it prefers to be charged via CHAdeMO, IEC 62196 or a Supercharger, you still won’t get paid for allowing your battery pack to be used to provide an extremely useful service to the local distribution grid. However, perhaps mighty oaks from little acorns do eventually grow?

Whilst we wait to discover if/when/how that happens, here’s the video that Robin Berg of LomboXnet showed the attendees of the 3rd Nissan V2G workshop:

Renault-Nissan to Provide 200 Electric Vehicles for UN COP21 Paris Climate Conference

The Renault-Nissan Alliance announced today that they will provide a fleet of 200 all-electric vehicles as the official passenger-car provider for the United Nation’s COP21 climate conference in Paris later this year. The fleet of vehicles will include Renault’s ZOE and Kangoo Z.E. and Nissan’s LEAF and e-NV200. Here’s what a small part of it looks like:


According to the Alliance press release:

The partnership agreement was signed today between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and the General Secretary in charge of the preparation and organization of the 21st annual Conference of Parties (better known as COP21). The fully electric car fleet will shuttle delegates during the event from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

More than 20,000 U.N. participants from 195 countries are expected to attend the annual climate summit. It will be the first time the U.N. will use a zero-emission fleet for its entire passenger car shuttle at a COP event.

Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development and President of COP21, said that:

We are delighted to announce that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is an official partner of COP21 in Paris. Thanks to the Alliance’s fleet of 100% electric vehicles, it will contribute to our goal of achieving a carbon neutral event. The technology of electric vehicles helps reduce greenhouse gases in the transportation sector efficiently.

whilst Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said that:

Electric vehicle technology is an efficient solution for a practical and affordable mode of transportation. This solution has a positive impact on the climate and air quality in our cities. It’s time to accelerate the shift to zero-emission mobility by working together with all parties concerned.

At this point in time I cannot help but wonder what Amber Rudd and her new team at DECC will make of being ferried around Paris in 100% electric vehicles later this year? Maybe they’ll be so impressed that they will follow the lead of Paris and:

Set up network[s] of more than 50 quick and standard charging stations powered by 100% renewable energy in strategic locations. The quick charging stations will be able to charge the EVs from 0 to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes.

Tesla Energy Launches the Powerwall

In a much anticipated announcement last week Elon Musk told the world that Tesla Motors now had a sister business entitled “Tesla Energy” which would start delivering a new product called the Powerwall later this year. Here’s a video of Mr. Musk’s presentation:

Note that at around 2 minutes 25 seconds Elon points out that:

We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky called the Sun. You don’t have to do anything, it just works. It shows up every day and produces ridiculous amounts of power. Now a lot of people aren’t clear on how much surface area is needed to generate enough power to completely get the United States off of fossil fuels….

It’s really not much, and most of that area is going to be on rooftops. You won’t need to disturb land. You won’t need to find new areas. It’s mostly going to be on the roofs of existing homes and buildings.

Now the obvious problem with solar power is that the sun does not shine at night. This problem needs to be solved! we need to store the energy that is generated during the day so that we can use it at night.

I recommend watching the whole show, but if you’re the impatient sort then skip to 11 minutes 40 seconds and listen to this bit:

What about something that scales to much, much larger levels? For that we have something else. We have the Powerpack. The Tesla Powerpack is designed to scale infinitely. You can literally make this into a GWh solution. We already have one utility that wants to do a 250 MWh installation.

According to the Tesla Energy launch press pack:

Tesla is not just an automotive company, it’s an energy innovation company. Tesla Energy is a critical step in this mission to enable zero emission power generation.

With Tesla Energy, Tesla is amplifying its efforts to accelerate the move away from fossil fuels to a sustainable energy future with Tesla batteries, enabling homes, business, and utilities to store sustainable and renewable energy to manage power demand, provide backup power and increase grid resilience.

Tesla is already working with utilities and other renewable power partners around the world to deploy storage on the grid to improve resiliency and cleanliness of the grid as a whole.

Here’s a picture of the combination of Tesla’s two businesses:

Tesla Energy reveals a Model S in close proximity to a Powerwall

Tesla Energy reveals a Model S in close proximity to a Powerwall

and here’s their description of the Powerwall:

Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy at a residential level for load shifting, backup power and self-consumption of solar power generation. Powerwall consists of Tesla’s lithium-ion battery pack, liquid thermal control system and software that receives dispatch commands from a solar inverter. The unit mounts seamlessly on a wall and is integrated with the local grid to harness excess power and give customers the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve.

The battery can provide a number of different benefits to the customer including:

  • Load shifting – The battery can provide financial savings to its owner by charging during low rate periods when demand for electricity is lower and discharging during more expensive rate periods when electricity demand is higher
  • Increasing self-consumption of solar power generation – The battery can store surplus solar energy not used at the time it is generated and use that energy later when the sun is not shining
  • Back-up power – Assures power in the event of an outage

Powerwall increases the capacity for a household’s solar consumption, while also offering backup functionality during grid outages.

Powerwall is available in 10kWh, optimized for backup applications or 7kWh optimized for daily use applications. Both can be connected with solar or grid and both can provide backup power. The 10kWh Powerwall is optimized to provide backup when the grid goes down, providing power for your home when you need it most. When paired with solar power, the 7kWh Powerwall can be used in daily cycling to extend the environmental and cost benefits of solar into the night when sunlight is unavailable.

Since we are big fans of distributed energy storage here at V2G UK this is all music to our ears, but some things are strangely lacking from Tesla’s publicity.  Apparently:

Tesla’s selling price to installers is $3500 for 10kWh and $3000 for 7kWh. (Price excludes inverter and installation.) Deliveries begin in late Summer.

It looks as though inverters to attach to Powerwalls will be supplied by third parties and the pretty picture above notwithstanding connecting a Tesla Model S to one or more Powerwalls and thence to the local electricity distribution grid is a problem that has yet to be addressed by Tesla themselves.

There have been some associated press releases, such as this one from SolarEdge:

SolarEdge Technologies, Inc., a global leader in PV inverters, power optimizers, and module-level monitoring services, announced its collaboration with Tesla Motors to provide an inverter solution that will allow for grid and photovoltaic integration with Tesla’s home battery solution, the Powerwall.

The joint development by SolarEdge and Tesla builds on SolarEdge’s DC optimized inverter solution and Tesla’s automotive-grade energy storage technology to enable more cost-effective residential solar generation, storage, and consumption for the global market.

Designed to manage both functions with just one SolarEdge DC optimized inverter, the solution will allow for outdoor installation and will include remote monitoring and troubleshooting to keep operations and maintenance costs low. The solution will also support upgrading existing SolarEdge systems with the storage solution.

The SolarEdge solution is expected to be available by the end of 2015.

Once again, however, whilst the phrase “grid integration” is mentioned “vehicle to grid” is not. I cannot help but wonder when (and how) it will become possible for a Model S to earn its proud owner a modest income by feeding some of the energy stored in its battery pack back into the local grid at its times of greatest need.

Utrecht Gets V2G Based Energy Storage

In a ceremony at the Parkschool in the Lombok district of Utrecht on March 4th deputy Remco van Lunteren, officially opened the first Vehicle to Grid (V2G) energy storage system in Europe. The event was recorded for posterity:


The solar energy storage system supplied by Nissan charges electric cars but can also discharge their batteries in order to power houses. It helps to provide a higher return on solar power, reduces peak current on the grid and helps promote electric vehicles.  The opening of the V2G system is a sequel to the opening by Councillor Lot van Hooijdonk of a smart charging station from General Electric in Lombok on December 2nd 2014. The first charging station was unique because it had some built-in intelligence, and the V2G system adds an energy storage capability to it. Together, these are the first building blocks of Lombok’s Smart Solar Charging pilot project.

As the “Storage4all” project page puts it:

To create a truly smart grid using renewable energy, it is necessary to find a solution to the existing time differentials between generation and demand. The storage of energy is one way of achieving that.

Electric cars have a large storage capacity and are a major consumer of  future electric power generation. By making use of the storage facility of electric cars the “Smart Grid” can be made more sustainable.

In order to utilize the battery of an electric car for energy storage, it is necessary for the car batteries to be able to be discharged. In many cases this is not possible and the majority of EVs have internal protection against this. Only the Nissan LEAF currently has this possibility because of the Japanese market demand for storage (to protect against disruptions and power failures caused by earthquakes). The pilot project therefore initiated discussions with Nissan Europe and the provider of such a bi-directional charging system to achieve this in ​​Lombok.

Simulations show that there is much potential for storage of renewable energy in Smart Grids. Economically, it is not yet possible under current market conditions. The pilot project has ensured international recognition for this initiative, the development of the first European bi-directional charging station and a possible big roll out of them in Utrecht in the coming years.

Unfortunately market conditions here in the UK are currently also not economically favourable to this type of initiative.

Nissan and Endesa Pledge to Promote V2G in Europe

Nissan and Spanish utility Endesa have announced in a press release that they

Signed a ground-breaking agreement at the 85th Geneva International Motor Show that paves the way for a mass-market vehicle-to-grid (V2G) system.

The two companies have pledged to work together to deliver a V2G system and an innovative business model designed to leverage this technology.

If that sounds a touch unlikely to you, here’s the proof:

The press release goes on to explain that:

The two companies have agreed to collaborate on the following activities:

  • Introduction of V2G services in the European market;
  • Exploring the use of ‘second life’ EV batteries for stationary applications (including households, buildings, grid);
  • Designing and evaluating potential affordable energy and mobility pack offers;

One of the main challenges for electricity management systems is to assure grid stability. This situation is especially relevant in countries with a high level of renewable energy generation, and this will only increase in the future. The longer term zero-emission vision is for EVs to be at the center of a fully integrated system whereby owners can participate in wholesale energy markets using the power stored in the batteries of their electric vehicles, and thus significantly reduce their cost of operation. In a not-so-distant scenario, the EV user not only decides when and where they want to charge their EV, but how best they spend and re-sell the energy stored in their EV; receiving tangible financial benefits in terms of energy savings, while at the same time maximizing the use of green energy.

As is customary on these occasions the press release quotes executives from the two companies. Paul Willcox, Chairman of Nissan Europe said that:

We believe this innovation represents a significant development for Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 customers. Every Nissan electric vehicle battery contains a power storage capability that will prove useful in contributing towards smarter and responsible management of the power demand & supply of local power grids, thus reducing our EV total cost of ownership. Not only does this represent an opportunity for Nissan’s EV private and fleet owners, it could also support grid stability and fully demonstrate that each Nissan EV represents a tangible social asset.

whereas Javier Uriarte, Head of Market Iberia at Endesa, pointed out that:

The flexibility offered by V2G implementation in terms of storing and releasing green energy into the grid will further enhance the already significant and tangible benefits of electric mobility. This is why Endesa, together with its parent company Enel and partner Nissan, have decided to join efforts in promoting this technology.

Moving on to the technology employed:

The Vehicle to Grid (V2G) system consists of the Endesa two-way charger and an energy management system that can also integrate such off-grid, and renewable, power generation as solar panels and wind turbines. Using this equipment, a Nissan LEAF or e-NV200 owner can connect to charge at low-demand, and cheap tariff periods, with an option to then use the electricity stored in the vehicle’s battery at home when costs are higher, or even feed back to the grid with a net financial benefit. Electricity generated by solar panels or wind turbines can be used to charge a vehicle, to power the home or business, or to feed back to the grid.

This unprecedented agreement between Nissan and Endesa means that European countries can now review their current energy management policies in order to respond to the technological innovation of the V2G system.

Endesa has developed the ultimate low-cost V2G technology ready for the mass market after years of real-life testing. The company first showcased its V2G technology in 2008 in Smartcity Malaga, the Enel Group testing ground for smart cities. Later on, in 2012, Endesa presented the evolution of such technology at the ZEM2ALL demonstrator.

On March 12, 2015, as the culmination of the V2G system development, together with Nissan as automotive partner, Endesa will host a full demonstration of the market-ready and low cost system in Madrid.

Of course we’re not content with merely reading press releases here at V2G UK, and we have conducted an in depth interview with Olivier Paturet, who is General Manager of Nissan Europe’s zero emission strategy. Here’s a 2013 recording of Olivier outlining the raison d’être of Nissan’s ZEV plans:


 

Watch this space!

Energy and Climate Change Committee Criticise Capacity Market

The UK’s House of Commons Energy & Climate Change Select Committee issued a report today on the implementation of Electricity Market Reform which is highly critical of the new electricity capacity market. This may strike you (as it does me!) as a severe case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, but nonetheless the executive summary puts it this way:

The Government’s flagship Electricity Market Reform was designed to drive investment in our energy infrastructure and manage the transition towards generating low-carbon, secure and cost-effective electricity. After years of planning, the Government has successfully put in place the necessary framework for the first Capacity Market and Contract-for-Difference (CfD) auctions under EMR, and DECC, National Grid and the Low Carbon Contracts Company have been helpful in preparing industry in the run-up to the auctions.

However, the speed at which participants have had to assimilate the complex policies have made it a challenging environment for smaller companies, and DECC is still failing to ensure that demand-side response (DSR) providers are given a level playing field in the Capacity Market. In order to avoid paying for more expensive generation capacity that may not be needed in the future, the Government should consider means to further support DSR in the Capacity market, for instance by increasing the contract length of DSR capacity agreements.

There also remain strong concerns around National Grid’s potential conflicts of interest as EMR Delivery Body, and it is important that clear steps are taken to ensure that it does not have an unfair commercial advantage in future Capacity Market auctions.

Speaking as one of those “smaller companies” it seems from our perspective that the playing field is indeed located on a rather steep slope! Tim Yeo, chairperson of the committee, said that:

Every consumer in the country is currently subsidising spare electricity generating capacity that may only be used for a few hours each year. But smart technology has now made it possible to reduce unnecessary electricity demand at peak times, thereby reducing the number of polluting power stations that need to be switched on. This could mean we can reduce the total electricity generating capacity that has to be maintained in future, bringing down costs for consumers while enabling us to reduce consumption of fossil fuels.

Yet this promising new demand-side response technology has been disadvantaged in the auctions under the Government’s Capacity Market – meaning costs and emissions could be higher than necessary. Only a fraction of the £1 billion pounds that will be spent keeping the lights on through the Capacity Market will actually provide new capacity and just 0.4% will go on demand-side response – with most of the rest going to existing fossil fuel power stations, paying some of them to stand idle for much of the year. Nearly a fifth of the capacity contracts already awarded are going to highly polluting coal power stations.

Which sums things up quite nicely for us. We would go even further than Tim Yeo. Not only should Demand Side Response be getting a better deal, so should distributed energy storage in general and V2x in particular. Tim does however also point out that:

The results of the first CfD auction for long term low-carbon contracts show that small companies or community energy projects are in danger of being shut out. The fact that the final strike prices were cheaper than the administrative price is a very positive result, but it casts further doubts over the value-for-money of the early contracts for renewables under the Levy Control Framework.

The committee’s concluding bullet points read as follows:

DECC’s upcoming review on EMR should focus hard on the issues voiced by stakeholders and raised in the Committee’s report. In particular, it should focus on:

  • The role of highly polluting coal and diesel fired power generation in the capacity market
  • How to facilitate cheaper and cleaner demand-side solutions to keep the lights on
  • How potential conflicts of interest with National Grid will be avoided or addressed
  • How engagement with small players can be improved

to which we would add one of our own:

How to design UK energy markets such that distributed storage and generation operate on a level playing field?

Red Hat 64 Bit ARM Program Hardware Enablement Complete

As regular readers here will realise we have a liking for running Linux on ARM processors. Hence we were delighted to recently receive our very own quad core Raspberry Pi 2 to experiment with. Here’s what it looks like:

However we’ve recently received even more interesting news, to us at least. In a press release earlier this week Red Hat announced that:

The Red Hat ARM Partner Early Access Program has expanded to include more than 35 member companies, ranging from silicon vendors and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to independent software vendors (ISVs).

According to Mike Werner, who is Senior Director of Global Technology Ecosystems at Red Hat:

Since its launch just over six months ago, the Red Hat ARM Partner Early Access Program has achieved two critical goals, driving significant interest and participation from both hardware vendors and independent software vendors as well as the successful completion of the hardware enablement phase. The program is a perfect example of how Red Hat, along with our vast network of partners and ISVs, drives standardization within specific technology segments, with the ultimate goal of delivery of fully tested and certified solutions to the marketplace.

whilst Kumar Sankaran, who is an associate vice president at Applied Micro, said that:

As the only silicon vendor shipping an enterprise-hardened, ARMv8-A Server-on-a-ChipTM solution and an initial participant of the Red Hat ARM Partner Early Access Program, we are pleased to continue our work with Red Hat. The program is strengthening the entire ARM 64-bit ecosystem while allowing OEM and end-user partners the opportunity to work with fully operational software and hardware. We have had a great working relationship with Red Hat dating back to our X-Gene launch in 2011 and we are excited to provide a serious alternative to incumbent solutions.

and Susan Blocher, who is Hewlett Packard’s vice president of Product Management and Business Development for their Moonshot server range, said that:

Today, customers are already leveraging the industry-leading HP Moonshot servers with 64-bit ARM technology to improve application performance, drive business innovation and deliver breakthrough datacenter economics. We are committed to working with partners in the Red Hat Partner Early Access Program to extend the ARM ecosystem and deliver enterprise-ready solutions to address customer challenges.

The practical benefits to all concerned are summed up by Red Hat as follows:

Launched in July 2014 with nine participants, the program aims to deliver, via collaboration, a singular operating platform capable of supporting multiple partner-initiated system designs based on the 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture. As a part of that commitment, program participants have successfully completed the hardware enablement phase by incorporating necessary architectural requirements into the latest version of the development software. Based on that, Red Hat ARM Partner Early Access Program participants are now expected to contribute system-specific software and drivers to an open source upstream Linux community for incorporation into future commercial offerings.

Bear in mind that it costs rather more than the $35 that a Raspberry Pi 2 will set you back, but here’s what an HP 64 bit ARM Moonshot server cartridge looks like:

Bear in mind also that whether you’re considering a Raspberry Pi, a Moonshot or a data centre packed full of ARMv8s, an ARM CPU delivers rather more bang per Watt than the average microprocessor.

Is Apple Developing an Electric Vehicle?

According to Bloomberg the answer to the question posed in our title is a most definite yes! In a February 19th article Tim Higgins says that:

Apple Inc., which has been working secretly on a car, is pushing its team to begin production of an electric vehicle as early as 2020, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The timeframe — automakers typically spend five to seven years developing a car — underscores the project’s aggressive goals and could set the stage for a battle for customers with Tesla Motors Inc. and General Motors Co., both of which are targeting a 2017 release of an electric vehicle that can go more than 200 miles on a single charge and cost less than $40,000.

then adds that:

Apple representatives declined to comment for this story.

According to Bloomberg, however:

Apple began around June an “aggressive campaign to poach” employees from A123 Systems LLC, the Waltham, Massachusetts-based battery maker said in a lawsuit against Apple filed this month.

Apple hired five people from A123 and has tried to hire battery experts from LG Chem Ltd, Samsung Electronics Co., Panasonic Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Johnson Controls Inc., according to the lawsuit.

Bloomberg also talked to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who told them:

That Apple was seeking to hire away his workers, offering $250,000 signing bonuses and 60 percent salary increases.

It seems as though when it comes to EVs, there’s never any smoke without fire?

[Edit – Saturday February 21st 2015]

This morning’s edition of The Economist includes an article on the Apple EV rumours:

APPLE’S ability to make desirable iGadgets designed for easy portability is beyond question. Reports emerged this week that it is planning to make a mobile device that will instead carry its users—an electric car. Apple’s plans are unclear and unconfirmed. By some accounts it has put a few hundred people to work developing cars to match Tesla, another Silicon Valley firm that makes fast and luxurious battery-powered saloons. Others reckon that it is working on a self-driving car.

Plenty of other tech firms are turning their attention to cars. In February Uber, a firm that provides taxis through a smartphone app, said it would set up a laboratory in Pittsburgh to develop self-driving taxis. Sony recently put money into ZMP, a self-driving car startup; Google has been working for years on driverless cars.

The Economist doesn’t sound optimistic about the future for the alleged Apple EV:

The likes of Apple may not know much about pistons and gearboxes, but the big challenge for electric cars is batteries. Battery-powered cars have many advantages: refuelling at home, cheap running costs and no tailpipe emissions. But the market for pure electric vehicles is tiny:

Expensive batteries make for costly cars, and limited range and a lack of recharging infrastructure have put off most drivers. Nissan’s Leaf, the world’s best-selling electric car, attracted only 40,000 buyers last year compared with the 250,000 the company once hoped to shift. Tesla aspires to enter the mass market but so far it has dealt with the battery problem by putting lots of them in a big, expensive car, thereby limiting it to a luxury niche. The plunging oil price dents the prospects for electrification still further.

and concludes:

Tech firms may be better off working with carmakers, to develop the software that will provide the brains of the self-driving car, and to improve the range and battery costs of the electric car. In the motor industry, supplying the key parts is generally more profitable than putting the cars together, even if you do not get your company’s badge on the bonnet. In the future cars will be different but the brands will probably be much the same.