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    Fact checking Elon Musk’s Blue Square: How much solar to power the US?

    By Andrew ZP Smith, on 21 May 2015

    How much power do solar photovoltaic systems produce per unit of land area? And does it matter: is it a constraint in the real world?


    At Elon Musk’s glitzy launch of the Tesla PowerWall and PowerPack batteries, the Tesla CEO showed a map of the US, with a small square in the North-West corner of Texas marked in blue, and said that solar panels over that surface area would be enough to enable US electricity to go carbon-free.

    Here’s a quick fact-check on that claim. Read the rest of this entry »

    The value and importance of POE and BPE – a case study

    By Sofie Pelsmakers, on 23 April 2015


    Carrie Behar presenting the POE/BPE results

    For Green Sky Thinking 2015, ECD architects presented the initial findings of a detailed Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) and Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) of their own offices. The POE was led by Carrie Behar, a doctoral researcher at the Bartlett, UCL Energy Institute, where she also runs the POE module for MSc students. Read the rest of this entry »

    Financing Home Energy Efficiency: Lessons from the Green Deal and Needs for the Future

    By Lucas D Van Laack, on 14 April 2015

    Thermal Image of the HouseOn the 24th of March 2015, Mark Bayley, the Chief Executive and Petter Allison, the Commercial Director of the Green Deal Finance Company came to visit the UCL Energy Institute to present their inside knowledge on the start-up phase and the current development of the Green Deal. Read the rest of this entry »

    UCL Energy Institute participates in Mexico’s President round table on the opportunities of building a sustainable energy economy in the UK and Mexico

    By Baltazar Solano Rodriguez, on 13 April 2015

    UCL Energy Institute participates in Mexico’s President round table on the opportunities of building a sustainable energy economy in the UK and Mexico

    James Smith, Chairman of the Carbon Trust and ex-Chair of Shell UK moderated the discussion and summarised the outcome to the President of Mexico and UK government representatives.


    Recently I took part in a high level round table on the opportunities of building a sustainable energy economy in the UK and in Mexico. The event was held on the occasion of the State Visit of the President of Mexico to the United Kingdom. This was a select roundtable discussion building on a dialogue initiated in Campeche, Mexico during HRH The Prince of Wales’s visit in November 2014. The roundtable was held in conjunction with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; its aim was to debate areas of future co-operation through knowledge and technology transfer that will help each nation successfully meet their mutually ambitious carbon reduction targets, whilst addressing the challenges posed by the transition to a low carbon energy system.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    More than a third of people would let their energy supplier turn off their heating

    By Michael Fell, on 23 March 2015

    nest A sinister engineer in orange overalls and dark glasses looms from behind your fridge, hands raised, as if to strike… This is the scenario painted in the Daily Mail in a 2013 article on ‘direct load control’, or the possibility that third parties (‘outside forces’) such as energy suppliers could turn appliances in people’s home off and on to help keep the UK’s electricity system in balance.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Careers in Energy 2015

    By Lucas D Van Laack, on 23 February 2015

    careers-path-womanUCL’s career events are really something you should not miss: A large number of UCL students from the related studies visited the last event “Careers in Energy 2015” in the white pavilion in the main quad.

    Here, young representatives from larger-sized companies as well as from fresh startups spoke about their personal experiences of entering the job market in the energy sector after they had completed their own education.

    In that way, it made it very easy for students to relate to and exchange ideas in a more casual way. Even though the companies did not offer vacancies to the students directly, there was plenty of room to discuss possible internships or dissertation topics, which may be beneficial at a later stage.

    The most important message though, came from one of the speakers: “Sustainability is like wrestling with a gorilla, you don’t give up when you are tired, you give up when the gorilla is tired!” This short message made it clear that there are plenty of opportunities out there. If one feels neglected, it is important to stand up again. As the issues about energy and climate change are likely to worsen with every minute, we now really need people to work together to tackle those issues.

    For the next event, it would be great to hear a bit more about the career opportunities for students from overseas, as not all companies are willing to hire students who require a visa. It is important that also these students benefit from UCL Careers’ Events.

    And finally, a brief hint from some students: Always bring your business cards, that can sometimes do wonders!

    Thanks to the great presentations and ideas we got from Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Green Tomato Energy, Rambøll, E4Tech, Element Energy, Zero Carbon Hub, Sustainable Engineering Collective and National Grid.


    Post by
    Lucas van Laack
    MSc Environmental Design and Engineering
    Student Representative Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment
    UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (IEDE)

    How come the lights don’t go out more often? Keith Bell discusses the challenges facing the UK power system.

    By Pamela Fennell, on 11 February 2015

    Keith Bell, the Scottish Power Professor of Smart Grids at Strathclyde University visited the UCL Energy Institute at the end of January to give a talk about the risks and challenges facing the UK power system and the role of smart grids in responding to them.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Solving Financing Difficulties faced by Cleantech Companies

    By Boran Li, on 4 February 2015

    As reported recently by GreentechMedia, venture capitals (VCs) are getting less interested about investing in cleantech companies, possibly due to previous renewable projects’ unimpressive returns and bad reputations among investors.  Read the rest of this entry »

    Where are economy seven tariffs used in GB?

    By Ed Sharp, on 30 January 2015

    Economy seven tariffs provide an alternative to electricity consumers in Britain, allowing users to pay less for electricity during the night.  The cheaper period last 7 hours but may be discontinuous. Rate savings during this period of up to 50% are possible, but daytime rates may be higher or a charge applied.  Very useful if you are at work all day and you can put appliances such as a washing machine or water heaters on a timer. Read the rest of this entry »

    Future Energy – Thoughts on conditions for environmentally sound UK shale gas development

    By Paul Ekins, on 28 January 2015

    shale gas extraction © istockphotoTwo recently published papers (McGlade & Ekins (2015) and McGlade et al. (2014)) examine possible futures for fossil fuels, with a particular focus on the ‘bridging’ role that natural gas may be able to play during a transition to a global low-carbon energy system. Drawing on the findings of these papers, we have commented that the UK may be able to develop some of its potential shale gas resources within the context of a global effort to keep average global warming below 2 oC with a reasonable likelihood. This note aims to discuss the conditions that we consider are necessary for this to be the case. Read the rest of this entry »