Britain's first 'carbon-positive' house opens in Wales
The UK's first purpose-built, energy-positive house has opened in Wales, just days after the Government announced it was scrapping energy efficiency targets for new homes.
Unveiled today (16 July), the house is Britain’s first purpose-built, low-cost energy smart house, capable of exporting more energy to the grid than it uses.
The 'smart energy' house was originally constructed as part of the Solcer project, led by experts from the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University, as a prototype to meet zero carbon housing targets set by the Government.
The house, which cost around £120,000 to build, was built with energy efficiency at its core and renewable capacity built into the house.
The structure has roof mounted solar panels, solar photovoltaics integrated into the windows and wall-mounted power storage batteries. The house also features a solar heat collector, using the sun's energy to warm air for a ventilation system and a heat recovery system to heat the water.
The project was initially intended to showcase how houses could meet the Government's planned zero-carbon housing targets. However, these targets were shelved last week as part of Chancellor George Osborne’s Productivity Plan.
Professor Phil Jones, who leads the Solcer House project, said: “Through this project, we have risen to this challenge and used the latest design and technology to build a smart energy positive house. This is the first house in the UK that has been purposely built, using a systems approach, to be carbon-positive.”
The house provides an energy positive system, over the year the house imports energy from the grid in poor weather but exports energy to the grid on sunny days, providing an export to import ration of 1.75.
Welsh Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “I am delighted to see Wales leading the UK with the launch of this unique property which has the distinction of being the first building of its kind in the UK.
“It is a great showcase for the technologies being developed in Wales, with the potential to be adopted and replicated in future housing developments across the UK creating wide ranging long-term benefits for the economy, the environment and occupiers."
The designers added they were planning to explore how increasing the density of solar cells could generate more electricity, as well as examining how to move on to building interconnected buildings.
Professor Jones added: “We want to replicate this at scale. We are looking now at how we can extend this to larger housing projects as well as to other building types.”
Last week, green groups criticised the Conservative Government for ending ‘zero carbon’ plans for future UK homes. The Treasury announced it would be scrapping plans to improve energy efficiency standards in a big to cut regulation on house building.