Archive for Renewables

Careers in the Smart Green Economy and the requirement for graduates who can integrate IT with sustainable energy

Minister Eamon Ryan has identified an important niche in the green sector that Ireland can be a world class leader in. The development of applications that can integrate with sustainable energy sources and devices is a rapidly growing area.

Environmental regulations and policies as well as the increased awareness of reducing green house gases and preserving natural resources have led to the rapid increase in the demand for technical solutions that will measure, control and reduce energy utilisation as well as measure and condition the indoor environment.
The National Development Plan 2007-2013 and the current Programme for Government have each identified Ireland’s future energy needs as a national priority. Additionally, the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013 listed energy as a research priority and proposed the establishment of a National Energy Council. Most recently, new Building Regulations for have been published, which includes a mandatory minimum renewable energy requirement. This is the first step to ensuring that the management, measurement and control of energy comes part of our every day lives.
The emphasis on energy in the Government White Paper and National Development Plan indicates a long-term demand for expertise in technology that integrates with sustainable energy systems. This mirrors an increase in career opportunity globally, where a cumulative investment of $20 trillion is estimated by the International Energy Agency as being required in the period 2005 – 2030.
The importance of integrated technologies and how they can assist in the reduction of energy consumption has been identified by the 2009 EUROSTAT report Data Collection Handbook on Environmental Goods and Services Sector (ENV/EXP/WG/07 2009).  This finding is backed by the report of the High Level Action Group on Green Enterprise. Chairperson of the Group, Mr. Joe Harford, stated “I see a need for Ireland to be able to respond quickly and flexibly to capture new opportunities. Implementation of this Report is essential in order to maximise the potential for Ireland in the green enterprise sector. We need to gain a significant foothold and a competitive advantage in the short term as competition for investment and ideas in this sector is growing across the globe“.
Not surprisingly, a proliferation of energy related industries has grown to meet the resulting market demand for efficient heating and electrical generation systems based on sustainable sources. However, if Ireland is really to progress on energy issues, it needs many more graduates trained specifically in development of applications to control and monitor energy usage and generation for industrial, commercial and domestic buildings.
There is a requirement for graduates who 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 
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

TI’s Smart Sustainable Energy Computing Degree is now on the CAO

Our B.Sc in Computing in Smart Sustainable Energy is now on the CAO. The 4 year honours degree is TI020 and the 3 year ordinary degree is TI004

This programme is a response to take advantage of the exciting opportunities (Internationally and Nationally) that exist to maximise energy efficiency and renewable energy through the use of software and IT applications.

Tipperary Institute’s expertise in sustainability with projects such as SERVE and Cloughjordan eco village providing us with the practical considerations and theoretical knowledge that will be required of graduates.

internal wall insulation vapour and condensation issues – use external instead

Joseph Little from Joseph Little Architects & Building Life. Consultancy Author of “Breaking the Mould” gave an interesting talk at the Server Project and Conference

Internal wall insulation is tricky and must be done properly
Strip gypsum plaster back and remove plaster, ensure there are no rising damp issue
He recommends External wall insulation as a more preferable solution and raised the point that External wall installers require training and certification while internal insulation wall installer only require a C2 tax clearance certification.
External insulation has the less vapour permeable material on the inside, the building physics reinforces and helps the installation and means that the external solution is less susceptible to problems.
He presented some interesting maps and stats as to when internal and cavity fill insulation should be used, which is dependent on driving rain conditions and location.
He maintains there is a significant lack of guidance to standards and install.
He used WUFI Pro Hygrothermal simulation. It conforms to IS EN 15026 and insulation providers need to refer to this standard and not the Glaser method.
The existing Glaser method isn’t suitable for internal insulation under IS EN 13788. We need a move towards WUFI.

The cold irish winter of 2009 -2010


We are experiencing a cold prolonged winter spell that reaches back as far as 1963 from a historical record beating point of view, As you can see above the weather station recorded lows of -9.6 degrees Celsius. When the wind chill was factored in this brought it down to -13.2 Celsius. Several of my neighbours have no water due to frozen pipes, we are fortunate that our have not frozen yet.
The 45 cm of insulation in the rafters and the 10 cm under the pitch of the roof as well as the filled cavity are doing their part to reduced the chilling effects. There is no easy fix for the state of the roads.

PowerPredictor – An anemometer for assessing wind turbines and solar panels

This product does a nice job of measuring wind speeds at a remote location as well as recording solar hours.

The data can the be uploaded to a website and your wind data can be utilised to assess how much energy you could potentially generate with various wind turbines

Average wind speed in Ireland is 3.12 – 8.04 m/s

The average wind speed in Ireland according to the Irish metereolegical office  is  7 – 18 mph. Average annual wind speeds range from 7 m.p.h. in parts of south Leinster to over 18 m.p.h. in the extreme north.”

This converts to 3.12 – 8.04 m/s, I have seen claims by a wind turbine provider that the average wind speed in Ireland is 9.3 m/s – 14.16 m/s. This does not correlate with the met office and should be ignored.

Using capacity factor as a yard stick for assessing a wind turbines payback and output

I recently attended a Tipperary Energy Agency training course on RETscreen. The excellent trainers referred to and discussed the vestas wind turbines that are used in wind farms in terms of capacity factor. These range  typically in the 30 – 40% bracket as they are placed on well exposed sites.

As explained in the American Wind Energy Association website  capacity factor is one element in measuring the productivity of a wind turbine. This figure compares the wind turbines actual production over a given period of time with the amount of power the turbine would have produced if it had run at full capacity for the same amount of time.

e..g a 1.6 kw(rated at 12 m/s)  turbine generates 3321.792 kwh of electricity in a year.

If 12 m/s wind was available 100 % of the time then it would have generated 14016 kwh of electricity (8760 hrs * 1.6 kw) . The capacity factor is 

amount generated                          =        3321.792
——————–                                       ————–
theoretical amount at full capacity            14016

= 23.7 % capacity     

This does not mean that the turbine is faulty it just implies that wind speed of 12 m/s was not available all of the time.

The community wind power fact sheet reports that wind typically has a capacity factor of 20 – 40 % and hydro (water) has a capacity factor of 30 – 80 %. Water is more predictable and makes for a more dependable source of power.

If Company X makes a claim that a turbine can pay for itself in 7 years a crude measurement would be divide the cost of the turbine by 7 and then calculate the 
number of units that would have to generated and compare this to the cost of the turbine 

e.g. Turbine X sells a 1.6 kw turbine (rated at 12 m/s) for 7000 euros installed, and claims a pay back in 7 yrs. This turbine would have to generate 1000 euros of electricity per year to achieve this.

1000 euros of electricity at 16 cent per unit = 6250 units
The theoretical would be 8760 * 1.6 = 14016 units

Actual production                              = 6250
—————–                                       ————
Theoretical                                            14016

= 44.6 % capacity

This capacity factor is higher than commercial wind farms and would very difficult to achieve.

According to RETscreen awind turbine at 10 meters would n
eed to have wind speeds of 10.9 meters which is 13.2 at 50 meters. Using a shear factor of 0.12 which is open agricultural land with no buildings nearby. These types of wind speed are very difficult to achieve.

Evance who used to be called iskra market their 9000 turbine which they claim will generate 9000 units per year at the uk mean speed of 5 m/s. Their turbine is rated at 5.4 kw at 11 m/s

Capacity factor =                     9000

= 19% = 9000 * 0.16 = 1440 euro of electricity per year.

So we have one turbine manufacturer who markets at 44% capacity and the other at 19%.

Personally speaking I think 20 – 25 % is a good yard stick for assessing a domestic turbine

e.g. 2 kw turbine at 25% capacity would produce 
(8760 * 2 ) * 0.25 =  4380 units 
4380 at 16 cents = 701 Euros per year.

If you want to get your money back in 10 years it should be priced around 7,000 euros.

Hopefully this will assist you in making some rough calculations on wind turbine claims


Heat Recovery Ventilation – Don’t forget to maintain them !

Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems (HRV for short) are becoming very popular in Ireland. They facilitate air flow in a building while preventing unnecessary heat loss through the use of a heat exchanger.

The outgoing warm stale air, heats the incoming cold air.
It is important to clean and replace filters on a regular basis. has an interesting discussion on this topic and the fact that irish government are going to issue guidelines on this.

Schools can get insulated for free

Matthew Collison at fpisolar sent me some interesting info on the Energy Efficiency Scheme 2009 for Schools. 

1)  Scheme covers cavity wall insulation and or attic insulation (in standard pitched roofs….flat roofs / dry lining etc. not covered.) in national schools built before 2006
2)  Scheme covers quilt type insulation in attics (fibre glass or rock wool, blown in products excluded) and EPS bead or similar for cavity wall (foam excluded)
3)  Scheme covers 100% of the cost
4)  School needs to get 3 No. quotations from approved suppliers.  Approved suppliers are the same as those registered for SEI HES Scheme
5)  On completion school needs to hire engineer, architect or suitably qualified person to verify that work has been carried out (€200 provided by dept to fund sign off inspection)
6)  Dept has set out minimum specification to be achieved
See and for more info

Building an Eco Home – Read the Whole House Book

If you are considering building an energy efficient house, I would recommend that you read the whole house book. This book originally published in 1998 but updated in 2008. It covers all aspects of a sustainable building project. With numerous case studies which highlight the improvements that can be made to a structure it shows the reader how small changes can generate big results.
The CAT centre in Wales publish this book, this centre has been implemented “green technologies” since the 1970s, some of which are only becoming mainstream now.
My colleague Bernie Goldbach wrote an article in April in relation to the greener homes supplement in the Sunday Times. This supplement appeared again this weekend (21st June 2009) the articles prompted me to mention this book. There is a renewed interest in sustainable design, this is something we teach and specialise in Tipperary Institute. We use this book as the student text book for our Advanced Certificate in Domestic Sustainable Energy