CydYnni – Energy Local, community hydro smart grid

Over the last year we have been involved in a project in our local area (Snowdonia, North Wales) called CydYnni – EnergyLocal. The project is at the forefront of making it possible for households to source their electricity directly from local, community-owned renewable sources.

The Bethesda pilot project, How it works

The first part of the CydYnni project started with about 80 households (with 20 more joining soon) and a single 100 kW hydro generator. Using smart meters suitable for half hourly billing in participating households and at the hydro generator, the amount of hydro power used by the community is calculated for every half hour. The hydro tariff is 7p / kWh for the power used each half hour by the community providing a significant saving for households. Any additional power required is bought from the supplier Co-operative Energy on a time-of-use tariff.

The project provides cost savings to participating households, increased income for local renewable energy schemes and a more direct sense of having electricity provided from - in the case of the pilot project a hydro turbine just down the road!

There is a nice video here on the project which gives a good overview:

There are a number of organisations working on the project of which we are one small part:

  • EnergyLocal: The organisation founded by Mary Gillie with the initial idea and in depth understanding of the energy market behind the project.
  • CydYnni: A local consortium of community energy projects and organisations including Ynni Ogwen and Partneriaeth Ogwen, Ynni Padarn Peris, Moelyci, Coetir Mynydd, Antur Waunfawr, Ynni Anafon and the National Trust.
  • Co-operative Energy: The Energy Supplier through which households participate in the project.
  • Epower also known as NFPAS: The non fossil fuel purchasing agency – handling aggregation, power sharing and the nuts and bolts of billing.
  • 1010: Graphic design
  • OpenEnergyMonitor: web app development in part 1 and home hub (base-station) development in part 2.

It’s been great being involved in such a pioneering project run in the local community in which we live (the OpenEnergyMonitor office is about 5 miles from Bethesda).

Our role so far has been to develop a web app / energy dashboard so that participants can see when the local hydro generator is running and how likely they are to be on the cheaper hydro tariff. Participants can see their own consumption as well as the aggregated consumption of all participants.

The main energy dashboard app designed by 1010 and implemented by ourselves can be viewed online here:

https://cydynni.org.uk

cydynni-app.png

The source code for the app is open source and available on github here:

http://github.com/trystanlea/cydynni

We have also developed a dashboard that is more focused on exploring the full data history of the hydro generation and community consumption, this dashboard can be viewed online here:

https://dev.cydynni.org.uk

cydynni-history.png

From the start of January the hydro supplied 57% of the electricity consumption of the participating households. You can really see how the available hydro generation decays usually over about a week after a significant rain event and the extent of the oversupply when it is raining.

It would be interesting to model the addition of solar to see how periods of lower rainfall might be supplanted by solar generation and explore other options for supplying the unmatched demand - e.g. anaerobic digestion.

Part 1: Energy Dashboard / Web App development

This first stage of the project relies on the app or looking at how rainy it is to signal to the households when it’s a good time to use energy. Any demand shifting is done manually by the householder. The data update rate from the smart meters is also relatively slow, with 48 half hourly readings updated daily but usually available in the app with a lag time of anywhere from 15 hours up to 63 hours over the weekend.

Part 2: Hub

The next stage of the project for us is to improve on this with an in home hub (based currently on the OpenEnergyMonitor emonbase), which will interface with a WIFI/radio meter gateway developed by Energy Assets, providing much faster 5-10s meter readings as well as enabling control of smart appliances, plugs and EV charging.

This development has driven some of our most recent improvements to the EmonPi/EmonBase, such as the recently launched WIFI Hotspot setup and ongoing development on the emoncms device module, which alongside auto-configuration of inputs and feeds provides the option to define control devices starting with the Sonoff S20 WIFI Socket, Martin’s WIFI Relay unit and the OpenEVSE charging station.

Over the coming months I will try to blog more on development progress and the technical implementation of the system in addition to insights into the data coming from the project demonstrating local community energy.


Advances Wales Magazine Article

Advances Wales is a quarterly magazine showcasing the latest news, research and developments in science, technology and engineering here in Wales, UK.

In the latest issue (82) we have been lucky enough to have an article featuring OpenEnergyMonitor. It’s well written and mentions a number of exciting developments that we have been working on e.g. CydYnni local energy project. Stay tuned for a blog post coming soon about this project.

Download the full magazine here.

advances artice


Emoncms Android App V2

Yesterday we have launched a significant update to the Emoncms Android app.

androidv2-1 Get it on Google Play

New features

1. Multiple emoncms accounts:

Monitor multiple Emoncms accounts, very useful for installers, power users etc. It’s also possible for these accounts to be on different Emoncms servers e.g. emoncms.org, emonPi, emonBase, yourawesomeserver.com etc. Additional account are easily added to the app using the built in QR code scanner and scanning the QR code on the ‘Account’ section of Emoncms.

androidv2-multiple

2. Multiple MyElectric graphs per account:

Useful to monitor more than one power feed: e.g. House consumption, Heat Pump consumption, Solar PV production, EV charging etc.

app1app2

3. Multiple currency rates for each MyElectric graph:

e.g day rate / night rate, Economy7, solar PV FIT, hydro etc.

app-cost

4. Language Translations:

French, German, Dutch, Italien and Spanish all rank among the top 5 for the Emoncms app in terms of active installs. We have now added the full native language support they deserve. Thanks a lot to the community for helping to proof and beta test. See bottom of this post for how to get involved.

app-lang

5. Chromebook support:

Many Chromebooks can now run native android apps, the Emoncms app works great on a Chromebook. It’s much quicker to load than the web version and does not require a login each time.

androidv2-4

Read on →

emonPi Network Setup Wizard

Ever since we launched the emonPi we have always wanted to make the first time setup process as easy as possible for new users.

emonpi wifi

We have just made significant progress in streamlining the setup process by enabling the emonPi / emonBase to broadcast a WiFi access-point (AP) on first boot then scan for local WiFi networks and allow the user to connect. The emonPi will then turn off it’s AP and connect to the local network. There is also an option to connect via Ethernet or stand-alone WiFi AP mode when no local network is available.

emonpi-network-wizard1

This has now been made possible using the Raspberry Pi 3 which supports WiFi access-point AP mode, some bash scrips and a new emoncms-setup module.

The new Network Setup Wizard will be included on all new purchased in July 2017 onwards. Existing emonPi’s with a Raspberry Pi 3 can be updated by running Admin > emonPi update in Emoncms. The emonPi will only broadcast a WiFi AP if Ethernet is not connected and no WiFi setup is currently present.

Trystan is also working on making the input-processing setup for new devices easier by adding device template support to the Emoncms Device module. More on this the come…see development forum thread.

Read on more screenshots of the emonPi network setup wizard….

Read on →

Raspberry Pi blog

I don’t usually write a blog post about a blog post! However this particular blog post does merit a mention.

The lovely folks at the Raspberry Pi foundation have published a blog post about OpenEnergyMonitor:

Raspberry Pi Blog: Open-source Energy Monitoring Using Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi as been an integral part of the development of the OpenEnergyMonitor system. We make extensive use of the Raspberry Pi in our emonPi and emonBase units. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has always been a big insperation to use, therefore we are honoured to get a little mention on their blog.

raspi-blog


emonPi as a Home Automation Hub

I believe automation can play an useful role in helping to reduce energy consumption. For example being able to control my home central heating system remotely enables me to only turn on the heating when it’s required and not have it running on a set schedule when the house is empty.

As previously mentioned in a blog post, the emonPi (running emonSD pre-built SD card) can function as a powerful home automation hub. Utilising the emonPi as a home automation hub is a good fit for a number of reasons:

  • It’s already running 24/7 for energy monitoring
  • It’s optimised for robust long term operation: the root Raspberry Pi file-system is read-only to increase SD card lifespan
  • It’s already connected to your local network
  • It’s running Debian Raspbian Jessie therefore installing extra packages is easy and lots of support is available
  • Raspberry Pi 3 has plenty of space capacity
  • Extra radios / accessories can be connected via USB
  • It’s already running an MQTT server
  • emonSD pre-built SD card comes pre loaded with the following integrations nodeRED, OpenHAB and LightWaveRF

In this post I want to share with you how I use the emonPi in my own home.

Here is a video demo using Google Home to control my central heating and devices via MQTT:

Read on to learn how this is achieved using an emonPi and open-source software…

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MyHomeEnergyPlanner - open source home energy assessment

I would like to highlight a piece of work by Carlos Alonso Gabizón which I think is an important piece of the home energy monitoring and assessment toolkit and a really useful tool, which we would be keen to see more people use.

Carlos has been working for CarbonCoop over the last year and a half on MyHomeEnergyPlanner – an open source household energy assessment tool based on SAP 2012 – a monthly domestic energy model.

MyHomeEnergyPlanner

MyHomeEnergyPlanner started as a collaboration between OpenEnergyMonitor and CarbonCoop but this latest version and active work on it over the last year and a half is all down to Carlos and CarbonCoop.

MyHomeEnergyPlanner can be used to calculate the space and water heating requirements for a home from a detailed breakdown of the building fabric: floor, walls, roof, windows etc. It uses U-values and areas to calculate building fabric heat loss rates, combined with calculated heat loss from infiltration and ventilation and heat gains from solar radiation, lighting, household appliances, cooking and occupants.

It can be used to model a building in its current form and then create scenarios to explore the effect of undertaking measures such as adding insulation, improving air-tightness and changing heating systems.

MyHomeEnergyPlanner is free to use and open source and is now installed on emoncms.org (Login with your Emoncms.org account)

http://myhome.emoncms.org

Read on →

Launching Learn: Sustainable Energy

Over the years we have done a fair bit of work that explores sustainable energy documented to a varying degree on the site. The Sustainable Energy section of Learn brings all of this together in one place that’s easier to find and navigate as well as extending it with further improvements to the energy modelling tools, discussion and analysis.

New Front Page

It starts with a brief introduction and energy 101, which outlines the energy consumption of the average UK household and a quick run through the main demand and supply side solutions used by the ZeroCarbonBritain scenario:

There is then a brief write up of an energy study into 17 households in Snowdonia, North Wales that Glyn and I helped run in 2010 that illustrates how different energy consumption can be across a number of household. It uses the energy stack graphics style used by the sadly late David MacKay FRS who wrote Sustainable energy without the hot air, to visualise the different uses of energy from traditional electricity demand to heating and transport:

Read on →

New home page and Learn website!

As you may well have noticed we have recently launched a new front page for OpenEnergyMonitor and a common navigation bar theme across all our sites. We have also launched a new website called Learn to replace the Building Blocks section of the old site. All URL’s directed to building blocks should re-direct automatically to the relevant Learn page.

devices

A key aim behind the redesign was to bring our interest and driving motivation of working towards sustainable energy and zero carbon more to the fore of the project. Energy Monitoring is a tool to help us understand our use of energy, and our motivation for starting the project was to understand our use of energy at home in relation to the wider context of what needs to be done if we are to get off fossil fuels and build a zero carbon energy system - We hope this update better reflects this interest.

This website redesign completes the shift away from using Drupal 6 cms that was started with the User Guide website launched April 2016 and a new Community Form using Discource launched May 2016. The old forums are still accessible as a read-only archive.

Alongside the new front page we have also launched a new website called Learn which includes what used to be called Building Blocks, resources for learning about AC Power Theory, CT Sensors, Measurement circuit design through to Timeseries data storage design.

Learn also includes a large updated section on Sustainable Energy which brings together and expands on our work on understanding the wider context, including a web-based 10 year hourly 100% renewable energy model based on ZeroCarbonBritain and resources on building energy modelling.

The new sites are all designed to be responsive for viewing on mobile as well as desktop screen sizes:

Read on →

OpenEVSE EV Charge Controller Review

OpenEVSE (recently renamed to OpenEV) design and build fully open-source EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) charge controllers for electric vehicles.

An EVSE charging station, is a device an electric car (EV) is plugged into to charge. It communicates to the car to agree on a charging rate that is the fastest and safest rate both the car and the power supply can support.

Update March 17: OpenEnergyMonitor and proud to announce that we are now the UK / Europe reseller for OpenEVSE charging stations, see OpenEnergyMonitor Online Shop.


openevse leaf

openevse build9

Note: this review is my account of using the OpenEVSE in the UK (240V single-phase AC), see OpenEVSE website for official build guides

Features

The features that make the OpenEVSE charge controller interesting to us are:

I recently swapped my ageing diesel car for an all-electric Nissan LEAF (it’s fantastic), so it felt like the perfect time to build and test an OpenEVSE charge controller unit!

Nissan LEAF charging from solar PV on a frosty morning:

nissan-leaf-solar-pv

Read on →