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Smart grids: supporting efficient, affordable, sustainable and secure energy



The UK is on the cusp of breakthrough technology that could transform energy networks worldwide. Alex Blackburne spoke with Robert McNamara of SmartGrid GB about the future of smart grid development.

At a time when Britain’s energy bills are up in the air, it will come as a refreshing surprise to most that there is a solution that addresses, amongst other things, sustainability and cost issues, whilst offering the potential to help us shift towards a green, low-carbon economy.

Connecting some of the world’s most innovative technologies and industries in an effort to stabilise energy markets, smart grids are seen by many as the future of energy network development.

Robert McNamara is manager of SmartGrid GB, a group that represents 23 companies from across the energy and technology industries. It was set up to support the Government and provide advice on how smart grid development should move forward.

That’s all well and good, you might think, but what is a smart grid? McNamara clears it up for us.

There is a consensus around the idea that it’s about the application of technology to energy networks to make them more efficient and secure, and to help provide more affordable energy for generations to come”, he explains.

The question at the moment is that with electricity demand rising significantly over the coming decades, how is the grid going to be able to deal with that rise in electricity demand?

For example, when every street is charging their electric vehicle at 7 o’clock in the evening, how will the local grid infrastructure deal with that?

The idea is that if you apply smart technologies to energy networks, you could be able to better manage increased demand by shifting it.

So, in essence, a smart grid is a clever and cleaner version of our current energy network, drawing together different ground-breaking technologies and linking them in one intelligent system.

And Britain, according to a recent SmartGrid GB report, is ideally-placed to be at the forefront of the revolution.

Smart Grid: a race worth winning? outlines the massive potential benefits involved in the UK getting out of the smart grid blocks quickly—and not just economic ones either.

It was launched in April, with energy minister Charles Hendry in attendance.

The study predicts that some 10,000 jobs would be created in Britain with a transition to smart grids, whilst overseas exports could exceed £5 billion.

But the study also stresses the need for fast action.

A lot of governments around the world are looking at modernising the way they generate, transmit and distribute energy, and certainly a lot of them are looking at smart grid”, McNamara states.

The point with our report was to show that the UK is one of the world leaders in smart grid development.

“We are very heavily in green technologies, we’ve got the largest smart meter rollout of its kind in the world and we have a really impressive initiative called the Low Carbon Networks Fund.

“The concern however, is that there isn’t an overarching plan as to how we join together all these initiatives and make a British smart grid a reality.

Other countries like Japan and Korea have policy certainty, and in turn, they might benefit from developing smart grid industries.

If the UK is serious about smart grid development and wants to keep up with its competitors, it needs much more certainty over what needs to be done.”

With this in mind, the report sets out seven recommendations to achieve an intelligent energy network, which it says will be 50% cheaper in the long run than just upgrading conventional networks—costing £23 billion as opposed to £46 billion.

The recommendations include increased guidance from policy makers, protecting consumers against the potential risks of smart grid, being open-minded with regards to the industry models, wider and larger scale pilot projects, and also investment in skills to ensure maximum employment benefits.

With smart grid comes the opportunity for Britain to rise as an innovator in a technological field that is likely to be adopted globally, with obvious economic and employment benefits.

And judging by the findings of the SmartGrid GB report, with governmental support, this needn’t simply be a starry-eyed vision of the future.

Further reading:

The future of intelligent energy


What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?




shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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