Our main focus with Altima is to provide a convenient but accurate platform for consumers and businesses to introduce alternative energy sources in their homes and offices. For many, the switch to alternative energy comes with large uncertainties surrounding performance; people often blindly invest in solar energy without realizing how inefficient it is for their region.
What it does
Using environmental data spanning over a year for any selected region, Altima can determine the efficiency rating of both solar and wind generators and combine it with average installation costs to provide its users with the ultimate alternative energy source. Users are also able to create accounts to save previously visited locations in a log, making it easy to choose the most cost-efficient region.
How we built it
Our project was constructed using a combination of Flask, Next.JS, React, and CockroachDB. With the use of Mapbox, we first implemented an interactive map and location selector. In addition, we accessed an open-source database of global weather data specific to each region. With the raw software and data implemented, the next step was to correctly determine which alternative energy source would be more ideal for a given region; research was done to determine how specific weather conditions like temperature and humidity affected energy production, as well as quantitative figures for both cost per kWh and efficiency ratings. Finally, the user interface was improved by including accounts and saving user data.
Challenges we ran into
One of the challenges our team faced during the project was the method by which to evaluate an energy source’s efficiency factor. While the average solar energy generator performs at 75% efficiency, for example, this deductor is subject to change depending on the region’s weather. Using data from scientific papers such as the impact of temperature on energy generation, we compared the relative effects of each environmental factor to quantitatively rank their significance, then implemented this weighted average into a simple cost per kWh for the user to see. Another challenge we faced was finding an open-source weather API with enough historical data. Many API sources that provide weather data are often paid SaaS, whereas the API we found utilizes a crowdsourced approach to data collection and is hosted on community servers.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Our proudest accomplishment in the creation of Altima was the efficiency at which we worked. Proper time management, as well as task distribution, were key to our success. Within an hour of the project’s commencement, we discussed our strengths and determined a timeline of events. Working on the front-end and back-end in tandem with one another as well as researching and preparing the efficiency equations before implementing them in the code allowed us to complete the project far faster and gave us leeway to fix mistakes and refine ideas.
What we learned
An important lesson we learned in our time with Altima is to seek feedback, even during the creation phase. Even with a team of four people, it is common to overlook project aspects. In our case, when we took a break from our project to visit the panels, we spoke with many mentors and discussed what we had accomplished thus far. In our conversation with an RBC representative, we were given the idea to implement a user interface to add personalization and a better overall user experience. Without taking a step back from working and speaking with others, we never would have thought to improve the user interface for Altima and it ultimately would not be as polished as it is now.
What's next for ALTIMA
Going forward, we hope to implement more alternative energy sources in our regional analyses. Some alternative energy sources are locked to certain geographical regions, such as geothermal vents; others require multiple layers of thinking, such as hydropower requiring water, changes in elevation, and proper humidity. While solar and wind energy are generally the only options pursued by the general consumer today, we hope that with Altima, it may one day be possible to conveniently see the benefits of other alternative energy sources and ultimately move towards a net-zero world.
Teammate badge IDs:
- Khalid Zabalawi: bay-season-outhouse-team
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