Turbine Tree – Merry Christmas!


Shown above is a virtual “Turbine Tree” built as part of the onSupply project. It uses historical data and live output data from the Lancaster University Wind turbine to dynamically show the availability of low carbon energy on campus through the colour of its lights. The tree replays the turbine output for the previous 24 hours before showing live data:

  • If the lights are green then the turbine is at full whack, ~2.5MW output.
  • If the lights are red then the turbine has low output.
  • If the lights are blue then the turbine is not sending data; likely it is down for maintenance.

The tree can also be seen in the iLancaster mobile app for staff and students – head to your app store to download or use online at iLancaster.lancs.ac.uk. Tree data is supplied by ISS.

Merry Christmas from all of us in the Catalyst team 🙂

6 thoughts on “Turbine Tree – Merry Christmas!

  1. Pingback:Turbine Tree | @willsimm

  2. keith sowden

    Thanks, Debbie, and all the best to the people at Catalyst. I’m not sure whether the choice of a tree connected to the University turbine is very welcome to a Lancaster councillor…..we are the people who get all the complaints from the public ( and the public are our voters ) about ugly, noisy, intrusive, inefficient bird-choppers which cost electricity users three times the price of other electricity supplies, and which require the same amount of non-alternative infrastructure for when the wind doesn’t blow.

    1. catalysta

      Hi Keith,

      Merry Christmas to Lancaster City Council on behalf of the Catalyst Team at Lancaster University.

      The project we are currently working on has a great deal to do with sustainability (thus why we are using data obtained from the wind turbine on campus), and although the efficiency and impact of wind turbines is arguable, it presented a great opportunity to visualise energy data available to us.

      Regardless of a person’s opinion of wind power, I feel that the visualisation of this data can only be useful and does not present anything objectionable. Please feel free to contact me personally should you wish to discuss this further – I am always willing to talk about our work.

      Kind regards,

      Peter Newman (Catalyst Team RA)

    2. Will Simm Post author

      As a society we have a need to reduce our impact on our planets climate. There is substantial evidence that the release of carbon (by humans) into the atmosphere is contributing to global warming and affecting ecosystems. If we are to sustain life as we know it on earth we need to slash our carbon output and make the switch to low carbon energy. When we start to experience the impact on our quality of life it may be too late (some models predict as little as 15 years time at current rates of growth), we need to act now and build resilience into our energy supplies and our economy for a low carbon future.

      Our governance including local Councils have the major role to play in addressing this, and we require strong representation to inform mindsets that have fuelled growth.

      Renewable energy sources that rely on the weather may feature strongly in the make up of future energy supply, these have their own availability timescales – they are not available “on tap”. These sources will require us to make compromises we are not used to making.

      This tree represents the changing availability of one renewable source of energy, and provides an ambient display which intends to place in mind the live availability of low carbon energy, allowing people to make an informed, smart decision on when is an appropriate time to use energy,

  3. Jane Attfield

    Great idea – pretty lights and a good way to inform and educate us “public” about the viability of wind turbines – will you be keeping it up all year (perhaps with a different tree)? This way we can monitor how often it is at full whack and make a more informed decision?

    1. catalysta

      Hi Jane,

      We have no plans to remove the digital visualisation of the Christmas tree, so it should be available throughout the year. As for keeping the visualisation relevant, we are likely to update it at some point in the new year to better reflect the time of year (although the tree does keep us rather festive).

      If you are interested in the visualisation of energy production in the UK, you might be interested in http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ – this website shows a breakdown (in almost real time) of the energy infrastructure of the UK.

      Kind regards,

      Peter Newman (Catalyst Team RA)

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