this is bbc news. the headlines: the us health secretary, tom price, has resigned. he'd faced mounting pressure from president trump for using expensive privatejets to travel on government business. the trips are reported to have cost the taxpayer more than $1 million. two other members of the cabinet are under scrutiny for their travel. thousands of catalan separatists have held a final rally ahead of sunday's planned referendum on independence from spain. the head of the regional government, told the crowd he believed catalonia would become a sovereign nation. madrid's trying to block the vote, claiming it's unconstitutional. the us has warned americans not to travel to cuba and pulled half the staff from its embassy in havana after a spate of "sonic attacks." more than 20 people have suffered symptoms, including dizziness and brain trauma. the cause remains a mystery. coming up in 10 minutes‘ time, newswatch — but first on bbc news, click.
the beautiful welsh countryside. home to valleys, lakes, the odd feral goat and... electric mountain. hidden inside this mountain is the dinorwig pumped storage power station and it is basically a monster battery. it stores energy by pumping water from this lake to a lake at the top of the mountain and then letting it flow back downhill, releasing that energy at times of peak demand. when you pop the kettle on during breaks in championship matches of that sport they call football, this bad boy springs into action to supplement our national grid, delivering power to our homes in under 12 seconds. it's an incredible view. it's one of the fastest responding power stations on the planet and we'll have a nosy inside the thing later in the programme. dinorwig offers a semi—renewable
energy solution at a time when our national resources are being used up. as solar, wind and tidal power alternatives advance, we're craving a method of using their generated energy 24/7 despite the weather or time of day and this is where batteries come in. now, this isn't your stereotypical battery. admittedly when i say battery you probably think of the ones in these. these are rechargeable lithium ion batteries. we really can't live without these. lithium ion batteries have truly revolutionised electronics. they power the mobile miracles that we use every day. they have a high—density,, meaning they can store a lot of electricity relative to their small size, so we can easily carry them around and recharge them hundreds of times. inside cells are layers of sheets stacked together, a positive cathode, negative anode, with a separator in between filled with a liquid electrolyte. when a cell is discharged,
the movement of ions from one side to the other facilitates the flow of electrons, which then generates current to power devices. during charging, this process is reversed. whoever came up with this must have been a real genius. my name isjohn bannister goodenough and when i was at oxford when we developed the cathodes that enabled the lithium ion battery that you use in your cell telephones and laptop computers, i didn't really think about whether the battery we were developing would—be a world—famous invention. i've been very pleased to see how it's being developed in the hands of the engineers. it has stood the test of time with electric vehicles today relying on thousands of lithium ion cells for their battery pack modules. the dependence of modern society on fossilfuel energy
is not sustainable. and so one of the things we need to do is find storage of electric power generated by alternative energy sources, and also storage batteries that can power an electric vehicle with a competitive price and performance. certainly sounds like doctor goodenough‘s invention has proved good enough for 37 years, but lithium ion isn't without its problems and that's led some people to look for alternate battery technologies. and this summer the uk government pledged a £250 million into the research and development of battery tech. at the forefront of this research is warwick manufacturing group at the university of warwick. lithium ion batteries do have potential hazards and if you mistreat some of the higher energy chemistries
then yes you'll see a battery fire and potentially a rupture and so on so there's tight innate chemistries, called iron phosphate chemistries, which are a safe option for using public transport so on. as a research centre and a cell manufacturer you can play tunes with the chemistry to basically decide whether safety is your prime goal or your prime criteria or whether performance and energy is. if you look at your periodic table, all the transition metals you see, generally somewhere in the world there is a scientist trying to make a battery out of those. calcium batteries, aluminium batteries, lithium sulphur batteries, sodium ion, there's a range of different sodium ion batteries and so on. there's a whole range of different chemistries being worked on, so although we're working on lithium ion at the moment and we're persevering with lithium ion, there will be more developments in the future as we move onto different types of chemistries. as the uk's leading automotive battery r&d centre, wmg works at the intersection between scientific research and industry with the likes of nissan and jaguar land rover as close collaborators. here's a module we developed and it
represents about a 70—80% improvement on the tesla battery module. that improvement has come about not through changes in the chemistry but changes in the way the module has been constructed. packing the cells tighter together while maintaining safety, improved cooling systems, etc. at the moment cost and range of new evs and the number of charging points available to us is an issue. manufacturers like nissan even offer up a replacement diesel or petrol replacement for customers needing to drive longer distances as part of their promise scheme. as well as batteries, wmg is looking at how our charging behaviour can affect battery life too surprising results. it's made a smart algorithm that shows degradation of a car battery can be reduced by up to 10% over a year if energy is transferred back to the grid.
synonymous with evs is tesla, owner of the world's biggest battery factory. due to hit peak production in 2020, the gigafactory aims to produce enough batteries to power after million new electric cars every year. —— half a million. tesla boss elon musk‘s ambitions go further than revolutionising our cars, though, he wants to rewire our homes too. enter the powerwall, the £6,000 home battery stores energy gathered from solar panels during the day and when the sun goes down sustainably powers your pad. it's very straightforward really, not that complicated. from tesla to ikea, there seems to be a growing trend in companies creating home batteries to harness solar power. so how exactly does this work? tech enthusiastic terence has had solar panels for several years.
more recently connecting them to a home battery, meaning he can use the power he generates and send excess back to the grid. the battery charged up 1.4 kilowatt hours, which it then used throughout the day, so that saved about 15% on energy bills. he's also using it to power his electric vehicle and thanks to the way that feed—in tariffs currently work in the uk, he's being paid for the power he generates even when he uses it. but of course it's early days for the technology. one of the things we're going to see over time is these batteries will become cheaper, smaller and higher capacity. at the moment this battery is two kilowatt—hours, which is great, but it's not quite enough for everything we want to do with it. terence is actually taking part in a community trial taking place in the rose hill area of oxford. while the usual costs for installation of solar panels and a moixa battery would be £5,000, here the cost of batteries
is subsidised and a network has been created meaning power can be economically shared between the 82 homes, a school and a community centre that are taking part. my house generates more power than i can use so why not store it and sell it back to the grid? why not give it to my neighbours when we've got surplus. in this area, where many are living in fuel poverty, the community element of the project seems to be appreciated too. alexa, see how the battery is. battery at i% alexa, see how the battery is. battery at 1% capacity right now. —— 2196. in this area, where many are living in fuel poverty, the community element of the project seems to be appreciated too. and here at this school,
they're also treating it as a learning experience. here in this year 6 classroom you can see the solar panels out of the window and here is the battery that's harnessing the power. now, this power is actually being used for the lighting in this room but the whole setup also teaches the kids how this works. i think it is a really good way of teaching children not to waste electricity. we are very happy that out electricity. we are very happy that our school is powered by solar panels. swedish giant ikea are now selling home batteries too using the same premise of harnessing solar power and that providing electricity consumable by the homeowner, claiming the average uk home could up to £560 a year from their electricity bills. meanwhile british company powerbolt are working on giving older electric vehicle batteries a second life as home batteries.
while after eight to ten years of road use a battery could start to deteriorate, it seems it could still be used in the home where demands are less strenuous, giving it an extra decade of use. after being taken from the vehicles they are checked electorally, graded, reformatted and stacked together to create energy storage systems for the home. of course, as battery costs come down and capability increases, the appeal should too. so whether this idea goes mainstream most likely depends on whether the sun shines over those figures. welcome to the week in tech. that is it from the power station in
north wales. what a privilege to visit such an unusual place. feel free to get in touch was on social media, if you have enough battery, that is. —— in touch with us. hello and welcome to newswatch with me, samira ahmed. as prince harry and meghan markle are filmed holding hands at the invictus games, is the bbc two obsessed with the royal family? as he prepares to leave the bbc, peter hunter looks back for us on the challenges of royal reporting. first, the party conference season is a chance for each political party to set out its ideas and try and dominate the news agenda. this week, it was the turn of the labour party. tonight, labour plans for power. it says it is ready to deal with whatever is thrown at it, even a one on the pound. if there is a run on the pound... the shadow chancellor
was speaking to activists. today the labour leader backed him, saying it is right to be prepared. nick wharton felt that the headline attention was not warranted. last week, we endured complaint about a bbc reporter speaking to camera while others around were calling for silence in the search for survivors of the earthquake in mexico. here's a reminder of the clip that caused that concern. all over the town are also lines of volunteers, people trying to help those who may still be alive. as we spoke, the rescue workers