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UK’s first Solar House

UK’s first Solar House is to be built in Leicestershire

The UK’s first ‘Solar House’ to be entirely heated by the sun’s energy all year round has recently been completed. The exceptional nature of the project has enabled Caplin Homes to secure planning consent in a quite outstanding location on the edge of Stackley Park. The Solar House is set in approximately two acres where many ecological features are incorporated. Planning approval for this innovative project was granted by Harborough District Council in December 2012 on the grounds that “the proposal features an innovative combination of solar technologies which result in a truly outstanding and innovative technological design which will help raise standards of technological design more generally and as such is worthy of support.”

As well as its cutting edge technology, the house is a fine example of contemporary architecture. . The entire South elevation is clad in triple glazed glass taking full advantage of the fabulous views. A particularly striking feature will be the array of solar panels on a roof canopy bordered by areas of living vegetation and bronze metallic solar wall panels. The accommodation is arranged around a spectacular central atrium that will rise through the full height of the house and there are stunning panoramic views from all the principal rooms.

The principles governing the design of the Solar House are both novel and simple. Solar energy collected in summer is stored by heating the ground beneath the building. This energy is then retrieved through a heat pump when needed in the winter. Hybrid solar panels collect both enough heat from the sun to provide heating and hot water and twice the electricity needed to run the system. The house’s ability to generate more energy than it uses means that it will be one of the few house in the country to achieve zero carbon status.

The main aim of the project is to demonstrate to the building industry that it is possible to build housing with Zero Carbon status that is commercially viable.

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. The project has been managed by a consortium led by Caplin Homes, who have developed the patented energy storage technology, Newform Energy who provide the solar collectors, heat pump and control system, John Cotterill of Sustainable Architecture, who has designed the house and De Montfort University who will provide consultancy support and assist with project management. The University will also act as an independent and respected assessor of the building’s performance and will publish the outcome of their analysis so that the results can be publicly available.

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 team have a missionary zeal about promoting solar energy as the only truly sustainable energy source. It is clean, reliable, and infinitely available and is the only fuel which is completely free of charge at the point of use. The trick that their patented technology has achieved is to capture this energy in summer when it is abundantly available, but not much needed, and store it for use in winter when it is. The house is predicted to be self sufficient in energy for 42 weeks of the year, only requiring support from the energy store during the remaining 10 weeks.

De Montfort University will publish an interim performance report in April 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.

If you would like to see some floor plans please click on the links below:

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