Eco-villagers prepare for next stage of green energy research project

Findhorn
Findhorn

The Moray eco-village of The Park, Findhorn, is preparing for its part in the next stage of a £3.5 million green energy research project which attempts to synchronise the demand for energy within the village to the availability of locally-generated electricity on a community scale.

The ORIGIN research project, led by Dr Edward Owens of the Institute of Infrastructure and Environment at Heriot-Watt University, is being piloted over three years in eco-villages in Portugal, Italy and The Park, Findhorn in Moray, Scotland.

The innovative scheme enables the matching of energy generated within the community from wind turbines, solar panels, biomass district heating and heat pumps, with the energy requirements of public buildings, community homes and businesses.

Dr Owens said:

“We’ve spent the last year designing and installing a bespoke energy monitoring and actuation system in the community buildings and private residences in Findhorn as well as the two European communities involved in the project.

Now that the systems are in place we can monitor the real time energy demand of the communities and finalise the development of the energy orchestration algorithm that forms the core of the ORIGIN system.”

Dr Owens said that now the systems are in place we can monitor the real time energy demand of the communities and finalise the development of the energy orchestration algorithm that forms the core of the ORIGIN system.

He added:

“Groups of buildings are now connected via a smart energy hub and some of the buildings have been fitted with a series of energy controllers in each building which can be controlled remotely by the ORIGIN system.

“However the majority of the buildings will simply be sent information in the form of a ‘renewable energy forecast’ to enable the residents to make energy use decisions based on the current and future availability of the community’s own renewable energy generation.

“This means that they will use a greater proportion of the energy they generate from wind farms and solar panels within their community and minimise the need to import energy from the grid.

“Renewable electricity generation is notoriously intermittent in its availability and this technology should help communities and householders make more use of their own embedded generation.”

Michael Shaw, founding member of The Ecovillage Institute and resident Trustee, of the Findhorn Foundation, said:

“This innovative research project is helping put the Findhorn Foundation Community on the map as a centre of excellence for designing and building one of the most energy efficient and low-carbon village-scale environments in the country.”

Dr Owens is working with researchers from the University of Strathclyde, as well as Universities in Germany, Spain and Portugal to develop the community scale energy management system.

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