Tech Tip – Optimise Power Plans For Your Battery Life

Windows allows users to customise or switch between different power plans based on their current needs, balancing performance with energy consumption. This is especially useful for laptop users who may need to maximise battery life or require full performance during intensive tasks. Here’s how works:

– Right-click on the battery icon in the taskbar and select Power Options, or search for “Edit Power Plan” in the Start menu.

– Here, you can switch between pre-defined plans such as Balanced, Power saver, or High performance.

– Customise these plans or create your own by modifying settings like screen brightness, sleep timers, and processor power management.

Sustainability-in-Tech : New £4 Billion EV Battery Factory in Somerset

Tata Group’s global battery business ‘Agratas’ has confirmed previous announcements that it will invest £4bn in a brownfield site near Bridgwater in Somerset to make it the UK’s biggest electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing facility.

Somerset To Be Centre Of UK’s Green Energy Revolution

Somerset Council has reported that the Agratas factory should create up to 4,000 jobs and many more as part of the supply chain and will, “put Somerset at the centre of the UK’s green energy revolution with the potential to kick-start countywide and regional economic growth and jobs”. 

The Leader of Somerset Council described the Agratas EV battery factory plans, which could see Somerset become the UK’s biggest producer of electric vehicle (EV) batteries, as “momentous and of global significance”. 

The EV factory will be built on the old Royal Ordnance Factory site, once a major employer in the area until its decommissioning in 2008. It’s been reported that the Agratas factory will be smaller, taking only 50 per cent of the land but should, by the early 2030s (production will begin in 2026), have the capacity to produce 40GWh of battery cells annually – half the EV battery manufacturing capacity for the UK’s automotive sector (enough batteries for 500,000 passenger vehicles). It’s understood that JLR and (not surprisingly) Agratas will be the first customers for the batteries.

Residents 

Agratas says it’s informing the thousands of residents around Puriton of its plans via a leaflet through the door, provision of a community WhatsApp channel for progress updates, and an introductory event in the coming weeks.

Agratas – Clean And Green Operations 

Agratas says the “world-class gigafactories” it’s building in India and now the UK unlock green growth opportunities for global customers, that it has a “sustainability-first approach” and that its operations are “accelerating the global transition to net zero.”  

Agratas points out that it’s not just the contribution of the product that will help with the climate crisis. It’s also keen to highlight how its factories (like the one to be built in Puriton, Somerset) are designed to be powered by clean sources of electricity and should include a purpose-built renewable energy plant, thereby supporting its goal of 100 per cent clean power across all its operations. In terms of a nearby (renewable) energy plant, it’s worth noting that the Somerset factory site is only 15 miles from Hinkley point nuclear power station.

Challenges 

In addition to other challenges, The United Kingdom’s ambition to be a leader in the electric vehicle (EV) market has been somewhat hampered by its lack of domestic battery manufacturing facilities (known as gigafactories). This gap has posed significant challenges and implications for the UK’s automotive industry and its transition to electric mobility, e.g. supply chain vulnerability, competitiveness and investment attraction, job creation and economic growth, meeting its environmental targets, and more.

The confirmation that a major EV battery gigafactory will be sited here has, therefore, been greeted enthusiastically by the UK government and those involved in the EV industry.

What Does This Mean For Your Organisation? 

Building an EV battery gigafactory in Somerset in the UK is likely to bring many important benefits. These include countrywide and regional economic growth and jobs – 4,000 new high-skilled green tech jobs. Also, the fact that Agratas will work with local and regional partners (e.g. Somerset Council, Bridgwater and Taunton College, and the wider Gravity Smart Campus) will mean bespoke education and training programmes with the promise of high-value local jobs for local people in the future. Also, the UK’s ambition to be a major player in the EV market will be well-served by having a battery factory here, and this will boost EV production in the UK, attract manufacturers and investment, and boost the economy.

On the green and sustainability front, the fact that Agratas has a sustainability-first approach and plans to use clean sources of electricity are clearly likely to be attractive. For residents in the Bridgwater area, which also has the first in a new generation of nuclear power stations (Hinkley Point C) being built just a few miles down the road, the EV battery site will contribute even more to the massive boost that the local economy has received in recent years.

All that said, for many people in the UK, there is still the downward pressure of a cost-of-living crisis taking priority over decisions to purchase expensive electric vehicles that don’t yet have anything more than what many would describe as a barely adequate charging network in place. Also, despite the EV factory’s sustainability and environmental focus, it should be remembered that there is still an environmental cost being paid in the mining, production, and transportation of materials including lithium, cobalt, and nickel for EV batteries, not to mention the scarcity of such materials.

Sustainability-in-Tech : The Battery ‘Domino’ Effect That Could Help Us Hit Climate Goals

A report by the Rocky Mountain Institute highlights how a domino effect of surging battery demand could put global climate goals within reach by enabling a 22 Gigatons per year reduction in CO2 emission.

The Surge in Battery Demand – A Domino Effect

The report suggests that the world is witnessing a shift in energy dynamics due to the exponential growth in battery demand, due to a phenomenon driven by what it describes as a “domino effect” that will cascade from country to country and sector to sector.

The report highlights how this unprecedented battery demand isn’t just a trend and could be a critical enabler in significantly contributing to the abatement of transport and power emissions and (hopefully) the phaseout of half of the global fossil fuel demand. The assertion is that this domino effect of battery demand could be the thing that sets the world on a clear trajectory towards achieving over 60 per cent of the necessary milestones for a zero-carbon energy system.

The S-Curve of Battery Growth

The Rocky Mountain Institute report highlights how, central to understanding this shift, is the S-curve pattern of battery demand. Imagining an ‘S’ (on its side a as a graph illustrating the growth of battery demand), the curve begins slowly, accelerates sharply, then levels off. The report explains that this is because:

– Battery sales have been doubling every two to three years and by 2030, sales are expected to increase by six to eight times, potentially reaching 5.5-8 TWh (terawatt-hours) per year.

– The costs of making each battery will decrease as production increases – for every doubling of production, costs are projected to fall by 19 to 29 per cent.

– As well as cost reduction, battery quality will improve. For example, battery energy density (power stored for their size) is expected to increase by 7 to 18 per cent each time production doubles. By 2030, therefore, top batteries may store as much as 600-800 Wh/kg (watt-hours per kilogram).

– The report highlights that the above effects could mean that by 2030, battery cell costs may have fallen to $32-54 per kWh, making them much more affordable and efficient.

The “Domino Effect” (Across Sectors and Geographies) 

The domino effect of battery demand and usage that the report talks about refers to how once new battery technology is successful, it jumps sectors as well as geographies. For example, initially rooted in consumer electronics, battery technology then expanded into motorbikes, buses, and cars. Its current trajectory is towards stationary electricity storage, road haulage, and eventually, short-haul ships and planes by 2030. Geographically, the effect mirrors this sectoral spread. For example, after gaining momentum in early adopter nations, battery technology is now being rapidly adopted in major markets like China, Europe, the United States, Southeast Asia, and India.

The Largest Clean Tech Market Emerges 

This explosive growth in battery demand has catalysed the most significant capacity ramp-up since World War II. The race to the top has led to the construction of 400 ‘gigafactories’, capable of producing 9 TWh of batteries annually by 2030!

This development has propelled the battery market to become the largest clean tech market, surpassing combined investments in solar and wind power.

Impact on Fossil Fuel Demand and Climate Goals 

If the figures highlighted in the report come to fruition, the implications for fossil fuel demand are, of course, likely to be profound. It could mean, for example, that batteries are poised to replace significant portions of fossil fuel demand in electricity (175 EJ) and road transport (86 EJ), while also challenging the remaining demand in shipping and aviation (23 EJ). If this shift occurs at this scale, it could be pivotal in reducing global emissions by 22 Gigatons of CO2 per year, thereby representing a significant leap towards meeting global energy-related emissions targets.

Challenges and Opportunities Ahead 

Despite the promise highlighted in the report, challenges remain. Stressed supply chains and the need for sustainable raw material sourcing are likely to be critical concerns. Also, building the infrastructure for a battery-dominated energy system looks like it’s a monumental task that will require consistent innovation and investment. That said, the ongoing efforts of companies, governments, researchers, and climate advocates, plus the fact that serious progress has to be made in reducing global CO2 emissions (to keep below 1.5°C of warming) are likely to mean that these challenges could be overcome.

It’s Not All Positive 

Some of the other major challenges caused by a huge surge in demand for (and production) that the report doesn’t talk much about include :

– The environmental damage from mining. Extracting raw materials like lithium and cobalt can cause habitat destruction, water pollution, and soil erosion.

– Supply chain risks. For example, although the report sees a domino effect of battery adoption across many countries, there is still likely to be a reliance on a few countries for critical materials which raises geopolitical and supply chain concerns, particularly with materials sourced under conditions of environmental or social harm.

– The considerable carbon footprint of battery manufacturing. Battery production is energy-intensive and, if powered by fossil fuels, contributes to carbon emissions.

– Massive recycling and waste management issues. Disposing of (and recycling) rapidly increasing numbers of batteries could pose environmental and health risks due to toxic materials. Current recycling rates are low, and processes can be costly.

– The scarcity of resources. Increased demand for materials like lithium and cobalt could lead to scarcity and higher prices.

– The social and economic impacts of shifts in job markets, particularly in regions dependent on fossil fuel industries, will require new skills and training.

– Transportation hazards from moving large quantities of batteries, e.g. fire and chemical spill hazards.

– Market oversaturation risks. Overproduction could lead to economic challenges in the battery industry.

Mitigation efforts will, therefore, need to include sustainable mining, improved recycling, responsible supply chain management, and development of less environmentally impactful battery technologies – something which is still very much in the research stage.

What Does This Mean For Your Organisation? 

The battery revolution outlined in the report could have significant and broad implications for all kinds of businesses and other organisations. This shift presents a unique opportunity for businesses to be at the forefront of a sustainable future. Adopting battery technology could lead to a significant reduction in carbon footprints, offering a pathway to meet environmental goals and adhere to increasingly stringent regulations. Beyond compliance, it may also open avenues for innovation in product development, energy management, and operational efficiency.

This rapidly evolving energy landscape, however, will require organisations to reassess their supply chain strategies and the surge in battery demand implies a need for more robust and sustainable supply networks. Businesses will, therefore, need to ensure a stable supply of materials, potentially reconfiguring sourcing and manufacturing processes to accommodate the growing battery market. This could involve forming new partnerships and investing in technologies that align with the shift towards renewable energy sources.

Also, companies may need to invest in (or partner with) entities for charging infrastructure and energy storage solutions. This investment may not be just a cost but an opportunity to be part of an emerging market that is set to outpace traditional energy sectors.

For organisations in the energy sector, we appear to be at a pivotal moment to move towards clean technologies. The battery market, now overshadowing solar and wind investments, presents new opportunities for growth and innovation. Energy companies could leverage their expertise and resources to lead in battery technology and storage solutions, carving out a significant role in the new energy ecosystem.

This transition to batteries will also bring challenges for workforce skills and knowledge. Organisations will need to invest in training and development to equip their workforce with the necessary skills to navigate the changing technological landscape. This will include an understanding of battery technologies, renewable energy systems, and the accompanying intricacies of new regulatory and market environments.

The change, of course, isn’t likely to be confined to the energy sector alone. Industries like automotive (already with EVs), transportation, and manufacturing are directly impacted and will need to adapt their business models. This might involve transitioning fleets to electric vehicles, rethinking logistics based on battery storage capacities, or redesigning products to be more energy efficient.

Organisations will also have a role to play in shaping policy and public opinion. Collaborative efforts with governments, research institutions, and environmental groups could help in advocating for favourable policies, incentivising renewable energy adoption, and educating the public about the benefits of this transition.

The battery revolution suggested in this report isn’t just a shift in energy preference but a comprehensive change in how businesses will need to operate, innovate, and grow. Being part of a sustainable future will require proactive adaptation, strategic planning, and collaborative efforts. Organisations that embrace this change will not only contribute to a greener planet but also position themselves competitively in a world increasingly driven by clean technology.

Tech Tip – Force Your Android Screen To Be Bright – Even When You’ve a Low battery

If you’ve less than a minimum threshold of battery life left, Android Phones typically automatically dim the screen (making it almost unreadable) sometimes when you need to be able to read it the most! If you want to force it to be bright (even at the expense of rapidly draining the last of the battery-life) here’s how:

Open Settings: This is usually represented by a gear icon on your home screen or in your app drawer.

Navigate to Display: This is where you’ll find all the settings related to your screen, including brightness.

Adjust Brightness Level: There should be a slider that allows you to manually adjust the brightness of your screen. Slide it all the way to the right to maximize brightness.

Disable Adaptive (or Auto) Brightness: This setting automatically adjusts your screen brightness based on the ambient light. You’ll want to turn this off to maintain a constant brightness level.

Battery Saver Mode: Go back to the main settings menu and find “Battery” or “Power”. If your phone has a battery saver mode that’s turned on, it might be reducing your screen brightness to save power. You can usually adjust the settings of this mode, or turn it off entirely, to prevent it from dimming your screen.

Please note that keeping your screen brightness at maximum will drain your battery more quickly, which could be a problem if your battery is already low. Also, these instructions might vary slightly depending on the make and model of your Android phone, as different manufacturers sometimes use different names for these settings or organize them differently.

In an emergency, it’s also worth considering other ways to conserve battery life, such as closing unnecessary apps, turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and disabling background data for apps.