Friday, September 28, 2012

Perpetuum mobile

Today we continue to review new energy efficient and ecologically appropriate buildings in North Europe. And now welcome to the smartest Swedish house.

Villa Akarp is the first house of the third generation in Sweden. It produces more energy than uses.

The house owner Karin Adalbert is physicist and has a great interest in “green” technologies. Her house is really stuffed by them. Now Villa Akarp has three functions: it is a house, a museum, and  an advertisement of this project’s partners and of the “green” movement in whole.

Akarp’s architecture is traditional in many aspects. And what is the difference between energy active house and a usual one? There are solar batteries (32 sq. m.) and suntraps (18 sq. m.) producing warmth. Suntraps are very simple: there are a lot of pipes full of special liquid which get the sun warmth. Later this energy goes to the house and heats it up.

Also there is a recuperator which gathers warmth from hot water. Warm air from house passes under the floor. Villa has a big hallway which economizes heat when the doors are opened. At the centre there is a decorated 2000 liter cistern of hot water. Also there is a stove to burn wood waste. Besides that Villa has a good heat insulation. There is a 0.5 meters of special material in the roof and in the walls.

So this cottage produces more energy than it uses. Remainders of energy go for sale. Every year it brings in big revenue of about 2,000 euros. The installation of new technologies costs 60,000 euros and probably this money will be repaid through 30 years.

But there is one disadvantage. Producing and consumption of energy must harmonize in time. For example solar batteries are effective in summer but house needs energy in winter. Or there is daily imbalance. Solar energy comes in the morning and the day hours but lighting is necessary at night too. Therefore the next step is to accumulate warmth and electric energy.
Such houses are supposed to cooperate with the local power grid. But sometimes the house gives energy and sometimes gets it. For electricity it is not profitable now. Probably next year Swedish legislators will pass a law according to which electricity network will pay for energy coming from buildings.

As for Russia such experimental projects is a dream of future.  Only experiments and open research can show advantages and disadvantages of the new building technologies. Our government can promote such projects not only like a good PR-action but also like a real thing which carries away people and investors.

Also it is necessary to make efforts to develop domestic production of recuperators, solar batteries and thermocompressors. Or the energy efficient houses in Russia will be too expensive.

And who can became a participant of experimental projects? For example in Denmark there is a group of companies – materials and technologies producers – which are ready to support ideas like “Villa Akarp”. Besides that the government clearly understands its own aim. Denmark wants to become a world leader in “green” technologies export. Russian developers and landowners think about innovations skeptically.

Russian experience of ecological settlements finds out an interesting fact. People with small budget use innovations more actively than people with a big one. And Stenlose South proves that it is possible to realize experimental project without essential government support.

by Valentin Ivanov

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