Sustainability at UWA

Weather station data Cottesloe Home WA

A cheap weather station has been installed to monitor weather data on my home. The weather station has a number of convenient features making it useful and simple for collect data and present and correlate it with energy production data from a 1.44 kW solar power station on my home. The weather station features are:

  • Wireless connection to the instrument package
  • Data logging
  • Easy connection to PC with very simple data format
  • Display inside

Weather Station 

Weather instruments with wireless connection to display inside.  Display with USB connection to PC. Data may be downloaded to excel and manipulated sorted and graphed easily.

The next step in this project is to implement a current clamp device with simple data logger to log energy use of various appliances in the home. This can be done with a simple multimeter with data logging and a current clamp device.

The aim is to log:

Energy production data from the solar power station

Energy use data from the current clamp on various appliances in the home - lighting, refrigerator, kettle, water heater, air conditioning, washing machine etc.

Climate data

These sets of data can then be correlated and graphed together showing clearly how climate, lifestyle affect the overall picture of energy use and energy production. In a school environment this provides a very educational tool for teaching energy efficiency and climate change issues.

I have put in Grant applications on 2 occasions to SEDO to fund this project as part of the Solar Schools Program, but both have been knocked back. 

SEDO Application 2005

SEDO Application 2007 

The Solar School Program involves the installation of 1 kW PV systems on schools and is largely aimed at education. However it has a serious flaw and that is it is not very educational. This is because of the lack of breadth of coherent data. There is usually energy production data from the inverter, there are blue squares (panels) on the roof and a metal box (inverter) on a wall. There may be an energy production number for each day or perhaps even a series of numbers for shorter time intervals each day but all in all this is a very limited and boring set of numbers.

To make the systems educational climate and energy use data is also required. Then energy production and energy use data can be correlated with climate data. Time stamping of data allows us to look at lifestyle issues (working day, season, holidays, weekends, lunchtime etc) relating to energy use.

From this data schools can then understand and see using quantitative data the impact of change in behaviour on energy use. This is now a very educational system with flexibility, interest and breadth.

The Solar Schools Program, as it is, shows clearly the lack of real commitment from Government - both from the Australian Greenhouse Office and SEDO to implement a sensible and cost effective educational solar schools program. It is highly probably that through lack of interest due to the very limited data sets collected from the existing solar power systems that many will fail to operate in the following years and schools will be unaware that this is the case. Effectively 10s of millions of tax payers dollars will be wasted on blue squares on rooves of school that are doing nothing at all.