Passive House & Renewable Energy

Micro renewables such as solar photovoltaic panels are a sound application for any building. However, on a Passive House they can provide an even greater benefit as they can provide a far higher percentage of the energy that the building requires.

Passive House Plus and Premium

Solar_for_your_homeThe Passive House standard addresses energy efficiency, though at certification a building can achieve a higher level of recognition of Passive House Plus or Passive House Premium. Passive House Plus means that the building is almost balanced between energy use and energy generation. Passive House Premium is a building that produces a surplus. With the low energy requirements of a Passive House, this is certainly feasible.

Renewables in Winter

The difficulty with much renewable energy generation is that it is most difficult to produce energy when it is most needed e.g. Winter. Solar irradiance reduces during these months and hydroelectric can reduce as water freezes or turns to snow. As such renewables can only be a viable option for meeting our energy needs if we reduce the demand first. Due to the efficiency of Passive House, this energy requirement can be met through a variety of sustainable sources.

Approaching Passive House with renewables

The best approach to decreasing your carbon footprint and building your resiliency to energy prices is to reduce your demand first and seek to generate your demand second. For example, there is little point in covering a roof in solar photovoltaics if the roof is going to haemorrhage heat/energy. As energy storage becomes more affordable and efficient, a Passive House Premium certification is more and more achievable. The initial market surge in Solar PV in the UK (starting in 2010) was largely focused on making money out of the Feed-In Tariffs. Now, the reduction of demand is key with renewables being used to reduce the amount of electricity that buildings need to import. Renewable energy is a key part of a sustainable future, though that must coincide with a reduced demand. The fabric first approach of Passive House is a sure way to future proofed buildings with a zero or positive energy balance.