Sixteen social homes designed as mini power stations are now under construction in south Wales.
They will generate around 80% of the energy they consume and slash tenants’ energy bills by at least 50%, reports GCR’s sister publication, BIM+.
Called Active Homes, the homes in Neath will have an airtight structure of prefabricated structural insulated panels (SIPs), and will generate energy from the sun in two ways: a perforated steel "solar wall" soaks up 50% of solar heat energy hitting the surface, and solar photovoltaics on the roof generate electricity.
To boost efficiency, a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery (MVHR) system extracts heat from warm moist air in the kitchen and bathroom and uses it to heat fresh air that enters through vents from outside. The system runs continuously using a small amount of energy from the solar PV and battery.
The project is the result of a partnership between housing organisation Pobl Group, Neath Port Talbot Borough Council and Swansea University’s SPECIFIC Innovation & Knowledge Centre. Pobl invested £1.15m while the Welsh Government contributed £2.65m via two grants.
Active Homes Neath is due for completion next summer, 10 of the houses and flats will be monitored for 12 months post-occupation to gauge how systems are performing.
Image: Render of the completed homes now being built in Neath, south Wales (Pobl Group)
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Slightly unconvinced that the efficiency of the MVHR system will be such a benefit. Given the power to operate the fans could be greater than the benefit from the heat gain from the limited amount of warm moist air.
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