Developments to Renewables Map

Apart from the data being the most complete and accurate of any of the equivalent resources, Renewables Map is being further developed towards being a one stop shop for all data that is generally available online.

Showing More data

Many of the over 3,000 projects listed within renewables map now have the DECC and for active projects, the OFGEM data shown. This data is of course only available where the corresponding data has been listed by these organisations.  OFGEM is invariably up to date as subsidy payments are dependent on OFGEM being informed. DECC is not so consistent in maintaining its data, don’t blame me if that data is missing.

Address data is being added along with a separate postcode and county entry.

(ongoing) Associated company data is now being applied to all projects showing developer, owner and operator.  This is intelligently linked so by clicking on the associated business you get to see their contact details, then a list of their projects, again all hyperlinked.

(coming soon) The ability to select data sets and download to a csv file. An example might be:

All solar projects in Kent with number of panels, acreage, address, developer, capacity.

or

The latitude and longitude and elevation of all Vestas V90 turbines in the UK along with the associated project.

Offshore projects

For offshore projects, there is a direct link to the 4coffshore resource and their map embedded (with 4coffshore’s permission) .  Have a look at Kentish Flats Wind Farm  you will also be able to see corresponding data from DECC and OFGEM where this exists.

The MAP

The ability to specify in greater detail what will be seen, eg just particular turbines or all projects for a particular developer or in a particular county.

Smart Data 

In the future will be the ability to login and manage private data alongside data from the Renewables Map.  That is fairly straightforward as the user management exists within the software and I use it, however it will have to pay for itself first.

But I’m not seeing all this extra data !

Your 1st visit of the day will show most of the additional data, then you will be switched back to the restricted version.

Alternatively have a look at   http://www.renewables-map.co.uk/details.asp?pageid=1940

Renewables Map gets over 10,000 unique visitors each month looking at over 30,000 project pages. 30% are regular visitors, many using the renewable energy  map as a routine resource.

My aim was to have everything on the renewable energy database and map a completely free resource and have been writing to the biggest users who are also the biggest power companies and generators.

I’ll list the biggest power companies: EDF; E.on; npower; Scottish Power;SSE . Lets add the generators: Airtricity, Ecotricity; Infinis; Energis; REG; RES; lightsource;  – oh, and every other generator I’ve missed (sorry not too list you) . Lets add the wind companies like Siemens; Vestas; Enercon; Repower and Vattenfall and not to forget the associated companies like National Grid,  Narec, STFC.  Actually, find a list of all companies in any way associated with energy and specifically renewable energy  and they are my biggest users. Don’t forget to add the BBC and Associated Press – actually all the media.  Then there is every single council and Government Department including Parliament and even the FCO!

Why list all of these companies and organisations?   Well, I had started to write to them, they use the resource and it would be so much easier to sponsor than have a paid for resource. That at least would make it accessible to the equally large number of schools, colleges and universities that use the data.

So, what sort of response? Well, RWE and Vattenfall replied – the only ones. Both were a NO, they remain major users.

Everybody else didn’t even bother replying – but I’ve only contacted a small number so far. It gets very depressing.  Ecotricity emailed to ask for a download of all the data I have collected over the last many years.  I politely suggested that I couldn’t do this for free, I didn’t even get a response, they remain major users, I’ve tried contacting again, no response.

Same for Bloomberg – have you seen the price of their terminals !

Crown Estates – they even state they offer sponsorship – No!

You can read about my attempt to simply carry on doing this but for DECC here: DECC RESTATS .  depressing isn’t it.  The people who won the contract – Eunomia rapidly became one of the biggest visitors to Renewables Map, only stopping when I wrote to Jayne Redrup of DECC complaining about what clearly looked like data mining /  plagiarism.

Anyway a last attempt at keeping all this free is going to be an approach to Heritage Lottery fund. I really want this to remain the best and be free access. Its just that as an individual providing a service to – yes the list of companies and organisations above –  that is a bit silly.

So.  renewables map will aim go from strength to strength, remaining the best , it will unfortunately move towards a paid for model.

Sorry

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WInd Farm Planning Tool

Adding data to the map, in particular when it comes to individual turbines has to be relatively quick and easy.  Actually adding turbines can be  quite cathartic, especially where the locations are easy. I’m adding the 40 or so turbines proposed for Strathy South in between writing this.

Proposed Strathy South Wind Turbines

It is a very simple point and click operation with the turbine data coming from the base project information, adding them to the map includes elevation and latitude / longitude along with the ability to modify the individual turbine in detail. ie it can be one of many all the same or unique. Projects and individual turbines are cross-referenced to a standard list of wind turbines each with their characteristics, so, rather than having to add to much detail, simply stating the turbine make and model is the cross reference to start, optimum and stop speeds along with data showing capacity and output based on wind speed.

Showing Calculated Wind Farm Output

Once the turbines are added, the map can then show calculated output for the project based on wind speed, actual and forecast that is downloaded routinely from the met office, in fact there is a growing history of wind strengths and direction for the UK that can be applied to the wind projects.

Test wind speeds can also be  applied to a wind farm.

Little Cheyne Court Wind Farm with forecast output and output test based on input wind speed

While I don’t have access to real output based on wind speed, the software to develop a balancing factor based on real output taking into account turbine characteristics, elevation, wind speed and direction would be fairly straightforward.

Wind Farm Forecasting Tool

Which means that it would be equally straightforward to develop a virtual wind farm with any number and type of turbine, then apply test wind speeds giving a realistic view of what the output might be throughout the year.

The additional benefit would be the “virtual” wind farm can be seen in the context of existing wind farms close by. Any dwellings, roads and other structures can be seen, and using either or all of OS maps, Google maps and satellite views, the impact can be easily seen.

If this is a wind farm that is going to go into the “proposed” or planning stage, the farm can be easily publicised showing the real proposal rather than a variation proposed by the anti lobby gaining credence.

I haven’t got to the point of showing the wind farms and turbines as an elevation with the correct sizes, but again, that is just a matter of coding, the location and elevation data is stored.

How easy would this be and how would it work in practice?

At the time of writing, the detail has to be developed, however the hard part of the software is complete and used routinely.

Screen shot of turbine entry routine: point ;add; save; point; add; save

Screen shot of turbine entry routine: add; point ;save;  add;point; save

I would see a relatively simple routine whereby a developer using the renewables map in the manner proposed above would have their own password protected login.

They would then be able to create projects in exactly the same way as renewable energy projects that are in the public domain are created, however they would be tagged as private to that login, maybe access limited to an IP?

The created project would then exist within the database under the control of the user, it might be left as a private project, modified so it was made public and part of the map or maybe public but only through a particular URL? Maybe deleted.

How much would this sort of thing cost?

Judging by other projects I have been involved in, ask for a quote from a consultant for much the same, then take a zero off!

Please feel free to contact me about this using one of the contact forms on the map.

Continued Decline – In consumption!

My electricity consumption continues to go down!

My Energy Tracker
My Energy Tracker

The earlier decline in energy consumption is largely due to general conservation measures, switching off lights and not using standby. The red realistically shows no change and fits in with the trend from last year, our extra effort in energy saving having started in April 2008.

With what appeared to be a limited impact on our net energy consumption by our wind turbines I approached FutureEnergy who very kindly called in and made some changes to settings. The mains electricity here is 250 and more volts, far from the European target of 230! Their visit was in late June and we appear to be showing an immediate 20% electricity saving from our Turbines and its during the summer when there is far less wind!

Ongoing changes are replacing failed light bulbs with LED lights (not CFLs). My bathroom will have 9 LEDs with a total consumption of about 11 Watts!

Overall a target of more than 10% by 2010, having had a 20% reduction in 2009 and similar in 2008.

See: Guardian article on Politicians plans to reduce consumption. You would think they would be leading, it all seems to be political hot air!

E.on and my OWL Energy Meter

My record of energy use over the last couple of years

My record of energy use over the last couple of years

My e.on account records my energy use on a month by month basis.   April is when I bought an OWL energy meter!

The energy use is generally low for my property as during the summer (mostly) I have solar PV. I have just installed Wind so next year should show a further month by month reduction.

Realistically, All we are doing with the OWL is using it as a reminder to go round switching things off at night. There is more to do, but I expect my consumption to go up again as I am looking at getting an Air Source Heat Pump. Certainly cheaper to run than the oil system I currently have.  That, along with triple glazing should mean that next year we are warm!

OWL’s website

My Wind Turbine – Lessons

1st wind turbine is up and I have assembled the second ready to install.

Lots of images here: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/solarkent

The delay in installing No.2 is twofold, too much wind at the time I’m able and have able and willing helpers, and I ran out of cable! I’ve also gone through the installation with an electrical engineer asking for some hints, in particular with regard to the wiring. This has to last a good few years either on its current position or moved to an alternative pole(s).

Most important is where the supplied cable is exposed to the elements, the cable I am using that is supplied by Future Energy should be covered. Where it runs inside the scaffold pole this is fine and is clearly the correct cable, however on my installation I have it coming out of the pole at a joint about 10 foot up. Then it is strapped to the scaffold tower in the open before it reaches the container where the electrics live.

The revised plan is to install a junction box at the point where the cable leaves the scaffold pole and then run armoured cable from that point. This will be Tri-Rated cable with the plan being the equivalent of the 10mm Tri-Rated armoured cable that has been supplied.

Once all the bits are there, the rest is easy, but: Where to get the cable, what is the precise definition, outside junction box, glands etc. And not too expensive! I’ve got an Electrical Engineer giving me advice so that ultimately all will be correct and compliant with any electrical laws.

See my earlier blog when I installed  Wind Turbine No.1

Feed In Tariffs – More Government Hot Air

A Feed in Tariff is considered to be a special rate that is applied to electricity that is generated and or exported to the grid. ie If I generate 1unit, I am paid at a certain rate by somebody, usually my electricity supplier.

It was expected to be included in the April 2008 Budget, but Alistair Darling simply promised to investigate over the summer.  In October Milliband anounced he would be bringing in a Feed in Tariff, in November the new energy bill confirmed this, but no date, no detail, just a promise.

In Germany (Guardian: Germany sets shining example in providing a harvest for the world) there are Feed in Tariffs set by the state which is set at 4 times the market rate for electricity. This is not just for the amount exported to the grid, but for all energy generated!

By setting this beneficial rate, the amount of solar energy generated in Germany is  200 times greater than the UK. A decent payment totally transforms the economics of domestically generated renewable energy, the payback time then becomes realistic and it takes the installation and generation on from ‘trailblazers’ like me to the mainstream.

Would it make that much of a difference? Yes! With a return on investment of maybe 8% – 9%, it immediately makes sense to extend a mortgage or invest in renewables rather than saving! As to the impact to Britain’s commitment to 20% renewables by 2020, look at the rate of change of consumer goods, the spread of digital TV, or earlier the take up of satellite dishes.

Implementing Feed in Tariffs will make it practical to invest in the development and sale of more innovative microgeneration. Perhaps sterling engined heaters (Microgen).  Or cheap VAWTs (Vertical Axis Wind Turbines) for the domestic market.  These are the far more attracitive turbines that spin on a vertical axis. They are far more suited to chimney or wall mounting as the gyroscopic effect of their spinning will act to stabilise, while the traditional wind turbine places stress on the mountings, the more wind the more stress.

With Feed in Tariff’s the UK has a chance of developing a renewable energy economy.  Without? well all the statements from Govt etc are just hot air!

The Govt has now anounced (Nov 2008) that it intends to introduce Feed in Tariffs, but no timetable! I intend to do more excercise, eat better… a meaningless statement until it happens. What we have had from this Government is been nothing but promises and words. Also see:  Government urged to improve ‘feed in tariff’ scheme for renewable energy again from the Guardian, but sums it up well.

But do read the Guardian article mentioned above: it was written a year ago and still nothing has changed. Also see the FOE statement.

A suggestion. If it is so difficult to implement these Feed in Tariffs, why not simply start by stating that Microgenerated Electricity will be purchased at a rate the same as the highest tariff charged to the consumer! My exported electricity is paid for at about 8p by e.on but I pay about 30p each for the 1st 900 units! Then it dips to just over 9p.

Also please sign my petition http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Feed-in-Tariffs/

New Wind Turbine Installed!

My New Turbine

Over the weekend I installed my 1st wind turbine and its hardly stopped spinning with the little orange flashing light that says its charging, flashing away!

Wednesday saw the parts arrive, the aim is to have two wind turbines mounted on scaffold poles which in turn are braced to a scaffold tower that sits on 4 concrete pads, the tower is tied down by 6mm steel braid. The tower has been up for some time, its even on Google earth, to see if there were any complaints – in fact I don’t think anybody can see it.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent assembling the 1st turbine and setting up the electronics. The electronics were to sit in an outside weather proof unit next to the tower. The simplest weather proof box turned out to be a garden tool box from Wickes, the electronics fitted in perfectly and the box sits bolted down to a concrete plinth.

Saturday, a day of no wind, was spent getting everything ready for the installation of the turbine.

Installing the turbine.

After assembling the turbine, this was bolted to a 10 foot scaffold pole which we were going to raise as a whole unit so the pole in turn sat on top of another scaffold pole making a single pole some 20 or so foot high.

Scaffold poles are not light, the more so with a wind turbine on top! I had set up the installation so that apart from the point where we stood the 1st pole (with turbine) vertical, everything was sufficiently braced that it could all be let go and wouldn’t fall on anybody. Helpers were warned that their fingers were more important than getting things fitted quickly.

With pole resting on the side of the tower, Geoff pushing from below, me pulling from the top and Dominic feeding cables, we raised the pole and turbine up into position so that it could slot into the bracket making a single long pole with turbine on top.

With the wind now picking up the race was on to attach the turbine cable to the electronics, the intructions said that it mustn’t run without a load! Fortunately I won the race, though I will have to tidy up the cables once the wind drops!

So, from Sunday the 20th, my carbon footprint has gone down a tiny bit more, and once the second turbine is up I’ll be close to carbon neutral on electricity!

The wind turbines are from Future Energy, the build quality seemed to be excellent and all went together very easily.  What is worth really emphasising is that though the turbine comes in a manageble and not too heavy pair of boxes, once it is assembled it is heavy and awkward. Then when it is on the pole ready for installation it is big, unwieldy and even heavier. It is vital to think safety first at all times, keep the kids away and think of ways that even if everybody lets go, it doesn’t come crashing down!

And its Windy

The perfectly still day started to get blustery as the turbine was raised, we got it up and wired in just as the breeze turned into wind with a bit of energy behind it and its been breezy, windy and blustery ever since! The turbine has been spinning and away from the property boundary, not a sound, even downwind! But I will have to deal with a few rattles from the scaffold tower

Next Step

Installing turbine Number two on the diagonally opposite point of the tower