From today residents in the Moray eco-village of Findhorn can now download ‘renewable energy weather forecasts’ from the internet that tell them when locally-produced renewable power is available – which could generate savings of up to 40% on their electricity bills.
Householders will be able to schedule their peak energy use such as running washing machines and dishwashers – to coincide with peaks in locally produced energy.
A team of researchers led by experts at Heriot-Watt University has spent the last two years monitoring locally-produced green energy and matching that with energy use in households in Findhorn.
Around 60 homes, businesses and public buildings took part in the £3.5million green energy research project which monitors renewable energy generated from wind turbines, solar panels, and biomass district heating to match the energy requirements of local residents.
Dr Edward Owens of Heriot-Watt University’s Energy Academy, said, “Every household will receive a personalised ‘renewable energy forecast’ showing the best times to schedule their energy and hot water.
“This means that local people will use a greater proportion of the energy they generate from embedded devices such as photovoltaic panels and wind turbines, maximising the use of renewable energy and minimising the need to import energy from the grid, which could result in savings of up to 40 per cent on their electricity bills.”
This technology, also being piloted in eco-villages in Portugal and Italy, spreads energy use out to avoid the peaks that put power grids under stress and can lead to black-outs.
Dr Owens added: “Devices such as washing machines or dish washers in some of the buildings taking part in the project are controlled automatically from the main energy hub, meaning they are automatically turned on when enough locally produced energy becomes available, whereas other buildings require a resident to make decisions based on ‘recommendations’ from the forecast.”
Long-time Findhorn resident Mari Hollander is the project manager responsible for encouraging people in the community to take part in the green energy project.
She said: “I’m looking forward to the final stage of the project that aims to help residents use their renewable energy more effectively. It will be interesting to see if the renewable energy forecast changes people’s behaviours over time and encourages them to use energy when it’s available, and turn appliances off when it isn’t.”
Dr Owens is working with researchers from Strathclyde University, as well as innovation hubs and universities in Germany, Spain and Portugal.