Archive for Renewables

LIT Tipperary’s Smart Sustainable Energy students can expect a green and busy year

500 sqm Solar Park

Cloughjordan Eco Village 500 sqm solar array for hot water

As we head back for another academic year in LIT Tipperary/ Tipperary Institute my thoughts are turning to the busy year we have ahead of us. Our Smart Sustainable Energy students in our level 8 and level 7 programmes will have the oppurtunity to experience many aspects of the renewable energy sector in our sustainable orientated campus. These include:

  • Installation of our wood chip heating system for the Thurles campus. Students will have a read only access to the complete system which will be used through out the 4 years of the degree.
  • Field trips with the Smart Green Society to various Renewable sectors/sites
  • Installation of our wind anemometer and Davis Pro weather station. We will use this data in our maths analysis modules to estimate wind speeds and models for wind turbine power estimation. The weather station will also record solar activity and we will use this to estimate solar PV output.
  • Solar PV Trainer, our new solar PV trainer will assist us in exploring how to harness solar energy to generate electricity as well as developing hardware/embedded solutions to integrate with the solar PV kit.
  • Assist in organising Green week, last years green week was a great success and we hope to continue this with a week of talks by people and businesses in the green sector.
  • Green campus initiative, LIT Tipperary is in the process of seeking green campus accreditation. This will require a significant amount of input from both the campus community and management. Members of the smart green society will assist in this process.
  • Explore and learn software development processes and languages that are used in the renewable energy/ green tech sector. The efficient use of green resources requires intelligent software and hardware to harness this resource to good effect from web apps to hardware solutions. Students will explore how software applications and embedded systems can be developed to assist in this area.
  • Monitor and assist in reducing the electrical energy demand of our Thurles and Clonmel campuses. Using real time electrical monitoring equipment we aim to educate the campus community about electrical consumption and reduce it.
  • Monitor and assess data from energy efficient communities so as to assess the performance of various building technologies and renewable heating sources.
So its going to be a busy but enjoyable year. As a campus that practices sustainability as well as teaching/preaching it we believe that our smart sustainable energy students will get experience both the practical and theoretical in this emerging and fast growing sector.

LIT Tipperary takes the lead in Sustainable Energy Technologies

“Ireland has an opportunity to take the lead in the development of Smart Sustainable Technologies which will benefit energy security, sustainable development and the creation of employment” according to Dr Liam Noonan the programme chair of the Computing degree in Smart Sustainable Energy in LIT Tipperary.

LIT Tipperary have recently taken delivery of a number of new sustainable energy technologies so as to provide students with hands on practical experience in monitoring, assessment and design of new solutions to maximise energy efficiency. LIT Tipperary is also a partner in monitoring energy performance generated by the monitoring systems installed in 100 houses as part of the EU SERVE Project, as well as data from Eco village in Cloughjordan which include Ireland’s largest Solar Array, District heating and passive standard buildings.

“This comprehensive degree, which includes hands-on training and access to live data from sustainable communities, will give our students the necessary skills to be successful in the workforce upon graduation,” Dr Noonan explains. “Our goals for this degree are two-fold, to encourage and develop sustainable technologies, and to provide our students with the best, leading edge learning experience possible.”

The Smart Sustainable Energy degree provides a range of advanced modules in computing and sustainable energy technologies thus producing graduates with strong employment prospects within the sustainable energy and software development domain. Graduates will acquire the necessary knowledge to cope with the changing nature of the sustainable energy domain and the computing industry throughout their careers.

“This flagship degree program is the first of its kind in Ireland,” Dr Noonan said. “This degree  builds on our continued leadership in the renewable energy and sustainable development sector. We are the first college to offer a degree in the converging area of Computing and Sustainable Energy and we are delighted to be partnered with the Eco village in Cloughjordan and their community”

With the spiraling costs of fossil fuel based energy such as oil the environmental technologies market is forecast to reach €2.3 trillion by 2020, while in the EU the sector employs 3.4 million people and turns over €227bn annually.

Eco Evolution, a renewable energy business based in Co. Wexford and Switch Source a Photovoltaic company based in Co. Antrim, have designed and supplied LIT Tipperary with a Solar PV Trainer station for use on the Smart Sustainable degree programme.

“Eco Evolution is thrilled to be partnering with LIT Tipperary on this exciting project” said Frank Gethings, managing director. “We firmly believe that degree programmes like this are the way of the future and that LIT Tipperary are leading the charge on behalf of third level institutions across Ireland”

For more information please visit or contact Dr Liam Noonan at 0504 28254 or email

Retro fit Air Tightness project update – lessons learned so far

I have just completed the knee wall/ crawl space area of our dormer house using the vario air tightness system. I find the Vario protape ideal for attaching the membrane to the timber beams and the masonay wall and I am sealing the overlaps using KB1 tapes.

As the project has progressed I am getting more proficient at installing the membrane. Initially I was running the roll horizontal along the rafter/crawl space area and then running a second roll above it to complete the seal. I have found that it is more practical to run the roll vertical up along the rafters and use the protape and the top and the bottom. I would recommend measuring and cutting the pro tape in a big area such as your hall way so you can ensure you use the right amount. What also helps is to attach the protape to the Vario KM  Duplex UV membrane on one side this simplifies the install.

When dealing with masonry walls I run a strip of the protape along the wall and when the Duplex UV is in position remove the other side of the tape and attach. I find the Vario DS sealant impossible to use and its very messy.

The powered respirator is a god send and so is the 60 Watt LED light wand, I would not be able to do the install with out them as you are working in awkward corners with insulation dropping all around you as you position the rockwool flexi in place.

The attic overhead is next and I am hoping/praying that it will be more straightforward ! Time will tell …

Heat your home with irish timber instead of imported oil


With heating oil heading beyond 90 cent a litre. Irish home owners should give serious consideration to heating their homes with solid fuel stoves with back boilers. The fuel can be sourced from Irish timber growers such as ash thinnings and is not subject to the same price fluctuations. The stanley reginald stove pictured above produces 15.8kw maximum boiler output and 4kw maximum output to the room.

In order to utilise boiler stoves effectively home owners should first reduce the heat demand for their home by incorporating insulation, heating controls and if possible address any air leakage issues which can be revealed using a pressure and infra-red assessment of the home. We are in the process of addressing air leakage through the implementation of an air tightness system which should reduce the heat demand by addressing the heat loss issues due to unnecessary air movement in our dormer home.

As the cost of oil increases the payback time for implementing these solutions is rapidly decreasing. There is over 1000 acres in our parish under forestry so switching to solid fuel seems like the right decision for our home. I believe that in the next 5 years many Irish home owners will make the same decision,

Retrofitting- an air tightness solution

image a pressure and infrared assessment revealed significant convection loops and heat loss due to air movement in our dormer house.

We have decided to implement an isover vario air tightness solution. Which means constructing a warm roof. The insulation under the rafters is 150mm rockwool flexi which was in place but there were gaps. It is important to keep a 50 mm gap between the rockwool flexi and the roofing felt as its non breathable. The key to air tightness is attention to detail which means that it a slow job. So far I would calculate that 2 sqm is taking me 1 hour to complete.

A big issue I have is restricting air flow from the soffit to the floor joists as its open. I am using a swiss roll insulation approach to prevent this air flow and allow the air to pass up the roof behind the rocckwool flexi.

I would recommend a powered respirator as shown in the picture above. I purchased a trend air ace which weighs nearly 1 kg and has an 8 hour lithium ion battery. It means I have filtered air passing over my face and the filters take out all the insulation dust that is floating in the area. The hard hat aspect helps when you are crawling around a dormer crawlspace. If the respirator was half the weight it would be perfect but I am happy enough with it. I am also using a 60 Watt LED light wand which lasts 4 hours on a charge and a staple gun with 10mm staples.

An airtightness system has a variety of tapes and I use double sided protape, KB1 and multitape SL1. These take getting used to and I would recommend attaching the protape to the membrane before you bring it into the attic area as it sticks to everything !!

This job will take several weeks as warm weather usually restricts me to 1 – 2 hours in the morning before things get to warm. As I stated earlier it is slow and steady work and I will get there eventually. There is no pointing doing a half assed job as it is a waste of time and money.

Software Development graduates are in demand in Ireland

With the news today that AOL is to hire another 20 software engineers (They hired 50 in June) and the fact that Amazon are looking for Java developers, I am still surprised that the interest in software development and ICT at a national level is still quiet muted. In a economy with rising unemployment students should consider a rewarding and challenging career with good prospects in software development. This includes a myriad of domains such as enterprise, sustainable energy, embedded systems etc.

Another multinational that is hiring is Google. At the moment they are looking for C, C++, Python, Perl, Java Experts in Dublin. They also recently announced they are going to create 200 new jobs at a new operations centre.

The  new B.Sc (Honours) in Computing (Smart Sustainable Energy) degree focuses on developing and designing innovative sustainable energy technology that solves energy problems. This innovative programme is essential in supporting the development of Ireland’s smart green economy. This programme addresses the requirement for a low carbon high-tech economy with the potential to create 80,000 jobs over the next decade as identified by the Green Enterprise Group in Dec 2009. The course is unique in Ireland and is built upon Tipperary Institute’s expertise in the sustainable energy sector. The course will commence in September 2010 and students can apply through the CAO, the course code is TI020 for level 7 and TI004 for level 7.

These graduates will focus on the design and implementation of new innovative systems which integrate technology with sustainable energy sources. Careers in this area include the following sectors:

  • Energy Management Systems
  • Electric car charging systems
  • Building Management Systems
  •  Automated energy controls for Industrial buildings
  •  Mobile communication solutions for energy systems

iButtons – miniaturising the monitoring of building environments

I am experimenting with a Maxim iButton with a view to incorporating the device into our new computing degree in Smart Sustainable Energy Curriculum in Tipperary Institute.
The iButton is a computer chip enclosed in a 16mm thick stainless steel can. Because of this unique and durable container, up-to-date information can travel with a person or object anywhere they go. The steel iButton can be mounted virtually anywhere because it is rugged enough to withstand harsh environments, indoors or outdoors. It is small and portable enough to attach to a key fob, ring, watch, or other personal items, and be used daily for applications such as access control to buildings and computers, asset management, and various data logging tasks.”

The unit is the size of a watch battery and slightly bigger as you can see above it is smaller than a 20 cent coin.

Application development is supported through Java APIs and a number of other options.

There are four components fundamental to any iButton application:

  • iButtons
  • A host system: this can be a PC, a laptop, a handheld computer, or an embedded system.
  • A reader/writer device to get information into and out of the button. This can be the Blue Dot, a pen-style probe, or a handheld device.
  • A layer of software to interface iButtons to computers and produce the desired information in the desired format. Several software development kits (SDKs) are downloadable from this site at no charge. For a list of SDKs and links to download, see this page. We also offer 1-Wire Drivers for Microsoft platforms, along with the OneWireViewer, a demo application that can read/write/exercise any iButton.

Smart green retrofit electricians needed for the irish market

Houston Neal at electrical estimating software advice has a great article about the potential work out there in America for electricians who can provide technology to assist in the reduction of energy for homes and businesses.

The article cites several sources which highlight the growing demand for green retrofit. This is evidenced in Ireland through the SEAI Home Energy Saving Scheme
Houston identifies 5 key areas which are:
  • Relamping – replacing standard lighting with energy efficient lighting
  • Daylight harvesting – using technology to reduce the use of electrical lights
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Retrofits
  • Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems and Wind Turbines – Grid ties etc
  • Energy Management Systems and Monitoring Devices – Which is of particular interest to us in Tipperary Institute as it focused on the convergence of technology and sustainable energy management
Full article can be found here

Smart Home’s connected technology will help drive house sales reports that a smart home is more attractive to buyers, who are looking for value add services being integrated into their prospective purchase.

“Industry data suggests three areas of connected home technology will fuel consumer demand moving forward, including home theater, MRAV (multiroom audio/video), and energy management. These technology systems not only add attractive options for buyers, but can set a builder apart as cutting-edge.”

In this tight economy builders of new homes will need their properties to stand out, this akin to buying the car and getting air con, sat nav and cruise control thrown in for the same price.

Students in Tipperary Institutes new Computing degree in Smart Sustainable Energy will study this convergence, the associated technologies and develop their own unique solutions

ESB Networks have a requirement for graduates who can integrate IT applications with renewable/sustainable energy

On the 16th April 2009: the ESB announced a series of initiatives to create and sustain up to 6,000 jobs and training opportunities in the economy. Up to 3,700 new jobs will be created outside the company in Ireland, supporting the delivery of ESB’s ambitious strategic framework in the following areas:
Smart networks
Smart metering
Electric vehicles
Wind energy
Property construction
New technologies (Eco Fund)
Energy service (home insulation)
Others (Telecoms, Biomass, Green Fleet)
In addition, ESB will sustain a further 1300 jobs, also outside the company, by its commitment to the ambitious ongoing investment programme in the company’s power generation and networks infrastructure.
This major initiative highlights the requirement for graduates who can design and develop applications that can integrate with sustainable technologies.
Tipperary Institute has launched their new B.Sc (Honours) in Computing (Smart Sustainable Energy) degree, which focuses on developing and designing innovative sustainable energy technology that solves energy problems. The course is unique in Ireland and is built upon Tipperary Institute’s expertise in the sustainable energy sector. The course will commence in September 2010 and students can apply through the CAO. 
For more information visit the Tipperary Institute website or contact Dr Liam Noonan in the ICT Dept at 0504 28000