Architecture

Smart low-carbon Solcer House generates more electricity than it uses

Smart low-carbon Solcer House ...
The Solcer House's energy-positive status is achieved by way of reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply and storing energy for later use
The Solcer House's energy-positive status is achieved by way of reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply and storing energy for later use
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The Solcer House's energy-positive status is achieved by way of reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply and storing energy for later use
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The Solcer House's energy-positive status is achieved by way of reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply and storing energy for later use
Electricity is imported from the grid when required and exported to the grid when there is a surplus
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Electricity is imported from the grid when required and exported to the grid when there is a surplus

A Welsh university claims to have built the UK’s first low-cost, low-carbon, energy-positive house. The Solcer House was built by Cardiff University’s Solcer Project, part of the LCRI Program (Low Carbon Research Institute). It was designed as a prototype with off-the-shelf technologies to show how low-carbon targets could be met.

The house is located in Pyle near Bridgend and follows the "Buildings as Power Stations" concept developed by the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre.

Energy-positive status is achieved by way of reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply and storing energy for later use. Electricity is also imported from the grid when required and exported to the grid when there is a surplus.

Low-carbon cement was used for the construction of the Solcer House. To reduce its demand for energy, the house has high levels of thermal insulation, structural insulated panels (SIPS), external insulation and low-emissivity double-glazed aluminum-clad timber frame windows and doors.

Electricity is imported from the grid when required and exported to the grid when there is a surplus
Electricity is imported from the grid when required and exported to the grid when there is a surplus

Transpired solar collectors (TSC) are also employed. These comprise a perforated skin on the exterior of the house that draws air into the cavity and warms it via the sun's rays. It is then drawn into the house as a low-cost means of heating via ventilation.

Electricity is generated by way of a 4.3 kWp glazed photovoltaic solar panel array. This is fully integrated into the south-facing roof of the house, eliminating the need to have it bolted on. Energy that is not immediately required is stored in the house's 6.9-kWh battery. Electricity generated and stored is used to power the heating, ventilation, hot water system and household appliances.

The Solcer House took 16 weeks to build and was completed in February this year.

The video below shows the construction of the Solcer House.

Source: SPECIFIC

LOW CARBON ARCHITECTURE - Solcer house construction. Video produced by Ester Coma

7 comments
Chizzy
my first thought was that tons of solar panels do not make a house low carbon. so glad to see the video showing that the solar panels behind the house are a different project. the attic conservatory with its pv glass roof is a startlingly architectural feature that I hope to see more of in the future.
Freyr Gunnar
> Electricity is generated by way of a 4.3 kWp glazed photovoltaic solar panel array
How are those PV solar panels manufactured?
Do they grow on trees?
minivini
I love to see stuff like this, but it's an impotent academic exercise without hard information like tangible construction costs.
Is this a viable construction project for an "average" home buyer - assuming proper technicians can be found? Is is cost prohibitive, or only expensive at this point? Are the construction techniques more or less traditional?
Craig Jennings
And it looks nicely laid out inside. Looks nice free standing, I bet it'd look a mess all stacked side by side, but with a small gap would look sweet :) Aluminium clad frames? So using timber instead of uPVC and Aluminum as a protective cladding instead of stupid heat sink joinery? I'm a bit lost on that to be honest, would be cool to see further. Annnnnnnnnd...... If you're concerned that it took carbon to create solar cells consider this home WILL use power. It can either have a bit of copper connected to it and USE carbon bit by bit or it can use A LOT now, and offset that later. And the most important part to remember about the "Carbon used to make solar panels" whine, is that it comes from FOSSIL fuels. It's like investing your lotto winnings and living off the interest for ever and being ridiculed by those who've blown it in one go.
Don Duncan
Heating water with electricity? Why? At what cost? Isn't that expensive, inefficient?
What is the premium over standard construction? What is the maintenance cost?
Are these people concerned about practicality? Or primarily a low carbon footprint?
I don't buy "carbon bad" theory, so I am not going to sacrifice for it. I am concerned with energy independence as part of my overall self reliance strategy.
The grid is a tenicle of centralized control.
StWils
In the early 70s a house was built on the Rochester Institute of Technology grounds to "showcase" early ideas about solar design. The regional power company, Rochester Gas & Electric participated in this exercise but on my first walk through it was clear that this house was intended, (by RGE), to show that this alternative energy stuff was nonsense. I have been pleased to see that over the decades much has changed for the better. That said, this ugly little building is no harbinger of the future. Design exercises like this are a valid classroom tool and opportunity to benchmark systems but desperately need to include competent architects with actual art skills. Buildings built from used shipping "Twenty Foot Equivalent" containers are only somewhat uglier than this box. One of the saving graces of this box is that it is probably well instrumented and some useful knowledge can be gleaned from the construction choices. Knowledge that can be used by actual architects to build appealing buildings across a real scale of sizes & uses.
Sagraia
Uk's first eco this and that ... how many are there? This one does have a very neat set of glazed PV modules - great idea. Otherwise nothing particularly new. Do you just ache to live in it though? Mmmm Surely the supported lifestyle of the place must have a say in the design. A similar concept on The Original Twist Eco house which is much prettier and modern looking and probably a dream to live in.