Self generation 'could cut energy consumption by 60 per cent'

A new report reveals energy consumption could be cut by more than 60 percent if homes were designed to generate, store and release their own solar energy

The concept has already been proven and is operating successfully on a building in Swansea. The UK’s first energy-positive classroom combines an integrated solar roof and battery storage with solar heat collection on south-facing walls. Over six months of operation the Active Classroom has generated more energy than it has consumed.

The author of the report is independent energy consultant Andris Bankovskis, who also serves as a member of the Panel of Technical Experts, an independent advisory group who are appointed by the government to advice on technical aspects of electricity market reform.

Thereport looks at applying this concept to homes, and analyses the economic and energy impacts that such homes could have in the UK.  

The first major housing development to apply this concept, the Active Homes Neath social housing development, has just been granted planning permission. These will be developed by Swansea University’s SPECIFIC Innovation & Knowledge Centre, who designed and built the classroom. The new development by Pobl Group features solar roofs, shared battery storage and the potential for charging point for electric vehicles. Water heating will come from a solar heat collector on the south facing walls and waste heat is captured and recycled within the building. This use of technology is estimated to reduce household bills by £600 or more.

Analysis shows that building 1m homes like this would have huge national impacts:

• reducing peak generating capacity by 3GW, equivalent to a large central power station;

• reducing carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 80m tonnes over 40 years; and

• potential benefits to the UK economy through investment in a new industry.

Bankovskis said: “The scale of the potential impacts is compelling, and demands that we make considered decisions about how we meet housing needs sustainably. It suggests that if we are prepared to take some bold decisions about the way energy is supplied and used in our homes, the rewards could be significant and lasting. Ofgem and Government have shown welcome leadership recently by consulting on smart energy networks, and it is imperative to move forward with developing these as quickly as possible.”

The report comes just weeks after the Government announced measures to make it easier to store power in batteries and pledged to phase out petrol and diesel engines in cars by 2040. 

Kevin Bygate, chief executive at SPECIFIC, said: “The report shows that households and the country as a whole can benefit if we design our homes to be power stations. The technology works, so what we need now is to build on our partnerships with industry and government and make it happen.”

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