Located on the Vermilion campus, the Renewable Energy Cabin is an on-line laboratory for students in our Renewable Energy and Conservation Program
. The on-line students have access to this practical hands-on lab via the internet.
The Energy Cabin operates completely off-grid and has 1.75 kW of solar photovoltaic panels, about 2000 W of solar evacuated hot water collectors, a solar hot air recirculation collector on the south wall, and a 3 kW wind turbine. The solar thermal heat is used to supplement space heating in the building using hot water and hot air collectors.
Once the physical structure of the energy cabin was built, researchers developed a custom-built data acquisition system to provide real-time information on a live website that can be accessed by renewable energy students and the public. Instant readings of weather conditions, energy systems performance, building heat loss, and energy consumption are all available at the click of a button.
Data collected over many seasons and years can be used to perform an economic analysis of the system. The system was designed to be flexible and allow reconfiguration for future applied research projects.
Web information on the Renewable Energy Cabin is available to support student activities as well as provide Lakeland researchers with valuable information about the viability of using renewable technologies at Vermilion’s geographic location. It is also available to the public in a format that is easy to use.
Rob Baron, instructor in the renewable energy program, says, “While anyone can access the information, and see the changes in energy production between sunny and cloudy days, for example, my students can also use the data for deeper studies, comparing outputs to product claims in the renewable energy industry.” Students can test the behavior of the equipment in real-life situations and determine ways to improve efficiency.
The Alberta Association of Colleges and Technical Institutes provided funding for constructing and equipping the Renewable eCabin.