All articles by Heidi Vella

Heidi Vella

Inside the Caribbean’s only nuclear reactor

Jamaica operates the Caribbean’s only nuclear reactor as part of a research project at the University of West Indies (UWI). On a recent visit, the International Atomic Energy Agency
applauded the nearly 35-year-old programme for showing a continuous commitment to safety after a successful conversion to low-enriched uranium.

Restoring hydropower in remote regions of Tajikistan

Pamir Energy, the first ever public-private partnership in Tajikistan, was honoured at the 2017 Ashden Awards for restoring Soviet-era hydro plants in order to bring electricity to the 254,000 people living in the most remote areas of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. As the company looks to expand into Pakistan, general director, Daler Jumaev, discusses the unusual challenges overcome to make the project both a technical and financial success.

Sorting out South Australia’s energy woes

South Australia has been plagued by blackouts and the government is now taking some unusual measures to provide energy security in the wind and gas power-reliant region, including offering AUD150m to encourage the development of 100MW of battery storage and directly investing in a combined cycle gas turbine. But why does a widely celebrated renewables programme still require so much investment?

What’s driving the fall in UK energy demand and can it last?

Total energy consumption in the UK has fallen over the last decade and is now comparable to that of the 1970s. In part, this can be attributed to more efficient technologies and a decline in heavy manufacturing, but that isn’t the whole story. Heidi Vella speaks to industry experts to find out what’s behind the drop and whether it can be sustained.

Are public attitudes to nuclear power still holding it back?

A new Lloyd’s Register report into low-carbon energy concludes that nuclear power is clean, affordable in the long term and reliable, but that challenges remain around public acceptance – but not everyone agrees. Heidi Vella spoke to US and UK-based experts to find out if public opinion is a major factor in prohibiting new nuclear capacity.

Will Australia ever give up on coal power?

Australia is highly dependent on cheap coal for electricity but the country urgently needs to reduce its CO2 emissions in accordance with targets set in the Paris COP21 deal. To meet its commitments the government is looking to deploy large-scale ‘clean coal’ power plants – but is it enough and why isn’t the country ready to ditch coal altogether?

Building the UK’s electric vehicle infrastructure with POD Point

Ten years ago the notion that electric vehicles (EV) could significantly disrupt the conventional diesel-fuel monopoly of the car market seemed like a pipedream – but that dream is coming close to a reality. Erik Fairbairn, the Founder of UK electric vehicle (EV) charging company POD Point, which recently crowdfunded £9m on Crowd Cube, explains why EVs are about to become the new normal.

Cuba is open for business: but can its energy infrastructure withstand the pressure?

Cuba’s Government is looking to spur an energy revolution to refurbish much of its 100-year-old energy infrastructure, as well as ensure future energy security. Without considerable foreign investment, Cuba’s energy infrastructure could face serious challenges as it struggles to keep up with an influx of new American tourism and international trade. But where will Cuba find the necessary investment?

Putting customers first: how can energy companies provide better customer service?

Citizens Advice’s latest energy complaints league table has noted the widest gap between the top and the bottom of the rankings when it comes to dealing with customer complaints, with the lowest-ranked company, Extra Energy, performing 80 times worse than SSE at the top of the league. The gap may be widening but the problem is nothing new. Energy companies are routinely criticised for their handling of customer complaints, so why are they getting it wrong and how can they do better? The Institute of Customer Service and Citizens Advice provide some insight.

Under the skin of Tesla’s Gigafactory

Two years ahead of schedule Tesla has opened its $5bn lithium-ion Gigafactory, a monumental structure split into two parts; one side housing Panasonic that will build batteries and the that other will assemble them into battery packs. While not expected to enter into full production until 2018, the factory is expected to revolutionise the lithium battery market – but can it succeed? The experts think so.