Supporting Renewables

In 2020, it is expected that renewable energies will contribute a minimum of 30% towards electrical output in the UK [1]. Having joined the ambitious 2009 EU directive for renewable energies, it is great to see the UK making positive gains in meeting (and hopefully exceeding) this target. This is a result of maturing technologies, reduced costs, improved public perception and high rates of private investment.

For the UK, as for much of the rest of the world, the step towards renewable and sustainable energy generation is a necessary one. Energy security is a critical issue for all countries who import fossil fuel. It is well known that fossil fuel resources are depleting whilst demand continues to increase. Continued reliance on fossil fuels leaves the UK exposed to price fluctuations and cross-border supply issues. Even the smallest change can have a critical impact on the economy.

The UK is taking the appropriate steps towards energy sustainability, whilst also creating opportunities to export clean energy to neighbouring countries. It is crucial that the country takes advantage of its geographical and climactic position. Since 2008, the UK has been a world leader in off-shore and inland wind farming and it is also beginning to exploit its vast wave and tidal resources with innovative prototype technologies. In the solar sector, the country is making major advances, with power output currently estimated at 4.7GW. This is expected to double in the next few years [2].

Munro Instruments vehemently supports advances in renewable energy and has made this sector a key priority for 2015. We will be unveiling new products to assist work in photovoltaics and small-to-medium scale wind power.

The new Munro Wind Turbine, launched last week, is ideal for small-scale power generation and can be easily integrated into any compatible system. It has a nominal power output of 350W at <10m/s and can produce 1400kWh or more of electrical power per annum depending on site selection.

Munro is also making inroads into the solar arena. We will be releasing a range of high precision solar monitoring systems designed by EKO Instruments, used, amongst other things, for site prospecting, performance monitoring and outdoor materials testing. Equipment will include spectroradiometers, pyranometers, pyrheliometers, as well as complete solar monitoring systems.  These are due for release in February 2015.

by Paul Scott

[1] UK Renewable Energy Roadmap 2013

[2] Renewable UK Homepage

Weather Management

Meteorologists don’t just monitor the weather for the sake of it. All people and industries are affected by it in some way, shape or form. It is both an ally and our greatest adversary.  Effective meteorological management can, nevertheless, help us deal with some of its more unruly characteristics. This saves time and money and allows consumers and producers, businesses and individuals to boost efficiency and promote safety.

At Munro it has long been our mission to satisfy the world’s meteorological needs, irrespective of industry. It is becoming increasingly important to understand the ways in which the weather affects our everyday activities – both personal and professional.  Only by doing so can we develop effective counter strategies. The brash response to ‘Snowmageddon’ in New York perfectly demonstrates the importance of this. Shutting down the city for what turned out to be a relatively light covering of snow caused a huge amount of disruption in all sectors. Accordingly, our current work is aimed at kick-starting clients’ meteorological strategy through the provision of reliable, long-lasting and easy-to-use weather monitoring equipment.

The Munro 150 Series – due for release in the coming months – is a major step forward in this respect. The Series takes a modular approach to weather and environmental monitoring, allowing users to ‘pick and choose’ from a broad range of sensors and create a meteorological system suited exactly to their needs and application. This will ensure effective weather-related decisions can be made, without having to commit to the expensive (and in many cases superfluous) options offered by other weather stations. Noise, air and water quality sensors can also be added if required.

Conscious of the fact that weather monitoring can be complicated by geographical and environmental factors, Munro has introduced a number of new products to broaden our instruments’ scope and operability. We sell meteorological masts of varying heights (pneumatic, winch-operated and aluminium lattice), allowing for easy set-up, maintenance and dismantling of weather equipment. In addition, we have introduced independent power sourcing on all our 150 Series sensors for remote, difficult-to-access to areas. Where grid power is unavailable, systems can be powered using a Munro wind turbine or solar panel. Integrated data loggers store all information, which is then sent via GPRS to our proprietary web-based software, ClimateCloud. This is viewable anywhere in the world.

Our broad goal is to facilitate the difficult but essential task of meteorological and environmental management.

by Edmund Daley

Digital Pendulum

The release of our new Digital Pendulum draws ever closer. Keeping our customers at the forefront of our minds, we have ensured that the instrument’s core design and functionality remains the same as its predecessor. Development work has focussed on improving methods of data capture and analysis. The new device will, nevertheless, still meet all relevant international standards.

The new Pendulum will be fitted with an LCD screen to provide absolute clarity of results. The digital output will transmit the results via Bluetooth to our software. The data will be easily analysable, ensuring more effective report generation. The user will also have a clear historical record of their findings, should any of the surfaces that they have tested be called into question.

We are extremely excited to be releasing the new Digital Pendulum. Built on the strong designs of the previous model, this represents an unprecedented development in the study of slip resistance and will greatly enhance the process of data capture.

by Ashish Acharya

Energy Security

No longer are renewables the sole preserve of the environmentally minded. Technological advances have improved efficiency and reduced costs, helping to restore faith in the clean energy market. For many, investment in this sector has proved extremely profitable. Countries and corporations are seeking new ways to innovate and rationalize without having to mine, frack or burn.

From Nepal to Spain, Denmark to Peru, renewables are helping enliven economies, increase productivity and save lives. Even China, the world’s naughtiest polluter, has recognised their potential, having pumped US$56 billion into wind and solar projects in 2013 – more than all of Europe combined (source: The Economist). Whilst not to undermine their green agenda, business-savvy China is well aware that continued reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable. Environmental degradation is poisoning the economy as well as its people, making China less attractive to prospective investors. Added to that is the constant fluctuation of fossil fuel prices. It would seem the modern affinity with renewables is related, at least in part, to the search for greater energy security. As the world’s population grows, so too does the demand for electricity. It is high time we explored some of the world’s other great energy sources.

But there is another problem: the world is not yet equipped to deal with such high demand. Billions of people, mostly in remote, rural locations (Sub-Saharan Africa being a prime example), are still without an adequate supply of electricity. Grid power is often inaccessible or simply too expensive. The implications? Work and study are limited to daylight hours (thereby reducing productivity); crimes are easier to commit; food hygiene is a constant challenge because of inadequate (or non-existent) refrigeration; and hospitals are severely limited in scope. Rural poverty often precludes the possibility of electrification, which affects quality of life and, in turn, results in a whole lot of untapped human potential.

Schemes to ‘electrify’ rural areas are by no means a new phenomenon. Major progress has already been made using off-grid photovoltaic and wind systems. Once prohibitively expensive, microgeneration technologies are becoming more accessible, helping to empower (literally) individuals and communities worldwide. Night-time light makes for a safer, more pleasant and productive atmosphere; air quality improves because of reduced reliance on paraffin (kerosene); food can be refrigerated; businesses set up; and difficult agricultural processes mechanized. Where grid power is not a possibility, microgeneration using renewables is a genuine, sustainable solution.

And even where advanced grid networks do exist, basic microgeneration technology enables households and businesses to supplement their existing supply, reducing costs and creating a stronger, more reliable and efficient source of electricity.

The Munro Wind Turbine is a professional-grade turbine. The power generated can be used directly or to charge batteries. It is made of high-grade, corrosion-proof materials and can be used for a broad range of applications.

by Edmund Daley

Weather Preparedness

Exceptionally high winds brought chaos to much of the UK last week. Power cuts, felled trees and extensive travel disruption are just some of the evils wrought by #ScotStorm. As the low pressure system makes its way across the country, the Met Office warns of further disruption over the coming days. The public is advised to stay abreast of any developments in case of emergency.

January’s tempest serves as a reminder that the UK is by no means immune to the vagaries of the weather. The Met Office estimates that around £300 million is spent on repairing wind damage each year; in the case of flooding, that number is closer to a billion (source: Guardian).

Disaster preparedness is more important than ever. We are in the fortunate position of being able to forecast the weather relatively accurately, so why does it keep catching us out? Damaged infrastructure, route impassability, transport delays and hub closures have a major impact on the economy, not to mention public safety. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the country’s ubiquitous flood plains. With plans to increase spending on flood defences, the government is certainly taking steps in the right direction, but there is still great deal more to be done.

A total solution to the country’s meteorological woes is, regrettably, unthinkable. Choppy seas, turbulent skies and sub-zero temperatures will continue to wreak havoc on the nation’s transport systems, kill off livestock and hamper productivity in business and construction. But that is certainly no excuse for inaction. The weather cannot be controlled, but proper preparation and careful management can help mitigate its effect. One solution is to install early warning systems in problem areas. On roads and bridges, weather sensors can be synched with variable-message (matrix) signs to warn vulnerable motorists of high crosswinds and slippery surfaces. In agriculture, farmers can be sent SMS notifications from strategically-positioned sensors, advising them when to relocate livestock. And in construction a similar set-up can be used to forewarn contractors of unfavourable conditions, preventing them from coming to work unnecessarily and thereby savings costs (and lives).

The effect of the weather is felt by all, and it is certainly not enough to rely on forecasted data. Weather monitoring can be used to extremely good effect. Careful analysis of data (both past and present) aids decision-making and can be used by individuals and businesses to overcome dangerous situations and ensure maximum safety and efficiency.

The Munro 150 Series comprises a range of fully automated telemetric weather sensors. The Series allows users to ‘mix and match’ from a range of sensors, providing bespoke weather station functionality. It is suitable for all applications and can be deployed remotely in difficult-to-access areas. Data is exported to our web-based software and can be viewed anywhere in the world. Alarm notifications can be set up when threshold measurements are breached.