The Crucial Role for Electrical Contractors in the Green Revolution
Energy is always going to play a vital role in both economic and human development to increase the quality of life for the whole world. The 21st century is seeing the rapid growth of the world’s population leading to an ever-increasing demand for the consumption of energy. Interestingly, environmental trends have identified the green revolution is working towards a more sustainable electric future. As an electrical contractor, you don’t want to be left in the dark (if you pardon the pun), by the lucrative opportunities that the green revolution offers. Understanding the critical role an electrical contractor plays should motivate you to make informed decisions, helping to maintain your competitive advantage. This post will help you to identify the opportunities by shining the spotlight on an electrical contractors’ critical role in the green revolution concerning electric cars, solar energy and wind energy.
Electric Cars – Recharging and Maintenance
Electric vehicles (EVs) have existed since the 19th century, with mobility scooters and forklifts being the main vehicles manufactured. Rathbone Greenbank Investments’ report states that recent technological innovations such as improved battery chemistry and drive-by-wire/brake-by-wire technology, coupled with an associated fall in costs are bringing EV’s closer to disrupting the internal combustion engine’s dominance. This has resulted in the rise of the production and purchase of electric cars.
The total cost of owning an EV compared to a more traditional petrol and diesel car is becoming an increasingly attractive factor for consumers. General Motors and Tesla are planning to launch electric cars with ranges of 200 to 300 miles for around £26,800, which is the average cost of new petrol-run vehicles. There are many attractive benefits to owning electric cars. In London, EVs are exempt from the congestion charge. EVs displace harmful air pollutants and decrease noise, particularly in urban driving conditions, which has seen “many governments devising measures to incentivise both manufacturers and consumers towards EVs in an attempt to reduce pollution”.
Every hybrid or all-electric car requires a charging station to carry out its function. Manufacturers provide the equipment, and the role of electrical contractors is to install the electrical infrastructure for the EV charger. This advancement has created the opportunity for electrical companies to diversify their services as the increase in the desire for EVs means that electricity supply chargers need to be installed and maintained throughout the UK. This has proved to be popular in cities where there are high populations. To be able to connect millions of vehicles to electricity grids without a negative impact on the environment, there must be an integrated approach to power supply and demand to ensure the use of green electricity sources. Otherwise, the anticipated increase in peak load demand would require new investments in electricity generation and grid capacity.
Currently, renewable energy accounts for 22% of all global electricity generation and over 3.4% of Britain’s total electricity generation.
The cost of solar technology has been falling rapidly and is entering new areas of competitiveness as the ability for solar towers to achieve higher operating temperatures with molten salt appears to improve thermal efficiency and hence, per unit energy production cost is lowered. Furthermore, integrating solar panels with low-cost thermal energy storage systems would capture peak market prices. The solar energy resource is enormous compared to energy demands. Capturing and transforming the sunlight into heat or electricity will supply a climate-friendly, clean, inexhaustible and very abundant energy resource. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that the average UK home with a solar PV system installed could reduce carbon emissions by 1.2 to 1.7 tonnes per year. If you multiply this statistic by the current estimate of 800,000 homes, utilising solar PV panels and the numerous solar parks in operation across the UK, the result is a significant reduction in the UK’s carbon footprint.
Another benefit of solar energy is that it drives atmospheric pressure differences which produces wind and allows you to create wind energy. Wind energy is another renewable energy source and is currently one of the most competitive sources of electricity generation.
As the windiest country in Europe, we are ideally placed to generate renewable electricity from wind. As of 2019, there are currently 7,753 onshore and 1,932 offshore wind farms in the UK, all of which need to be monitored and maintained by electrical companies.
Technological improvements have raised capacity factors resulting in the reduction of installation costs of wind turbines. As a consequence, the levelized cost of energy of wind is now typically in the same cost range, or lower than that of fossil fuel power generation, making it very appealing. By 2020 wind power will be cheaper than any other type of power generation.
According to a new report from the EU-funded UpWind project, it is much easier to standardise, transport, install and maintain the multi-rotors wind turbine in comparison to a single rotor wind turbine with the same capacity. Furthermore, multi-rotors wind turbine also has advantages of 37% weight reduction and 25% cost reduction compared with a single rotor wind turbine of equivalent size. This result is promising in the goal to improve multi-rotors wind turbine technologies further.
Wind power has economic benefits in creating thousands of wind farm jobs and with the companies which manufacture the turbines. With all the investment in wind power over recent years, the number of wind power job opportunities has increased in order to manage, construct and maintain wind farms and wind power infrastructure, with roles such as wind turbine technicians, engineers, designers, analysts and project managers, all of which electrical contractors could diversify their skill sets.
Bringing it All Together
The electrical industry will play an important role in transforming our currently carbon-based world into one which is clean, sustainable and efficient to address environmental issues both now and in the future.
Electrical companies will need to analyse their business practices and services against the opportunities of the green revolution in areas such as advancing technology and changing consumer trends. It will require investment, commitment and the resilience to keep up with developing technologies. However, electrical companies are known for loving a challenge – so will be leading at the forefront of this!