Amalie Henden

Tesla to build world’s largest battery

World’s largest battery in 80 days

Tesla is teaming up with French energy company Neoen to build the world’s largest battery within 80 days in South Australia.

The state has been struggling with energy problems, and in an attempt to stabilise the energy Tesla has made a deal to pay A$50m if they fail to deliver the project on time. The grid-scale battery storage could help to even out price spikes, prevent blackouts and improve reliability across the network.

At a conference in Adelaide, Australia Tesla CEO, Elon Musk said the battery will be more than three times the size of the current record holder. It is a lithium ion battery and will be 100 megawatts, compared to the next largest battery, which is 30 megawatts. Tesla estimates the battery could power 30,000 homes. The 129MWh battery, which is paired with a wind farm, is designed to improve the security of electricity supplies across South Australia.

Musk told reporters in Adelaide this month he is confident in the techniques and design of the system, although it will be challenging: “There is certainly some risk, because this will be the largest battery installation in the world by a significant margin. When you make something three times as big, does it still work as well?”.

In March Musk made his pledge on Twitter the he could deliver the battery within 100 days of signing the contract or it would be delivered free. Jay Weatherill, the South Australia state’s premier, confirmed the deal, which now is a part of the government’s A$550m energy plan.

“I’m thrilled with the selection of Neoen and Tesla, whose experience and world leadership in energy security and renewables will help South Australia take charge of its energy future,” Weatherill said.

On a related theme, read about the South Africa Power Crisis here.

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Luxurious cabins threatens the environment

Remote Cabins Threaten Norwegian Wildlife

Norwegians love to unplug once in a while — disappear from civilisation into their remote cabins. Being in contact with the nature is one of the most valued factors for people with cabins. They enjoy the cumbersome, rural life without any power, water or toilets. Or so they claim. In the last years cabins have gotten bigger and with more facilities, and it is starting to affect the environment and the wildlife in the Norwegian forest.

Cabins a disturbing factor
According to the Institute of Natural Research (NINA) report on “Conflicts and Sustainability around Second Home Development”, the mountain huts can give an unnatural high access to food to small game such as red foxes. This gives red foxes access to bigger areas which threatens different species, like the arctic fox.

Much of the cabin construction takes place in areas that are particularly important for wildlife such as migratory roads, winter habitats or calving areas. These are areas where the animals are particularly vulnerable, according to

The research shows that development interferes more than previously thought. For example reindeers are located kilometers away from their permanent infrastructure. This means that large mountain areas in practice are not available as habitats anymore. When removing cabins and trails, the reindeer seems to quickly reuse the areas, says Senior Researcher Bjørn Kaltenbor who conducted the interdisciplinary project.

Not enough focus on environmental awareness

The degree of environmental awareness people have for their cabin life is not particularly high. On the other hand, the attitudes towards new developers are overall negative.

Kalterborn told ”The vast majority of cottage owners are negative towards major future changes in the cottage areas, such as infrastructure development and depreciation”.

Cabins are today one of the largest economic sectors in the rural municipalities in Norway. In many of the municipalities, construction is considered a rescue plan in relation to failing agriculture and relocation. Unfortunately, according to Kalterborn´s research, the majority of the municipalities in the Southern Norway region have insufficient capacity and lack of competence and overview to keep up with developments in the sector.

“This can create major conflicts for the government in the future if they have to return lost habitat for important species such as wild boar”, Kalternborn warns.

Want to capture wild animals on camera? See: Trail Cameras for hunters or animal lovers.

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In Norway hiking is a big part of the everyday life.

Unlocked: Traditional Norwegian Free Huts

From ancient times, simple households and traditional huts located in rural Norway was kept unlocked, so people could seek shelter in case of bad weather. Statskog wants to keep this tradition alive.

Provides over 100 huts
If you are happy with sleeping on a “brisk” – a wooden bench, going to the toilet outdoors and drinking water from the creek, this is perfect for you. Statskog provides over 100 arches and “koier” – tiny, traditional huts around the Northern-European country.

“They can be a destination goal for a break or act as a shelter for wind and weather. There are also a few wooden benches if you want to rest or stay overnight,” Nils Aal, head of outdoor activities in Statskog says.

Simplicity is key
The cabins have an oven, but not water and electricity. It is not a matter of luxury, but four walls and roof over your head over a few square meters. Most of the huts was used as shelters for loggers and people working with timber floats in earlier days. Others were built as hunting and fishing booths or are set up in recent years as tourist destinations.

Many of Statskog´s huts are old and contains a lot of history about Norwegian forestry and farming. Everyone is welcome to use the households for a short stay, but it is expected that you will make an effort to leave it in the same condition as you found it. A good rule is to bring in dry wood and take the trash with you when you leave.

Open for everyone
No booking is possible and no membership is required, but you should have a Plan B (like a tent) in case the huts are full. You also need to bring your own sleeping bag, and of course food.

Another way off staying off-grid for free is in a camper van.

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Nate has plenty of room in his camper van.

Camper Van Featured in UK Tabloid

The Sun is featuring Nate Murphy, a Brit who decided to turn his white van into an RV in just 17 days to travel the world. These kind off adventures have gotten very popular over the years and this featuring in Britain´s most -read newspaper is a sign that more people would like to live an off-grid life!

“I did an interview for a media organisation that sold my interview. It was really cool that The Sun wanted to write about my van”, Murphy tells.

A world adventure
Nate is a professional rock climber and uses the camper van to travel between climbing destinations around the world. The camper van has been turned into a fully functional leisure vehicle, with sleeping room for two, seating space, running water, LPG Central heating and electricity from a 300 watt solar panel.

“It is designed so I do not have to plug in anywhere. It is a very comfortable way if living as I do not rely on anything else than the van”.

The rock climber says the biggest challenge in the process of building the van is that if you are going to do it quickly, you have to make sure you have everything delivered at the right time.

“I worked 15 hours every day and I would say the whole process took me about 250 hours work,” he tells.

Living on a shoestring
Nate´s nomadic life style has taken him to some of the most expensive cities in Europe, where he avoids accommodation costs, saving a fortune in hotel bills.

He has lived out of the van for a year and travelled through Europe, Asia and the United States, where he just returned from.

His plan for the summer is to sell the van if he can get a reasonable price for it. With the money he wants to build a new van.

“I really enjoyed the process of designing and building the van, so I would not mind doing it again”.

So far Nate has not made any big plans for the summer yet, but is looking into doing rock climbing in Norway. Initially the plan was to spend up to three years in his van, but the climber has realised he enjoys the lifestyle so much that he wants to continue for indefinite time.

Makes money from his Youtube-channel
As well as doing rock climbing and living nomadically Nathan Murphy is a Youtuber with more than 80,000 subscribers. You can see more of his adventure here

Want to go on an off-grid adventure? Check out this farm stay in Central Vietnam!

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Surrounded by jungles and adventures.

Farm stay, Central Vietnam

The couple behind Phong Nha Farm stay in Vietnam shows how you can live off-grid and make good money at the same time. Australian Ben and his wife Le Thi Bich founded the farm stay in 2010, and it is a hidden pearl for off-grid lovers. You find Phong Nha Farmstay miles from civilisation, located between the coast and the mountains in the northern part of Central Vietnam. It is highly recommended if you are passing, but you should hurry – tourists are starting to rush to the area.

The farm stay is described as a “French Colonial style accommodation, set in idyllic surroundings of rice paddy fields on the edge of the famous Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, just off the Ho Chi Minh Trail”.

It is the ideal base for wild adventures, discovering caves or just relaxing in a hammock. They even have free bicycles so you can discover the local village nearby!

An exotic farm stay

The couple´s idea was to start a business in the middle of nowhere, and even though they received a lot of comments from family members and the community such as “you will never see any westerners, you are wasting your money and you time” it has shown to be a huge success!

From housing people in hammocks at their home to personally designing and building the farm stay, they set out to put Phong Nha on the map.

If you want some more information about the farm stay, click here.

If you are interested in reading more about off-grid businesses, check out the Tasmanian Winery who has gone off the grid in terms of electricity.


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Black Hills Energy Cuts Renewables Payout

Last week the South Dakota Public Utilities unanimously approved a 19 per cent reduction in pay for renewables – that is the generation credit rate Black Hills Energy pays to small renewable energy producers. This is a kick in the teeth to all who invested in renweable energy thinking they could forecast the payback time and the hit on their own personal finances.

The generation credit rate will be set to 2.75 cents per kilowatt-hour, from the current rate on 3.32 cents.

The commissionion says it may also wants to set generation credit rates differently for the kinds of fuel used to create it – so coal will get less and solar will get more.s. The decision to base the credits by sources will come no later than 2019.

“Black Hills Energy should broaden its electricity sources. About 90 per cent comes from burning coal”, he says. 

Nelson praises Richard Bell, an engineer and customer of Black Hills Energy, for bringing the concept to the commission. Bell is one of 35 small producers who receive credits on their electricity bills for the electricity they supply to the company.

 Small producers might drop out

However, due to the credit reduction, Bell is worried that small producers will drop out, and explains that many people are going to go off the grid if they are going to be compensated at such a low rate.

The commission voted 3-0 to accept the Rapid City company´s proposal. The reduction will take place on June 1st. 

 Not happy with Black Hills Energy´s deal

Joining Bell at the witness table was Jay Davis, a Rapid City lawyer who has a renewable-energy system on his house and receives generation credits from the company. He invested roughly $11.000 to install the panels and received a 30 per cent federal credit. 

“We wanted to set a good example for the rest of the community, a positive and forward looking example”, he says. 

Davis is not pleased with the deal he is getting from Black Hills Energy at the moment. He explains that he pays 9.98 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity at his house, but gets 3.32 cents credit for the electricity produced by the solar system on his house. Worse, he says, the company charges him $9.25 monthly because he is a customer and another $12.99 per month in cost adjustments. 

Manager sees no reduction of coal in near future

Lisa Seaman, Black Hills Energy´s manager of resource planning says she does not see the company reducing their dependence on coal very much.

 “Not in the near term”, she states. “Right now the utility has enough electricity without the 35 to meet the needs of customers”.

 Nelson sees Seaman´s point, but says the company needs to start taking the small producers into consideration in the future. South Dakota’s voluntary goal by utilities is 10 percent for renewables. Black Hills

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Loving couple lived in a caravan for three years.

Loving Couple Caravan Adventure

Loving couple Stian Berg Larsen and Susanne Madelen Larsen are having a DOUBLE celebration – their new daughter, Aurora Louise is one month old and after they lived off-grid for three years, they do not have to worry about the money anymore. They saved approximately 25.000 pounds by living in their caravan.

“The economic benefits for living off-grid was a huge bonus”, Berg Larsen says.

They both agree that living off-grid was one of the best experience they have ever had. That was, before their daughter was born of course.

It was after the Larsen´s got kicked out of their apartment in the Norwegian city Stavanger they decided to try a different style of living. The prices for buying and renting was rising, which made it difficult to find a place to stay. Susanne´s mum suggested a motel or cabin, but after some creative thinking they decided to purchase a caravan.

For almost three years, the couple lived on Sola Camping site in Southwestern Norway

“Even though we both studied and worked when we lived in the caravan, it gave us a great perspective on ways of living. I do not have anything bad to say about our off-grid adventure”, Berg Larsen says.

The only negative aspect the couple could think of was the cold journey from the outdoor shower back to the van wearing just a towel. Norway can be quite a chilly climate, especially in winter when the temperatures often drops to about -15 degrees.

More than enough space

Although the loving couple lived in a tiny home they had room for a double bed, a kitchen, toilet and a living room. They now live in a house in Stavanger, but before they made their decision to go back to traditional living they took a gap year in Bali, enjoying the warm weather and each others company.

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South Africa goes off-grid

South Africa Power Crisis

The local authorities in Cape Town, South Africa face a power crisis as electricity theft, unpaid bills and switching to renewable energy puts pressure on the electricity companies. Even though the economy and population has grown, the city expects to sell far less electricity than it has since 2006.

Solar electricity panels are appearing on rooftops all over the cities of South Africa, leaving municipalities from Thembelihle in the Northern Cape to Mantsopa in the Eastern Free State in trouble – and it is getting worse.

Leslie Rencontre, Director of Electricity in Cape Town explained the increase in prices to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) last week: “Where you see a decrease in electricity sales, which we are seeing because of high prices and the introduction of renewable energy, the increase in the electricity tariff has to take that into account.”

As new data confirmed last week, municipalities around the country rely heavily on the profit they get from reselling mostly Eskom power to their towns and cities. In Johannesburg about half of the city´s prepaid electricity boxes claim that the households have used no electricity. It is thought that people have stopped paying for electricity due to the higher prices.

– We are facing massive bypassing of meters and sabotaging of meters, Quentin Green, acting Chief Executive of the Johannesburg agency, City Power, told NERSA.

He explains that between the revenue loss of such illegal connections and the need for maintenance, some of it caused by the load from those illegal connections, they cannot sustain the business.

For most local governments, about a third of their revenues come from electricity sales, where the money is put into other vital services such as roads.

As the price of electricity increases, so does the number of people who choose to live off the grid and use solar power to get electricity instead. These small electricity storage solutions are becoming more and more attractive, but this can eat to absurdities.

– One of the key threats we discussed with NERSA  previously is that we were finding higher-end households were able to reduce their electricity consumption and were then accessing subsidies aimed at the indigent, Rencontre said, referring to packages intended to make more electricity accessible for the poorest of the poor.

Cape Town, Johannesburg and a dozen other municipal areas have appeared before NERSA to demand and beg to be allowed to increase the amount they charge residents for electricity. In terms of NERSAs guideline local authorities can increase their prices by about 2 per cent, but must get permission for anything above that. Last week municipalities askes for a hike of more than 20 per cent for business customers.

– We really hope and believe that NERSA will look favourably on this application,” David McThomas, a manager for the Breede Valley district in the Western Cape said.

In …

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