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19 July 2001

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Windmill Helps Monitor Renewable Energy

A University Centre for Renewable Energy is testing an energy efficient trial home. Both this and the Centre building itself are equipped with photovoltaic solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. The University needed to assess the performance of the solar panels, and chose Windmill software to do so.

The Windmill system calculates the panels' power output and conversion efficiency, displaying the cumulative and instantaneous values both graphically and as a table. Windmill also logs temperature, wind speed, solar radiation, direct current, DC volts, power into the electricity grid and power out of the grid.

Windmil records data at 10-second intervals. Data was automatically transferred to an Excel spreadsheet, which averaged the data at one minute intervals and then returned to Windmill for archiving to file. As part of a data protection strategy, the raw monitoring data was archived in three different places: on the monitoring PC, on CD-rom and on an office PC.

The data is acquired using Microlink 1500 units provided by Biodata. These units are distributed around the two buildings, communicating with the central PC over RS485 cables. More details can be found Biodata's the Microlink Measurement and Control Systems site.

Further Reading: Monitoring of PV systems at the Centre for Renewable Energy and Eco-Energy House, S. B. Riffat, S. A. Omer, R. Wilson.

data logging from pilot plant


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