Welsh architects create smart house that exports more energy than it uses

The Welsh School of Architecture has produced a prototype low-cost smart house that exports more electricity to the National Grid than it uses.

The three-bedroom Solcer House was designed and built by a team led by Phil Jones, the professor of architectural sciences at the school, which is part of Cardiff University.

As an academic community we have to rise to that challenge and come up with innovative new ways to build houses of the future– Professor Phil Jones, Cardiff University

The design incorporates low-carbon cement, structural insulated panels and insulated external render for the walls. The walls are also fitted with transpired solar collectors – a form of passive heating that uses perforated steel sheets.

The windows are double glazed with low-emissivity glass and, like the doors, made using aluminium-clad wood.  

In addition, the south-facing roof is partly made from glass photovoltaic panels that allow sunlight to pass into the roof space.

The uses solar generation and battery storage to export power to the National Grid for eight months of the year. According to Jones, for every £100 spent on electricity the house will be able to export £170.

The Solcer House was designed and constructed as part of the Wales Low Carbon Research Institute’s project to create an energy positive house by combining reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply and energy storage.

The project is supported by Swansea University’s Sustainable Product Engineering Centre for Innovation in Functional Coatings.

The design was based on the "Buildings as Power Stations" concept developed at Swansea, and uses a number of technologies and design approaches developed by the Low Carbon Institute.

Jones said: "Governments across the EU have set targets for ‘nearly zero’ energy buildings by 2020, and zero-carbon 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."

Edwina Hart, the UK’s economy minister, said: "It is a great showcase for the technologies being developed in Wales, with the potential to be adopted and replicated in future housing developments across the UK creating wide-ranging long-term benefits for the economy, the environment and occupiers."

The Solcer House took 16 weeks to build and was completed in February this year. The house is located on the site of Cenin Renewables in Pyle, south Wales.  

The project has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Wales European Funding Office.

Image via Cardiff University

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  1. would have been curious about the overall cost…

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