Category Archives: Ecotricity

In Praise of the Ecotricity Charging Network

Last week I took a bunch of friends to a concert by the progressive rock band Haken. The round trip distance from Northampton to Nottingham was 150 miles. So, even in the new i3, I knew I would need a charge or be constrained to keep my speed low.

With a bit of Googling I settled on parking at the Victoria shopping centre as it had a charge point. On arriving we plugged in and I started a charge using an old Plugged in Midlands card.

The concert was great and Haken were in fine form. However afterwards we returned to the car to find the charge had failed. Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to monitor its progress on my smartphone as the location had no signal.

So we went to Plan B and stopped off on the way back at Donnington Services to top up on the Ecotricity rapid charger. Although we might have gotten away with just a ten minute charge, there were signs saying the M1 was closed further south so I gave it a  good 20 minutes instead.

After a coffee and a Danish we were on our way. It turned out that it wasn’t just the M1 that was shut but also the main alternative, the A5, so we had to divert a long way out via Rugby.

The i3’s range was more than up to it though and we got home with charge to spare. The trip took place after going to work earlier in the day so the i3 had done 200 miles in a day without trouble. And all for £8.70 in fuel costs (the daytime charging at work in Milton Keynes).

Charging at Cherwell (Image: T. Heale)

Rapid Charging an Ioniq eMotor?

Where were we? Ah yes. I have my Ecotricity* Android App and my Chargemaster Polar RFID card. I’m ready for the big leagues. Rapid high current charging here I come. “Gather yourself woman!” I said. “We’re off into the countryside”.

An hour out from Milton Keynes, we’re tootling down the M40 on a misty Saturday afternoon and the Memsahib challenges Satnag to guide us home. Duly programmed Satnag does its thing and Ioniq interrupts proceedings with a message of gloom and disaster.

“You will never see your destination. Doom! Doom again! Woe betide the fool that tries to… ”.

Well that’s what it felt like and now I know what Range Anxiety (RA) can do to a fella. It’s not nice.
The actual message? “You have insufficient charge to reach your destination”. And then as an afterthought “Would you like to know the nearest defibrillator?” or did it say “charge point”? You get how I’m feeling.
Five miles later we arrive at Moto Cherwell Valley. Some semblance of cognition kicks in as I remember that electric charge points aren’t located near the liquid fuels and we play hunt the charge point in the car park.

Look, as evidenced in this image…  We won 🙂

Charging at Cherwell (Image: T. Heale)
Charging at Cherwell (Image: T. Heale)

We didn’t know yet but something was wrong. Not the process, no, that was fine. Introductions went well:

  • Phone, App – Say hello to – Charge point.
  • Charge point – Phone App.

Electronic handshaking takes place. This is so much easier than I expected. “Do you accept the cost?”. I accepted. Grudgingly. I don’t have my free charges yet but £6 is still a bargain.
Found the AC connector. It looked exactly like the one at home (some of you are jumping ahead) and Click! The blue charging lights coming on the App assures me I’ll be told when to come back.

RA sorted, I notice that my back teeth are floating and the cold isn’t helping. Time to get in out of the cold and find the toilets.

Just consider that a moment. Find the toilets.

Why would I have to try to find the toilets? More to the point why would any public place hide the ^%$%ing toilets? I have visited facilities in many service stations. They’ve always been near the entrance and clearly labelled. Moto Cherwell Valley believe otherwise**. Plan accordingly if you stop there.

Mind, body and spirit at ease we look dotingly out of the window at eMotor suckling at the Ecotricity teat. All is well with the world. You know it isn’t but we don’t. Yet.

Let me offer you some simple advice for these times. Bring a book or magazine or something. If it’s going to be a flask and some sandwiches stay in the car so as to avoid being turfed out for not buying anything.

Forty minutes later, I’m feeling concerned. There has been no word from App. We go back to eMotor and the charge lights are off. I’m not concerned any more. We can be on our way and I’ll take App to task later.

In five minutes time I will be talking to a helpful young man (Victor) at ecotricity.

Pre-launch checks show we now have sixteen more miles than what we came in with.
What? Sixteen? One six? Not six zero? Grrrrr at all things electric!
“Breathe” She says. I breathe.
“That cost me six quid!” I breathe again.
“Where’s my phone?” I breathe again.
There’s a number on the charge point if you have any problem.

Turns out that there were two charge points and I parked at the wrong one. You live and learn.

This is for slow charges (Image: T. Heale)
This is for slow charges (Image: T. Heale)
This is for rapid charges (Image: T. Heale)
This is for rapid charges (Image: T. Heale)

BTW – The Ioniq eMotor? It is a fantastic machine. Pure pleasure to drive.

Bye for now. I’ll be in touch.

 

*Yes their logo is ecotricity but I believe in Capitalization for proper nouns.

** Enter building***. Fight through crowd. Pass the hot drinks turn right. Fight through crowd armed with hot drinks and food. Look into the distance on the left side there is a small sign about two thirds of the way down.  Small sign with even smaller logos representing the genders.

***If you exit the building to the outdoor seated area the doors open automatically so you can look at you eMotor unobstructed. When you walk back in mind your nose (or other protuberance), the doors do not open of their own accord.

Trevor Heale at home in his new Ioniq Electric (Image: T. Larkum)

So I Own an Ioniq eMotor (Electric Vehicle)

One week into the new and exciting world of my new eMotor and I’m looking to venture further afield.

Trevor Heale at home in his new Ioniq Electric (Image: T. Larkum)
Trevor Heale at home in his new Ioniq Electric (Image: T. Larkum)

Home charging is easy, if a little long with a 13amp plug and I eagerly await my 32 amp POD Point to take advantage of cheap night rate electricity. It’s still called Economy 7 you know, just like it used to be way back when.

I mentioned in my previous post I was tackling range anxiety. Doing so within the confines of Milton Keynes (MK) seemed sensible. It was fun using sport mode to drain the battery 🙂
At eighteen miles range remaining all the appropriate warning lights went off (came on?) and…

I continued driving!

Yup. I continued. I’m that kind of chap.
Brave huh? Yes, for a given value of brave. Eco mode made me feel a little more secure.
After a couple of miles of tormenting lights, prudence reared her head and I agreed with her. It was time for me to tackle my first rapid charge.

Dear reader please forgive me as I wave my ignorance at you in the following.

I pulled over, stopped and pressed lots of buttons* (no manual yet). Within moments I had a map of Milton Keynes and dozens of choices to hoover up some power. Ooh how happy and clever I felt.

It didn’t last.

Broughton is a newer area in MK so I chose to explore it and fill up there. Yes, since you ask, it happened to be the nearest point. Remember, I’m working on my range anxiety.

If I’d known the area I would’ve stayed on the main road and seen the chargers by the local shops. I didn’t. Satnag** said turn right into Cavan Way and I did. The location of the charger and the satnav were at odds by approximately one road and two hundred yards. I’ll remember that in future searches.

I parked (reversing cameras are great) and tackled the Monolith. Which cable/connector to use? Easy I know my plug options. Now, where do I pay? Ok. Sigh. I’ll read the instructions. Bu**er!

One of the many Polar rapid charge points around Milton Keynes, this one is in Central MK (Image: T. Larkum)
One of the many Polar rapid charge points around Milton Keynes, this one is in Central MK (Image: T. Larkum)

Yeah, I knew somewhere in the back of my mind you needed a card but surely I can just buy some electric? Just a little bit for cash? Eh? Hole in the wall technology right? Wrong. Holes in the wall are mostly for getting money out not for putting it in.
I closed my recharging flap (that’s not a euphemism) and did the walk of ignorance and shame back to my comfy leather seat. It felt further than the three paces. The heated seat and steering wheel cheered me until I was back at home with my three pin plug.

So take heed brave new adventurers, preparation is required to charge away from home.

I have now joined the Chargemaster Polar Network and Ecotricity (for the motorway free charges). Currently the Polar network has a six month offer free of standing charge. I’ll review my use of their service in May 🙂

One other thing. eMotors are eligible for free parking in MK once you have a green permit. Apply on line at the MK Council website.

BTW – The Ioniq eMotor? It is a fantastic machine. Pure pleasure to drive.

Bye for now. I’ll be in touch.

* The next day I noticed a horrible whining noise. My shock and disappointment convinced me a motor bearing was on the way out. Hang on what’s that light? Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS) active. Not now it isn’t.

** Thank you Lewis Randall for “Satnag” 🙂

[The next part is here.]

AC Rapid Charging an i3 94Ah

We’re currently on our way in the i3 from Northampton to Surrey, to visit relatives for New Year’s Eve. It seems like most of the few CCS charge points operated by Ecotricity at motorway services are offline today.

I have therefore planned to charge at public charge points near our destination. However, since we always stop at Toddington services going south for the toilets anyway, I thought I’d try an AC charge here (Toddington has no CCS/DC cable).

The i3, of course, does its slow charging on AC (alternating current) like all electric cars and its rapid charging on DC (direct current) like all electric cars except the Renault ZOE. However, the new i3 (the ’94ah’) has a trick up its sleeve – it can ‘medium charge’ on 3 phase AC (a feature shared only with the Tesla).

After about 10 minutes of mucking about with the Ecotricity app on my ‘phone it finally loaded, and the car started charging from the Type 2 cable (intended for rapid charging a ZOE). About quarter of an hour later, when we were ready to leave, we had taken on 2.5kWh of electricity. 2.5kWh in 14 minutes equates to about 11 kW charging power, which is what the i3 can theoretically achieve so it’s encouraging to see it working in a real situation.

2.5kWh charge after 14 minutes (Image: T. Larkum)
2.5kWh charge after 14 minutes (Image: T. Larkum)

Having said that, we only gained about 10 miles of range (so about 40 miles per hour). That’s certainly better than nothing, but doesn’t compete with true DC rapid charging where that’s available.

[Part 2 is here]

The Pain of Public Charging

I haven’t written one of these posts for some time as the public charging infrastructure has improved significantly in scale and reliability over the last three years. However, so far today has been a bit like returning to the bad old days.

We’re driving from Northampton to Stoke for one of our daughter’s regular gymnastics events. It’s fairly relaxed as with the new i3 94Ah we have plenty of range to get there without charging en route.

However as the family needed two comfort breaks on the way I took the opportunities to try charging. The results were disappointing.

At Corley Services on the M6 there was a Leaf at one of the two Ecotricity charge points. Unfortunately it was the only one that had a CCS connector compatible with the i3 so I could see I wasn’t going to get a charge. In fact it looked like he was having problems and was on the phone to Ecotricity. However when I came back out of the building later I could see and hear he was charging.

I was more hopeful at Stafford services when pulling in as both charge points were vacant. However I had 3 failed attempts to charge using the Ecotricity app, with the message ‘Remote Start failed’.

At that point I gave up and we got back on the motorway. At least with the i3 94Ah we could get where we were going without needing to charge.

[Part 2]

A row of electric cars at a rapid charger station (Image: Ecotricity)

Major changes in Electric Highway as revolution continues at pace

After five years, 30 million miles and £2.5 million pounds worth of free travel – Ecotricity will finally begin charging electric car drivers for using Britain’s most comprehensive car charging network – the Electric Highway.

A row of electric cars at a rapid charger station (Image: Ecotricity)
A row of electric cars at a rapid charger station (Image: Ecotricity)

A rapid charge of up to thirty minutes will cost £6, still significantly less than the equivalent cost of a petrol or diesel car, while the network will remain free for Ecotricity domestic energy customerssubject to fair use policy.

The almost 40,000 members of the Electric Highway will need to download a new mobile phone app to make payments, which will have the added functions of a ‘live feed’ of the entire network, so users can see the location and availability of their nearest pump, making it easier for you to plan your journeys.

The Electric Highway is the most comprehensive car charging network in Europe, with nearly 300 ‘Ecotricity Pumps’ across Britain which enable electric car drivers to travel the length and breadth of the country using nothing but renewable energy. Up until now it’s been the only charging infrastructure in Britain that was available completely free of charge. It currently powers around two million miles a month and has powered more than 30 million miles since 2011.

The usage trebled in 2015 and it has been so successful in encouraging the uptake of electric cars that it is now necessary to start charging for the service in order to maintain and grow the network.

A new mobile phone app will replace the current card system, which will be available for Apple and Android devices and will enable users to manage their accounts, pay for charging and check the status of chargers all in one place.

The switch to charging will be manually implemented at all charging points, with work starting on 11 July and expected to be completed by Friday 5 August. This will mean that the changeover to the app payment system will be gradual, with some chargers continuing to work via the free card system later than others.

Ecotricity believes that by 2030 every new car should be electric (pure or hybrid), and that by 2040 they should be the only cars on the road.

Electric Highway facts and stats, as of 31st May 2016:

  • The first Electric Highway pump was installed on 27 July 2011
  • Ecotricity has since installed a total of 296 Electric Highway chargers, of which 276 are rapid chargers
  • There are Electric Highway chargers across 96% of the British motorway network
  • The network stretches from John O’Groats to Land’s End. Jonathan Porterfield and Chris Ramsey were the first drivers to travel the length of the country only using public charging points –  a round trip that took 27 hours and 46 minutes in September 2015 and relied almost entirely on the Electric Highway
  • The Electric Highway has powered a total of 30 million miles totally free of charge
  • May 2016 was the busiest month of all time on the network. During the month, the Electric Highway powered 2,170,625 miles with 10,121 customers powering their cars with 347.3MWh of electricity through 43,211 separate charges. That’s the equivalent of having a car charging during every minute of every day throughout the month
  • 38,537 customers currently hold Electric Highway cards

Source: Ecotricity News

Ecotricity acquires SunEdison UK solar business

Ecotricity, Britain’s leading green energy company, today announced that it has acquired the home rooftop solar business of SunEdison.

ecotricity-acquires_sunedison_uk-solar-business_ecotricity

Before exiting the UK, SunEdison had built a portfolio of nearly a thousand rooftop solar installations, a product known as the Energy Saver Plan.

The news comes on the day SunEdison Inc. filed for bankruptcy in the U.S.

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said:

“This is an exciting and important step for Ecotricity. As a company, we want to help more people generate their own power at home.

“The government’s cuts to the feed-in tariff, and its broader attack on the renewables industry, have caused a significant problem for companies like SunEdison: we have seen some go bust and others quit the UK market as a result, losing a lot of jobs as a result.

“This is our first step into the domestic solar market, and as the price of the technology continues to fall, we’re confident that it’s only a matter of time before we can resume the work SunEdison started and help more homes take advantage of solar power.”

Ecotricity, who now supply approaching 200,000 customers from a fleet of wind and sun parks, last made an acquisition in 2014 when they rescued small windmill company Evance from administration – uniting Evance with other supply chain companies, Ecotricity formed a new small windmill company called Britwind.

Dale said:

“We see a big future for renewable technology of this scale in Britain – small wind and rooftop solar will allow more people to generate their own power at home, decentralising the energy sector and putting power in the hands of the people.”

Source: Ecotricity

Drive like the wind: Electric Highway

“Five years ago, it was said that one of the main reasons people weren’t buying electric cars was because of a lack places to charge them – and the main reason more places to charge weren’t being built was because not enough people were buying electric cars – classic chicken and egg stuff,” says Dale Vince, former new age traveller and outspoken founder of the world’s first green energy company, Ecotricity. “We decided to break that impasse.”

AG_SOUTHAUSTRALIA_VISIT_Ecotricity

Vince received an OBE from the Queen for services to the environment in 2004. In 2011, Ecotricity created the Electric Highway, the first national network of fast chargers in Britain. Free, compatible with all electric vehicles on the market, and powered by the wind and the sun, it is now the most comprehensive charging network in Europe.

Vince says:

“We built Britain’s first electric supercar, the Nemesis, in 2010 – we wanted to show the true potential of electric cars and demonstrate how we can get around without fossil fuels. We had to shake the old image of the electric car first. The next step was to tackle the infrastructure problem, which led us to conceive of the Electric Highway.”

With Ecotricity pumps covering the entire motorway network in Britain, as well as strategic A-roads, ports and airports, electric cars are now reality in Britain – as owners travel the length and breadth of the country, literally from John O’Groats to Lands’ End.

Vince started by installing essentially three-pin plugs on the British motorway network. These would take eight hours to charge a car. Fast forward five years and there are now multiple charging networks across Britain, but the Electric Highway still leads the way, with nearly 300 Electricity pumps across the British motorway network that can charge in as little as 20 minutes.

Every charge uses Ecotricity’s 100% green energy, from the wind and sun – enabling electric cars to reach their true potential, zero emission free driving. And it’s been completely free to use since 2011, to encourage more people to make the switch.

“Our work fits in perfectly with the target the whole world agreed to in Paris last year,” adds Vince, “to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees or less. To achieve this, we simply must stop burning fossil fuels by 2050, and that requires nothing short of a revolution in the three biggest areas of impact – energy, transport and food. The revolution is already underway on British roads.”

Transport is currently one of the biggest contributors towards our personal carbon footprints, so the Electric Highway network offers a solution to one of the world’s greatest problems.

Source: Atlas of the Future