What do you think about so-called surplus energy homes?

We are producing with a standard PV module electricity while at the same time using the thermal heat during operation, we can make a household independent from any use of fossil fuel. Together with a well-insulted long-term thermal energy storage tank, thermal energy is used throughout the year for heating, and other hot water application in a household. What do you think about fostering a so-called SURPLUS-ENERGY-HOME, whereas surplus energy (mostly electric energy) is sold to the public grid of the local utility? – Christian H., Germany

Answer: Surplus Energy Homes, Zero Energy Homes and Net Energy Homes and Ultra Low Energy Homes are the new terms added atop LEEDS certified buildings, Whole Buildings, Green Buildings, and Sustainable Buildings. All these concepts share the basic premise: use design and orientation, materials (recycled if possible), ‘maximum practical’ energy efficiency (materials, appliances, components and fixtures), and add on-site clean distributed energy (advanced batteries, ground-coupled heat pumps, photovoltaics, small wind, solar thermal, etc….. and possibly microhydropower, modular biomass, and even fuel cells, etc…) to meet the remaining load as practical and as your pocket book dictates. We have numerous examples of tens of thousands of near-to-zero energy buildings in the United States and all over the world. Ideas to hybridize photovoltaics and solar thermal, to link distributed generation to compressors for heating and cooling, and to design smart building and interconnection strategies to lower costs of installation and improve operation quality and aesthetics — are beginning to proliferate in the marketplace. Some examples of these innovations include UniSolar’s solar roofing shingles and ‘peal and stick’ panels for metal-seamed roofs as well as Sharp Solar’s solar roofing approach with traditional rectangular and now triangular modules, and GridPoint’s new “smart” battery bank that embeds aesthetics, functionality, and smart electronics in one consumer friendly package. I can’t name every great product, but integrating technologies to the maximum extent practical is the way to go for low or zero energy buildings. – Scott
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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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