The UK’s first fully solar-powered new-build home has been completed in Great Glen, Leicestershire by sustainability specialists Caplin Homes.
Set to exceed the requirements of the government’s 2016 zero-carbon target, the house is designed to collect enough solar energy to provide heating and hot water, and around twice the electricity needed to run the system. The Solar House uses an innovative combination of existing sustainable technologies to collect and store solar energy for use throughout the year.
Built as an exemplar project, it is expected that the Solar House will demonstrate to members of the trade that zero-carbon house building is possible, affordable and economically viable. Following the completion and sale of the 5-bedroom property, Caplin Homes and the consortium behind the house’s construction will offer out-of-the-box, scalable solutions for house builders.
Michael Goddard, director of Caplin Homes commented: “We want to prove that government targets are achievable and that genuine zero-carbon homes are a viable investment for UK house builders. The Solar House shows how existing technologies can be used for a large family home but we plan to offer solutions for all house sizes.”
The key technologies utilised in the project include an array of hybrid solar panels, which collect both electrical and thermal energy, solar walls to pre-heat the incoming ventilation air, and an Earth Energy Bank (EEB) and heat pump to store and retrieve heat for use in winter. Excess energy collected during warmer months will be stored underneath the house in the EEB and pumped back to heat the home in winter.
A large number of south facing triple glazed windows will also enhance the house’s performance during winter months. The technologies will be managed by a state-of-the art control system, which takes into account the inside and outside temperatures, the energy flow from the solar panels, and the heat levels in the EEB and domestic hot water tank, to optimise the performance of the system.
Due to its low energy design, the Solar House is expected to only require heat from the EEB for about 10 weeks of the year.
Michael added: “Energy bills are steadily increasing so for the householder, the zero-carbon home is an exciting prospect. Hopefully the Solar House will prove that it is also an achievable and desirable step for house builders.”
The project has been completed by a consortium of sustainability specialists, including Caplin Homes; Newform Energy, which provided the hybrid solar panels, heat pump and control system; John Cotterill Sustainable Architecture and De Montfort University. As part of the project, an MSc research student from De Montfort will monitor the Solar House’s performance over its first 12 months.
Dr Andrew Wright, of De Montfort University’s Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development, said: “So far the calculations suggest that the Solar House will perform well, so we’re looking forward to starting our analyses once the house is occupied. We’re very proud to have been asked to join the project and act as an independent assessor of its zero-carbon status. The house building industry has to move towards more energy efficient living if it is to meet government targets and the Solar House project could be a landmark stage in that process.”
Caplin Homes is now seeking a buyer for the five-bedroom home, which is located on two acres of land in rural Leicestershire.