By DARA BUTTERFIELD
A group of families in Morayshire are now able to take advantage of a system that alerts householders when plentiful supplies of less expensive wind power are available
As part of a trial conducted with Heriot Watt University, 50 families in the village of Findhorn have benefitted from “significant” savings as a result of the computer-generated energy outlook report. If adopted widely, it will also save significant sums paid out annually by the government to wind farm operators for turning turbines off.
And next month the Findhorn ‘Origin’ trial, which forecasts when less expensive wind energy is available for the home use, becomes tailored to individual households.
Residents in the Moray eco-village are currently able to download a system that tells them when cheap locally-produced renewable power will be available. The system, which was developed by experts at Heriot-Watt University, is in its trial stage and will soon begin taking account of differences in the appliances of individual households.
Michael Shaw, founding member of the Findhorn eco-village, said that the forecasts had noticeably “changed people’s behaviour and encouraged them to use energy when it is available”.
Heriot Watt University’s Dr Edward Owens, project leader, said the results were “exciting because it shows that simply by informing people about the availability of renewable energy, you can elicit a significant change in their behaviour”.
Describing the forthcoming household forecasts, he added: “We know from audits which devices people have so we can offer bespoke suggestions like: ‘You might like to put the washing on on Tuesday afternoon’.”
The scientists have reported a 20 per cent rise in the amount of energy families used from their wind farm in the first six weeks of the Findhorn trial, saving around £20 per household.
Wind farms often produce maximum power at times that do not coincide with peak demand, resulting in millions of pounds of compensation payouts because the National Grid cannot store the excess power. If adopted widely the Origin system could save significant sums paid out annually by the government to wind farm operators for turning turbines off.
Origin went live in November 2014 at Findhorn and in two other villages in Portugal and Italy as part of a £2.3 million European Commission-funded study to synchronise renewable energy production with local demand.
* Meanwhile Lucy Bryden at Heriot Watt University and the Origin project are holding the following two project progress conferences:
Thursday 4 June 2015 at Findhorn http://findhorncollege.org/originconcept.php – ‘Harnessing Community Energies’
Thursday 24 September 2015 at Turin Polytechnic http://origin-concept.eu/node/83 ‘Optimisation of Community Scale Renewables’