The present paper describes experiences of the use of monitoring and data acquisition systems (DAS) and proposes a new concept of a low cost DAS applied to decentralized renewable energy (RE) plants with an USB interface. The use of such systems contributes to disseminate these plants, recognizing in real time local energy resources, monitoring energy conversion efficiency and sending information concerning failures. These aspects are important, mainly for developing countries, where decentralized power plants based on renewable sources are in some cases the best option for supplying electricity to rural areas. Nevertheless, the cost of commercial DAS is still a barrier for a greater dissemination of such systems in developing countries. The proposed USB based DAS presents a new dual clock operation philosophy, in which the acquisition system contains two clock sources for parallel information processing from different communication protocols. To ensure the low cost of the DAS and to promote the dissemination of this technology in developing countries, the proposed data acquisition firmware and the software for USB microcontrollers programming is a free and open source software, executable in the Linux and Windows® operating systems.
Keywords: data acquisition systems; monitoring; renewable energy.