How much renewable energy is being produced at any time in the UK? How does a PV array in Surrey compare with a similar sized one in Scotland? Is it currently sunny in Belfast? What is the current windspeed and direction in Welshpool?
These, and other questions could be answered using Nanode based sensors, fitted to renewable energy installations distributed around the country. The low cost of the Nanode makes renewable monitoring very affordable. Even on a £400 solar water heating system, the monitoring and control system, if based around Nanode would be just 10% of the outlay.
At the Pachube Hackathon we connected 3 Nanodes together using Pachube, so that we could monitor the output of a small solar panel plus the outside temperature. This was a small scale version of a real world app for the Nanode.
We believe that this will be a very important application for Nanode, acting as a domestic renewable energy monitor. It could, for example log all of the utility consumptions - water, gas and electricity, plus any renewables you may have installed, such as photovoltaics, solar hot water or wind power.
With a large population of Nanodes monitoring domestic energy consumption or renewable production, using statistical crowd-sourcing analysis of the data, important information regarding the state of the countries energy consumption and renewable production could be made available to the public domain. Nanode users could participate in a competetive game, trying to lower overall utility consumption, whilst maximising their renewable generation
A snap-shot of photovoltaic production in the UK, on a sunny afternoon, could be available to all, in virtual real-time. The low cost of the Nanode will stimulate these types of application. Additionally, on the back of the utility and renewables monitoring, the Nanodes could provide smart central heating or solar water heating control, triggered from an iPhone app, for example. Indirectly, Nanodes would provide weather data - which could be gleaned from the solar output figures. A Nanode could be interfaced to a low cost weather station kit, to give windspeed, wind direction, outside temperature, humidity etc.
In our small scale Hack, one Nanode acted as the sensing device (a slave) producing solar volts, milliamps and temperature readings every few seconds. It was connected via 15m of telephone extension cable to another Nanode which had the ethernet connection to get that data up to the net using Pachube as the host. A third net connected Nanode, subscribing to the Pachube feed was then used to work a servo actuator and a RGB lamp as visualisation devices.