Renewable Energy Innovation

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Re-innovation has been involved with numerous renewable energy projects, from very small-scale off-grid systems, through to large-scale multi-kilowatt grid-connected systems. Here are details of some of those projects. If you think we could help with your project, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss your requirements.

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With summer here and sun every so often shining through, we have recently been involved with loads of pedal powered activities. One recent event was pedal powered water cannons which was run as part of the Celebrate Cycling event at Nottingham University Jubilee Campus which was part of a larger programme of events celebrating 125 years of Raleigh Bicycles.

We set up two pedal powered water pistols which were used to know down environmentally themed targets, such as a coal fired power station or a fat-cat banker. At the same time a sound system kept energy levels up. We also rigged up a children's bike with a bubble machine for the smaller children. While the weather was not so kind to us, the water cannons were in constant use throughout the day.

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Last Friday saw the Magnificent Revolution 20 bike cycle-in cinema being set up for the Milton Keynes Fringe Festival for an event organised by Independent Cinema MK.

The event attracted loads of keen cyclists, both young and old. Team MK were there and pedalling for the whole 3 hours. We even had power generated by the Mayor and a number of local MPs.

The event ran throughout the day and showed a number of interesting family-friendly animations, chosen by local animator, Tim Searle.

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I have recently finished a number of display and control units for pedal power demonstration systems. These projects have been in conjunction with Magnificent Revolution, who have been providing the actual pedal generators.

The systems consist of:

  • a shunt regulator (rated at 200W) to dump any excess power
  • a LED bar graph display as a visual read out of power generated
  • an LED display which shows the actual power output in Watts

 These systems have been built for the Arcola Theatre, the Carbon Smart program, Magnificent Revolution and for myself. Read on for more details and a video of the units in action.

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Here are some details on the prototype for the 'build your own' solar power system I ran as a workshop at the Nottingham hackspace. I'm pretty pleased with how it looks.

Basically it is a micro solar PV (photovoltaic) system, which includes a 10Wp solar panel, charge regulator and voltmeter, all encased in a laser cut wooden enclosure. This can be used to power small loads such as charging mobile phones, running a small sound system or even charging a laptop. The maximum output is 50W.

Here is a link to the Instructable design which has full design details.

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re-innovation have worked with London Bike Hub on a number of projects, providing their pedal powered sound system, bubble machine and pedal smoothie machines.
London Bike Hub are involved with all activities related to the promotion of cycling, including cycle training, educational workshops to get people onto bikes and bicycle maintenance.
They approached us to build a pedal powered Scalextrix to provide a fun way of promoting cycling and we obviously accepted the challenge.

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Re-innovation was recently comissioned to build the display system for an energy bike at the Arcola Theatre in Hackney, London. The energy bike is in the front-of-house at the theatre to help demonstrate and educate on energy consumption and efficiency.
This display system fitted to a pedal generator built by Magnificent Revolution. It has a bar-graph read out of the power and an actual value in Watts.
The system also worked as a voltage regulator, limiting the output voltage to 12V DC and shunting away the excess as heat, so that devices, such as phone chargers, can be plugged in for demonstration. The display is fully powered by the generator.

 

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We have been wanting to design and build an open-design, relatively inexpensive but fully functioned charge regulator for solar PV, wind, pedal and small hydro systems for a while now.

The majority of off-grid renewable energy systems are based upon lead acid batteries. Lead-acid batteries need to be protected from over-charging by the renewable energy source and over-discharging from the loads. This can be one with a series regulator (in the case of solar PV) or a shunt regulator (for PV, hydro and wind). Please check the web or my electrical design guide in the information section for more details.

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Re-innovation was asked by Magnificent Revolution to help build an 8-bike pedal powered generator for use over in Australia. Greer Allen has started up Magnificent Revolution Australia and has been working with Magnificent Revolution in London. She will be taking the generator over to Australia for a cinema event in Sydney.

 

She came up to Nottingham to build the main power equipment and wire it all up and test it. We had a fun week crimping, drilling and waiting for packages to arrive. She kept a great blog with photos here.
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I have been working with Magnificent Revolution for a couple of years now. They do all things pedal power related such as pedal powered sound systems, stages for festivals and cinemas. They also do loads of pedal power workshops (build your own!) and educational events. I have been working on an LED power and energy display for them (check this blog post). We got to try it out round a month or so ago at the Portobello Road Pop-Up cinema. Here is a video of the set-up process of their 20-bike generator system. The funny green thing under the screen is the power display.

The cinema was part of the In-Transit festival 2011. There are more photos (by Paul Bence) of the event and the people here.

 
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"Improving the long-term sustainability of off-grid renewable energy systems in developing countries."

A monitor for battery based renewable energy systems has long been on the to-do list for re-innovation. This page describes why such a monitor would be useful and introduces the design.

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For a couple of recent projects we have been asked to provide interesting and informative display units. We decided to build a unit which can be used in a number of different applications. It was designed to look good, be able to show graphics and text, have a couple of switch inputs and be configurable for a variety of uses. The end result was so useful, we decided to produce this design and a kit of the main parts.

 

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Note: This has been depreciated and is not available any more. Please see the new version of this device.

We have been developing software for use with the pedalog pedal power monitor, which is available from this page. This has been in conjunction with Dan Haughey of PoWWow Pedal Power.

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re-innovation were behind the original solar car kits used by reaction education. They supply renewable energy and engineering activities for a wide range of educational events. Their main activity is to design, build and race a model solar powered car. The kit includes a number of solar panels, motors, wheels and gears along with a whole heap of general building materials (mainly wood and plastic off-cuts). The participants create a solar car and then take it to the race track to compete against the other teams.

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Last year, re-innovation had two students, Shoan Mbabazi and Jon Leary, working on a project I had proposed for a electronic load controller for micro-hydro systems. These students were from the Sheffield University e-futures PhD course and completed this work as a 'mini' project.

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A friend has been using a beautiful 50's caravan to head to festivals and sell efficient outdoor cooking apparatus, through his company wildstoves.co.uk. He had already installed a 12V lighting system and a deep cycle battery. This year he planned on expanding his system and incorporating solar PV power. Already a very low user of energy, he did not want a large solar array, just enough for lighting at night, a radio and perhaps a laptop computer every so often. re-innovation was asked to design and specify the components for the system and then head over to help install it.

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We already supply the pedalog - a power and energy monitor especially for pedal powered generators. It also works with other forms of energy generation such as solar and wind and also energy consumption of DC loads.

One issue was displaying the data so that it is interesting and informative. One customer (Magnificent Revolution) asked for a large display for use on their multi-bike generator. This would be for use at events where the crowd wanted feedback of how much power and energy they are generating.

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Pedal power is a great, inter-active demonstration of power generation and consumption. Building your own pedal generator is also an amazing learning experience. There are a number of plans and designs around for the generator and stand (check out our own here), but information about the electrical systems is usually lacking.

Here is a full design for a shunt regulator for pedal power systems. A PCB, kit of parts and a fully built circuit will be available.

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Note: This has been depreciated and is not available any more. Please see the new version of this device.

There are many pedal power generating devices around - from recharging batteries to powering sound systems and cinemas. These systems are great interactive exhibits for people to get a physical feel for the power and energy that their everyday appliances consume.

The pedalog has been specially designed to monitor the power and energy generated by pedal powered electricity generators. Data can be collected and used to increase the educational value of pedal power demonstrations.

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This is a list of projects and potential projects that RE-Innovation is busy working on:

Project Date Concept Design Prototype Testing Production
Spectral Irradiance Sensor 14/9/13 Complete        
Communications Protocol 20/9/13  Beta        
PV I-V Curve Tracer 14/9/13 Complete  Complete  Complete    
Solar Irradiance Sensor
14/9/13 Complete        
Solar Pendulum 14/9/13 Complete        
DataDuino with Serial 14/9/13 Complete  Complete  Available    
Data Logger Unit 1/6/13 Complete Complete Complete Complete Available
Solar car kits 28/6/13 Complete Complete Complete Complete Available
Power Log - power and energy monitor for renewable energy systems
14/9/13 Complete Complete Complete Beta  
Open Charge Regulator 14/9/13 Complete

Complete

Complete Beta  
Micro-hydro ELC 1/5/09 Complete        
Pedal generator stand plans 4/6/10 Complete Complete Complete N/A Available
7 Segment LED display 14/9/13 Complete Complete Complete Complete Available
LED display unit 17/2/11 Complete Complete Complete Beta  
 
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re-innovation was asked by EvoEnergy to provide a test unit for their solar photovoltaic installations.

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RE-Innovation joined forces with Magnificent Revolution to increase the pedal power capacity of Bristol. Check out Magnificent Revolution's website for more details.

This included a two-day workshop for a number of bicycle related community groups to produce four pedal power generators, a one-day public pedal power workshop and a two and a half hour pedal powered screening of Metropolis at the Cube cinema. This was organised with the help of Sprockets and Dust.

 
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Pedal power is a great, inter-active demonstration of power generation and consumption. The effort required to pedal is a direct link to the power consumption of the loads.

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Renewable Energy Innovation designed, installed and commissioned a small solar PV array for a beach hut in Mudeford, Nr Christchurch on the South coast of England. The hut is owned by the Timms family who wanted to power a fridge, lights and some small appliances (mobile phone chargers etc.) throughout the main season (from mid March until October).

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Renewable Energy Innovation was asked to help install a small (700W) hand-built wind turbine on Shabel Farm, an organic dairy farm in Oberner Stollenhof, Nr. Rechburg, Schwabel Gmund, Germany.
The wind turbine was based upon Hugh Piggotts design and had been built by Matthias Kössler, after he had been on one of V3 Power’s wind turbine building courses.

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This was a practical guide produced while for SIBAT, an NGO working in the Philippines, on the construction of fibre-glass wind turbine blades for a 1kW wind turbine. This work was part of a one-year placement in the Philippines funded by Engineers Without Borders UK.

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This was a practical guide produced while working for SIBAT, an NGO working in the Philippines, on a 1kW wind turbine off-grid system for remote community electrification. This work was part of a one-year placement in the Philippines funded by Engineers Without Borders UK.

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During 2007 this simple solar photovoltaic (PV) system has provided some of my energy needs (OK, a pretty small percentage I'll admit). In total there are approximately 40W(peak) of PV panels.

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