The model for an energy-resilient solar-powered community in the UK has begun with an energy-positive building that powers itself. The concept could genuinely revolutionize not only the construction sector but could completely change how buildings create and use energ
The UK’s model energy-positive project, called The Active Office, produced more than 150% of the energy it consumed by combining a range of innovative technologies. It generates, stores, and releases solar energy in one integrated system. Technologies include a curved roof with integrated solar cells, a photovoltaic thermal system capable of generating both heat and electricity from the sun in one dynamic, lithium ion batteries to store the electricity, and a 2,000 liter water tank to contain solar heat.
Why Energy-Positive Buildings Are So Important
Buildings currently account for around 40% of the UK’s energy consumption. Offices are enormous consumers of energy, so turning them energy-positive has the potential to slash fuel bills and dramatically reduce their carbon emissions. This new building points the way to a new generation of low-carbon offices which produce their own supply of clean energy.
Energy-positive buildings can mean lower energy costs for the consumer as well as less need for peak central power generating capacity. With associated reduction in stress on the national grid, they can lead to improved energy security and reduced carbon emissions.
The Active Office has been designed to be easy to reproduce. It is quick to build, taking only one week to assemble, with much of the construction taking place off site. It also uses only technologies that are commercially available now and transferable to use on any new building.
Professor Dave Worsley, Research Director for SPECIFIC and Swansea University College of Engineering, says their research focuses on “developing solar technologies and the processing techniques, proving the ‘buildings as power stations’ concept in real buildings, which are used every day.”
Government Support Can Lead the Way to Energy-Positive Buildings
Contemporary industrial strategies to create clean growth will help the UK to fulfill their mission to halve the emissions of new buildings by 2030. Research and innovation stimulates economies like in the UK, so the government there has been a supporter of the project, awarding £800,000 of funding towards it via Innovate UK.
Ian Campbell, Executive Chair of Innovate UK, said, “It’s difficult to overstate the potential of developing a building that powers itself.”
The Active Office was funded by Innovate UK, with support from Swansea University and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. It is sponsored by Tata Steel and Cisco. The Swansea Bay City Region deal is expected to deliver more than 9,000 jobs and £1.3 billion of investment across the region.
Shout out to Science News, June, 2018 edition