SOLCER House – Smart Operation for Low Carbon Energy Regions

Energy efficient design means more energy for the national grid.

Designed by the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University, the SOLCER house is the UK’s first purpose-built, low-cost energy house, capable of exporting more energy to the national electricity grid than it uses.  The house has been built as a prototype to meet tough targets for zero carbon housing set by UK Government and was officially launched by Edwina Hart AM, The Minister for Economy, Science and Transport on 16th July 2015.  Designed and constructed as part of the Wales Low Carbon Research Institute’s (LCRI) SOLCER and Low Carbon Built Environment (LCBE) projects, and supported by SPECIFIC at Swansea University, its unique design combines for the first time reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply and energy storage to create an energy positive house.

Solcer House Cenin Renewables

To reduce energy demand, the house was built with high levels of thermal insulation, reducing air leakage, and uses an innovative energy efficient design which includes low carbon cement, structural insulated panels (SIPS), external insulated render, transpired solar collectors and low emissivity double glazed aluminium clad timber frame windows and doors.  The south facing roof comprises of glazed solar photovoltaic panels, fully integrated into the design of the building, allowing the roof space below to be naturally lit. This has been designed to reduce the cost of bolting on solar panels to a standard roof. The house’s energy systems combine solar generation and battery storage to power both its combined heating, ventilation, hot water system and its electrical power systems which includes appliances, LED lighting and heat pump. The TSC solar air system preheats the ventilation air which is topped up from a thermal water store.

“The Welsh and UK Governments – and governments across the EU – have set targets for very low ‘nearly zero’ energy buildings by 2020, and zero carbon new housing can deliver this and more. This means that as an academic community we have to rise to that challenge and come-up with innovative new ways to build houses of the future.  Through this project we have risen to this challenge and used the latest design and technology to build an energy positive house. This is the first house in the UK that has been purposely built, using a systems approach, to be carbon positive.  Zero carbon energy performance involves a combination of reduced energy demand and renewable energy supply, using the electricity grid to import and export energy. Electrical and thermal storage have also been used to allow energy generated at the house to be used directly by the occupiers.”
Professor Phil Jones (Cardiff University)

The design of the SOLCER House follows the ‘Buildings as Power Stations’ concept developed by the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre and is unique in that it uses a number of technologies and design approaches developed by the LCRI’s Low Carbon Buildings Research Programme.  It took 16 weeks to construct and was completed in February, 2015.  The project was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Wales European Funding Office.