‘Country’s first solar home’ to be built in Great Glen

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A ‘solar house’ - solely heated by the sun’s energy all year round - is to be built in Great Glen in what is believed to be a first in this country.

Solar energy collected in summer will be stored by heating the ground beneath the building and this energy will be retrieved through a heat pump when needed in the winter.

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Hybrid solar panels will collect enough heat from the sun to provide heating and hot water and twice the electricity needed to run the system.

This enables the home - being called the Solar House - to achieve ‘zero carbon’ status, generating more energy than it uses, say Caplin Homes, who will build it.

The detached two-storey house, situated on a two-acre site - will feature innovative architecture including solar panels on a roof canopy bordered by areas of living sedum - a plant which helps keeps the roof waterproof.

Bronze metallic solar wall panels will pre-heat the incoming ventilation air.

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There will also be large numbers of south facing triple glazed windows.

The Solar House’s groundbreaking technology has put it in line for support from the Department for Energy and Climate Change under their “Energy Entrepreneurs Fund”.

The fund rewards innovative UK sustainability projects with funding assistance and a decision on the Solar House is expected this month.

Michael Goddard, a director of Caplin Homes, said: “We are very excited to have been given the green light to build the Solar House and to demonstrate that Zero Carbon living can be achieved at reasonable cost.

“Our ambition is to prove to UK house builders that it is possible for them to build houses to these standards and to provide them with the means to do so. This will make a significant contribution to our country meeting its 2020 carbon reduction targets and enable householders to be set free from ever increasing energy bills.”

The firm says the main aim of the project is to demonstrate to the building industry it is possible to build housing that is zero carbon and still remains commercially attractive.

The elimination of energy costs are expected to provide at least a 10 per cent return on the capital costs of the technology, it says.

The house is predicted to be self sufficient in energy for most of the year, only requiring support from the energy store during ten weeks in the winter months.

Building work on the Solar House will start this month and will be completed by August.

The energy flows in the house will be intensively monitored by a full time MSc student from the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development at De Montfort University for the first full year of its life.

Dr Andrew Wright, of De Montfort University’s Institute of Sustainable Energy and Development (IESD), said: “De Montfort University will provide consultancy support and assist with project management, act as an independent assessor of the building’s performance and will make the results of their analysis available to the public.

“We are delighted to play such a key role in this important project which could prove a milestone in energy efficient living.”

The project will be managed by a consortium consisting of Caplin Homes, which has developed the patented energy storage technology, Newform Energy which provides the solar collectors, heat pump and control system, John Cotterill Sustainable Architecture, which has designed the house and De Montfort University which will provide consultancy support and assist with project management.

The University will also act as an independent assessor of the building’s performance and will make the results of their analysis available in the public domain.

When the house is completed in August the consortium will stage a number of seminars catering for various interest groups.

These will be held in the house itself with the technology on display to those attending the events.

De Montfort University will publish an interim performance report in April 2014 and a full 12 months analysis the following August.

The expectation is that the technology will be rolled out into the building industry through a number of pilot projects partnered with house builders.