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Turning homes into power stations could cut bills by £600

10 August 2017

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

Artist’s impressions of the Active Homes Neath development (Credit: SPECIFIC Innovation & Knowledge Centre)

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 six months of operation the Active Classroom has generated more energy than it has consumed.

The new report 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 one million homes like this would have huge national impacts:

• Reducing peak generating capacity by three 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 advice on technical aspects of electricity market reform.

How energy generated by your house could charge up your car (Credit: Swansea University)

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.” 

“Active Homes Neath has been designed under a standard design-and-build contract, which means it can be replicated at scale. We have every reason to believe that a cleaner, cheaper energy future awaits us all.”

The 16 new homes are being developed in partnership with Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council. It is a flagship scheme within the Homes as Power Stations project in the Swansea Bay City Deal, a £1.3 billion investment into the region signed by Prime Minister Theresa May in March. Residents are scheduled to move in in Spring 2019.

Read the full report here.

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