One of the entertaining aspects of Periscope is that, very unlike Twitter, you make contact with people who randomly choose your live stream and watch for a bit.
These people can be from anywhere on the globe, they are watching at different times of the day and, as I have discovered not surprisingly they have no idea who this old bloke is who’s waffling away and why so many people are asking him questions.
I get asked ‘who are you?’ and I’m told ‘you’re old!’ or ‘you’re ugly’ or most amusingly the other day ‘you’ve got bad teeth.’
Thankfully I’m thick skinned enough not be offended, in fact I’m highly amused by such accurate observations.
However today I did a Periscope session from the motorway services on the M40 just outside Oxford while my car was charging.
I got asked so many questions about the car, the charging system which was not surprising because I had titled my session ‘A short waffle while I charge my car.’
What that could mean to a 16 year old from Arkansas who might be sitting in a hot attic room in mid morning America is anyone’s guess, I don’t imagine ‘waffle’ means anything other than a pressed dough product covered in corn syrup and whipped cream.
Anyway, I thought it only polite to explain about charging electric cars in as basic terms as I can.
I drive a Nissan Leaf, this is a pure electric car, it doesn’t have an engine, i.e. it’s not a hybrid or plug in hybrid, it only uses electricity.
I normally charge it at home using a dedicated socket I had installed 4 years ago, this is fed (during daylight) by a 2.6 kilowatt array of solar panels, which, on a sunny day produce around 24 kilowatt hours of electricity. That’s more than enough to fill the battery on the Nissan Leaf.
However in the last two days I have driven 304 miles with the electricity mostly coming from public charge points around the country.
On Wednesday I drove to Hay on Wye, a distance of 67 miles from my home. While I was there I used a 32 amp charger at a wonderful bed and breakfast guest house called Westview, this was installed by a charity that fits the sockets and the owners don’t charge for the power if you stay with them.
I’ve stayed with them in the past and they very kindly let me charge while I attended the festival to take part in a discussion panel about the general public attitude to renewable energy.
When I got back to the car it was full and I drove home.
Today I drove from my home in Gloucestershire to a meeting in Denham, just outside London.
I stopped about half way there and used a rapid charger that had been installed by a company called Ecotricity.
They are a renewable energy company in the UK, they have installed hundreds of these chargers at what we call motorway services or highway rest stops.
I charge the car for about 20 minutes and that gives me about 70 miles range.
Ecotricity don’t charge for the use of this service, you do need a card to use it but there is no charge for the card.
They produce a great deal of electricity from wind turbines and solar panels and are currently not demanding payment drivers to use the system. I am confident they will charge eventually.
I had charged the car the day before I left for Hay on Wye using power from the solar panels.
I have a meter on the wall that tells me how much power is used.
The panels produced 19.4 kilowatt hours, the car consumed just over 8 kilowatt hours. The Nissan Leaf has a 24 kilowatt hour battery but when I plugged it in, it wasn’t empty.
I didn’t pay to charge during the day while I was taking part in the discussion at Hay festival.
I came home and charged again overnight.
I plug the car in but the timer built into the car only starts charging after midnight when I pay 5 pence per kilowatt hour on a night time tariff.
I used 14.1 kilowatt hours to fill the battery.
That cost me 70 pence.
Today I used 3 rapid chargers to complete my journey, all free, one of those was while I attended a meeting, so yes, I had to wait for 20 minutes two times, one of those times was when I was Periscoping and being asked if I was famous.
To sum up, I drove 304.9 miles for a total fuel cost of 70 pence.
I agree this is absurd, financially unsustainable and temporary, however it is possible at the moment.
But even if I had to pay the current daytime average amount for all the power I used, about 73 kilowatt hours, it would still only have cost £13.87, still, considerably less than any petrol or diesel car.