16 July 2015

First full scale ‘Building as a Power Station’ opened

The house has been designed and built by Professor Phil Jones and his team based at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, using SPECIFIC’s ‘Buildings as Power Stations’ concept.

The design combines, for the first time, reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply and energy storage to create an energy positive house, which is capable of exporting more energy to the grid than it uses. Electrical and thermal storage have also been used to allow energy generated at the house to be used directly by the occupiers.

The house was designed and constructed as part of the Wales Low Carbon Research Institute’s (LCRI) SOLCER project, in partnership with SPECIFIC. Kevin Bygate, Chief Executive of SPECIFIC, said “Buildings that can generate, store and release their own renewable energy could be a game-changer. The SOLCER House is intentionally built with best off-the-shelf, affordable technologies, so it proves what’s possible now – and there’s plenty more technology in the pipeline.”

In order to drastically reduce the energy demand, the house was built with high levels of thermal insulation, reducing air leakage, and uses an innovative energy efficient design which includes low carbon cement, structural insulated panels (SIPS), external insulated render, transpired solar collectors and low emissivity double glazed aluminium clad timber frame windows and doors. The south facing roof comprises of glazed solar photovoltaic panels, fully integrated into the design of the building, allowing the roof space below to be naturally lit. This has been designed to reduce the cost of bolting on solar panels to a standard roof. The house’s energy systems combine solar generation and battery storage to power both its combined heating, ventilation, hot water system and its electrical power systems which includes appliances, LED lighting and heat pump. The TSC solar air system preheats the ventilation air which is topped up from a thermal water store.

Professor Jones adds: “Now the house has been built our key task is to ensure that all of the measures that we have put in place are monitored to ensure the most energy efficient use. We will use this information to inform future projects with the aim of ensuring that Wales remains at the heart of the development of a zero carbon housing future. The building demonstrates our leading edge low carbon supply, storage and demand technologies at a domestic scale which we hope will be replicated in other areas of Wales and the UK in the future.”


The SOLCER House took a total of 16 weeks to construct and was completed in February, 2015. It is situated on the site of Cenin Renewables Ltd in Pyle, near Bridgend.

The construction of the house was funded by ERDF through the Welsh European Funding Organisation (WEFO) as part of the Wales Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI) Low Carbon Built Environment (LCBE) research programme.

A range of partners has helped to deliver the project, including local suppliers and multi-national companies.

Further information on the SOLCER project is available at: www.solcer.org and @lowcarbon_house


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