Energy bills could be cut by more than 60% – saving the average household over £600 a year — if homes were designed to generate, store and release their own solar energy, a report published today has revealed.
The concept has already been proven and is operating successfully on a building in Swansea: the UK’s first energy-positive classroom. It combines an integrated solar roof and battery storage with solar heat collection on south-facing walls. Over 6 months of operation the Active Classroom has generated more energy than it has consumed.
Today’s report looks at applying this concept to homes, and analyses the economic and energy impacts that such homes could have in the UK.
The report is based on designs for the Active Homes Neath social housing development, which was granted planning permission today / is currently in planning. This is the first major housing development to use the ‘buildings as power stations’ approach to technology integration and specification, developed by Swansea University’s SPECIFIC Innovation & Knowledge Centre, which designed and built the classroom.
The new development by Pobl Group, the largest housing association in Wales, features solar roofs, shared battery storage and the potential for charging points for electric vehicles. Water heating comes from a solar heat collector on south facing walls. Waste heat is captured and recycled within the building. The combined technologies will help to keep bills down.
The report shows that homes with these technologies could see household energy bills reduced by 60%.
In addition to consumer benefits, the analysis also shows that building 1 million homes like this would have huge national impacts, including:
- Reducing peak generating capacity by 3 gigawatts, equivalent to a large central power station.
- Reducing carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 80 million tonnes over 40 years.
- Potential benefits to the UK economy through investment in a new industry
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 advise on technical aspects of electricity market reform.
Andris Bankovskis, energy expert and report author, 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.”
Materials provided by Swansea University.