Today is the 5th anniversary of my blog, and, in common with may of my readers, the past year has presented significant and unexpected challenges. And in common with a great many people, I suffered health problems last year for which I was unable to get treatment, which threw a large spanner into my business. Thankfully now, things are now getting back to normal, and I hope this is also the case for my colleagues, clients and regular readers.
I started this blog 5 years ago as a means of keeping my eye in while taking time off from paid employment to find the right combination of medications and therapies to manage my fibromyalgia symptoms – when I was diagnosed I was prescribed a range of medications whose side-effects were extremely debilitating, and not conducive to either working or commuting.
Over the next few months I worked out a reasonable balance which kept my symptoms and the side-effects of the medication manageable – and it is a balance: too much pain relief makes me foggy but not enough means the pain enters a negative feedback loop due to stress. Anyway, within the six months I had allowed myself for this process, I started to get approaches to do consulting work, and so my business grew from there.
But as the first lockdown started last year, I was experiencing my worst ever fibro-flare-up (and had also been diagnosed with small fibre neuropathy), and at the same time the clinic I attend for treatments to help me cope with my symptoms was forced to close.
My neurologist prescribed me a new medication and again I was knocked sideways by the side-effects, and although I stopped the medication after a few weeks it took months to recover. Luckily my wonderful doctor and his colleagues at the London Healthcare Clinic were able to re-open after 6 weeks and I was able to re-start my treatments (and we discussed the possibility of me self-administering my treatment should another lockdown force another closure, which thankfully didn’t happen as putting in my own IV does not appeal!)
Just as I was getting back on a even keel my husband lost his job, so it’s safe to say that I was very pleased to see the back of 2020.
However, despite everything, the year wasn’t a complete write-off. I was able to carry out a few small projects, and in between I started developing some new content for my website and my business, which I had hoped to launch today – Watt-Logic Training. Sadly in final testing I discovered some issues when the content is viewed in different browsers, so a bit more de-bugging is needed. I’m now targeting a launch next week.
It’s taken much longer than I hoped to get this off the ground – I have created all of my own content, producing animations by hand and editing videos I found online (which I hope are all free from copyright – I know from first hand experience how annoying it is when people help themselves to your work…I attended a seminar a couple of years ago only to see some of my own content up on screen with no attributions! I was not impressed!)
“And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected,”
– Spike Milligan
Anyway, as I’m sure everyone else who has explored the use of new digital media has found over the past year, it’s very time consuming. Small vocal trips which go un-noticed in conversation jar on a recording, and then there was the ever present danger of the doorbell ringing or a cat miaowing for attention, and while the cats showing up in video calls can be cute, it really isn’t in a training film you want people to pay to watch!
So it’s taken much longer that I hoped, but I’m really proud of the content. The first course is a free introduction to electricity markets which walks through all of the important milestones in the discoveries and inventions which have led us to our current electricity market, right from ancient Egypt.
The term “electricity” was first mentioned in print by Sir Thomas Browne in his 1646 book “Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Or, Enquiries into Commonly Presumed Truths” in which he describes the attraction of different bodies due to static electricity.
Or not…he lists a number of substances which do not exhibit these properties, including opium, and the intriguingly named “Sanguis Draconis”. Sadly he doesn’t elaborate on where he found this curious substance! The book is still in print, and an interesting if sometimes obscure read.
One of the things I love about energy markets is the way that the physical drives the economic in a way that is unique – the fundamental physical properties of electricity determine the way in which the electricity system operates – balancing supply and demand is a physical imperative and not just an economic preference.
“The alternating current will kill people, of course. So will gunpowder, and dynamite, and whisky, and lots of other things; but we have a system whereby the deadly electricity of the alternating current can do no harm unless a man is fool enough to swallow a whole dynamo,”
– George Westinghouse
I particularly enjoyed researching the developments of the late 19th century and the shenanigans between Edison and Tesla in the so-called “Battle of the Currents” – it’s interesting to note that a re-run today might achieve a different outcome with the decline of synchronous dispatchable generation on the system.
I hope you enjoy the course as much as I enjoyed creating it (although I’m liking the WordPress de-bugging an awful lot less!). I will be following it up shortly with a seminar on electricity trading, and then afterwards there will be specialised courses taking a deep dive into specific topics such as investing in batteries.
And I’m hopeful that by the time I come to write my 6th anniversary blog, covid-related horribleness will be well and truly behind us all.
Congratulations on the anniversary, your posts always provide an insightful take on the energy industry and are especially useful at deconstructing the complexity around regulatory and legislative issues. The pandemic has been extraordinary for so many reasons, and also difficult in ways we could never imagine. I am sorry to hear that your condition worsened during the year, but I am also impressed by your ability to work through that and create the new training content for the site – I wish you every success with that new part of your venture. I’m also intrigued to find out what Dragon’s Blood was – perhaps it could be another quack remedy for COVID!! Anyway, here’s to another 5 years and as they say quod me non necat fortiorem facit!
Thanks for your message, Andy!
Perhaps the Dragons Blood mixed with opium would do the trick (for most things, not just covid)!
The book is interesting – the author is opininated to say the least. The entire first section deals with common reasons for errors including “Obsinate Adherence to Authority” and “Credulity and Supinity” which have both been in evidence over the past year!
It also gives a fascinating insight into common misconceptions in the 17th century…I had no idea that people thought elephants had no joints or that they couldn’t lie down so went to sleep leaning against a tree, and that elephant hunters would chop down the tree so the elephant would fall over and be unable to get up! Sir Thomas is not impressed: “Now herein methinks men much forget themselves, not well considering the absurdity of such assertions.” I’m sure he would have had some robust opinions on our energy policy!
You’re welcome Kathryn. I’ll bet that book was not something you ever thought you would be quoting on your blog – it sounds more JK Rowling territory than the prosaic world of energy policy.
That’s the beauty of running your own blog…you can write what you want and quote whom you want 🙂
Hi Kathryn….. So sorry to learn of your personal “annus horibilis” further compounded by Corvid.
I spent 40 years in the power industry prior to retirement in 2001.
Watt-Logic is my life line, providing a window on the energy industry, & accurate point of reference.
Venturing into the retirement world bearing the title “Retired Engineer” provides the opportunity to inform to those who care to listen the significance of our profession.
I embrace the task to correct all the mis-information & total lack of understanding of the energy industry that’s out there.
Thanks to Watt-Logic I’m able to cut across all the media hype with meaningful dialogue; thanks to you.
I’m sure the new venture will prove a success but wish you “Ad Meliora” in the journey.
Barry Wright, Lancashire.
Hi Barry – Thanks for your kind message, and good wishes – it’s always nice to get good feedback on the blog!
You must have worked through a lot of the changes I’ve written about in my my seminars…I’ve just been looking at the post-war years to the introduction of NETA, and some of the philosophies of the market (/not market) were really interesting….I think it’s worthwhile to look at how the market has evolved to see why it is the way it is now.
One of the themes I’ve been thinking about (probably will crop up in a blog post soon) is about the balance between local and not-local in the system. In the early days of electricity markets there were hundreds of suppliers operating small local systems operating at different voltages and frequencies. That was clearly unsustainable, and by WWII there was a single electricity system but still hundreds of generators and suppliers. After the war everything was nationalised and centralised until privatisation and un-bundling in the 1990s, but now we’re going through a period of de-centralisation. I attended a conference last week (online) where one speaker commented that he thought supply and demand decisions should be made locally…I can see why he would say that, but it has limits because the bulk of supply will never be local (eg offshore wind, nuclear and interconnectors). I think it’s an interesting question though and one worth expaning on….
HHi Kathryn. Although I have only just found you (from a comment elsewhere), following what I have read, may I echo Barry Wright’s comments on your task of correcting all the mis-information and lack of understanding and putting us in a position to cut across all the media hype with meaningful dialogue.
Hi Mike – welcome to the conversation, and thanks for the feedback. I’d be interested to know where you heard about me…I know of a couple of places I get mentioned from time to time, so I’m interested to know if it was one of those or somewhere else…
Hi Kathryn……. re evolvement of the grid/supergrid through the 1970/80/90’s from a 132kv post wartime network to the present day 400kv supergrid.
Very much my period with the CEGB, latterly National Grid.
I started 1966 at Preston District which covered an area stretching from the coastal town of Southport in the south to the heritage city of Lancaster to the north taking in Wigan to the east. At retirement 2001 I left Pennine Area consisting of Birmingham in the south to the scottish border in the north taking in North Wales/Anglesey & the Liverpool Manchester conurbations. The pennine range formed the boundary to the east. This enlarged part of the network was administered from Preston at that time. I trust this gives you some idea of the overall geographical change that occurred during my working career as an electrical engineer in a variety of disciplines.
I carry cherished memories of the time’s & changes as I saw things. However not sure that a wordy, part autobiographical posting including a few anecdotes, would be suitable for this forum.
Soft narrative is not my forte but you may have a different view……..Best regards……Barry.
Hi Barry – very interesting. I’m from the NW originally, so you would have the covered my hometown! Autobiographical comments about the history of the markets are always welcome here!