‘Zero-Energy House’
With Zero Carbon Emissions and Zero Electricity!
Aug, 2020

Cities around the world are implementing policies for building Zero-Energy Houses to reduce carbon emissions and lower energy consumption. We take a closer look at Zero-Energy Houses and towns in those countries in which protecting the earth has become a popular pastime. 

 ‘Zero-Energy House’ with zero carbon emissions 

The winds of change are blowing through housing markets all over the world to address climate change and energy consumption issues. Zero-Energy Housing, which minimizes carbon emission and provides comfort in residential space at the same time, is enjoying a meteoric rise. A Zero-Energy House refers to a building with zero carbon emissions when consuming energy.

Zero-Energy Houses are broadly classified as ‘Passive Houses’ and ‘Active Houses’. A passive house is housing that reduces energy loss by utilizing insulation and the structure of the building. It is called ‘Passive House’ as it does not use a mechanical heating/cooling system but maintains as much existing energy as possible. It is easy to understand if you think about the principle of a Thermos bottle. The reason cold ice water and hot coffee can maintain their initial temperatures for a long time is because of the bottle’s excellent insulation. The passive building itself maintains a pleasant indoor temperature without the artificial supply of energy generated through a heating system. It gets a lot of sunlight, since it is normally built facing south and with state-of-the-art insulation methods, energy efficient triple-pane windows, and airtightness, which blocks air leakage(properties where vapor, such as air or gas, cannot pass through. The higher the airtightness, the higher the heating efficiency), are applied to the building. 

An Active House is a residential building that independently produces energy required for daily life, utilizing new & renewable energy sources such as sunlight, water heat, geothermal heat, wind power, etc. A residence that actively utilizes solar heat is also called an ‘Active Solar House’.  It has reflectors or solar cells installed on the roof, collects and changes solar heat into warm water and stores it in a thermal storage tank for heating or hot-water supply; even cooling is possible using a heat pump, a heating/cooling device, which heats a low-temperature heat source using heat or condensation heat of a refrigerant or cools down a high-temperature heat source using a heat pump. Zero-Energy Houses are not necessarily limited to a certain type, passive or active, but combine both types to maximize energy-saving as a general trend.

Source  |  The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport

 Zero-Energy Houses around the world  

There is a house called ‘Zero + House’ in Sønderborg city, southern Denmark. ‘Zero + House’ is part of ‘Project Zero’ carried out to promote a sustainable city as the Sønderborg local autonomous body aims to achieve carbon neutrality in collaboration with construction and energy companies. A married couple that lives in this house says that they have never received an electric bill because they self-generate all of the energy used in the house. An enormous solar panel is attached to the roof of the Zero + House. So it produces more electricity than the electricity this couple consumes. Since they also pull up geothermal heat with the pump buried under the ground, they also do not need additional heating. The couple obtains energy usage information through a state-of-the-art energy management system, and because the house generates excess energy, they are even considering buying an electric car. 

There is also a place where an entire village is utilizing a Zero-Energy system. The UK’s first eco-friendly housing complex, ‘BedZED’, was built reusing waste wood and waste plastic near a place where there was a wastewater treatment facility. 90% of the power used by residents is obtained by using wood residue discharged from a nearby lumbermill, or biomass separated and treated from a landfill as fuel, and the remaining 10% is provided by solar panels installed on the roof and third-floor glass windows. 

‘Niuwland’ in Amersfoort, Netherlands, is an eco-friendly residential complex in which all 6,000 households use a solar power generation system. Because solar panels are attached to the rooftops of each house, it is accurate to state that the entire village is part of a solar power generation system.

‘EZ House’, located in Seoul, is Korea’s first Zero-Energy apartment complex. The apartment complex was constructed with most of its windows on the south side, while its window glass (47mm) is much thicker than that of conventional windows (24mm). 1,284 solar panels installed on the front, side, and roof of the building annually produce 407,000 kWh of electricity. An underground geothermal heat system produces energy equivalent to 367,000 kWh annually for heating/cooling, hot-water supply, etc. ‘Roren House’ in Sejong city, Korea, independently produces over 80% of the energy used for heating, cooling and lighting with heat recovery ventilators and solar panels. In addition, by adopting various high-efficiency equipment and systems, it has lowered energy consumption. Therefore, except for the scorching summer season or cold weather conditions, there is actually almost no energy-cost burden for households. 

The UAE’s famous Masdar City is a carbon neutral city accommodating 50,000 residents and 1,500 eco-friendly companies in an area of 6㎢, built at a cost of 18 billion dollars. Construction is scheduled to be finalized by 2025, and, as its main energy source, the city uses solar heat from the desert where temperatures reach up to 50 degrees Celsius. 

Eco-friendly housing complexes are being built in every corner of the world, including Feldheim in Germany, Chattanooga in the US, and Curitiba in Brazil, which are demonstrating the potential of green energy replacing 100% of electric and heating costs with renewable energy, such as solar heat, wind, etc.

 Q CELLS that leads the residential solar market  

Q CELLS, in line with the latest trends for net-zero energy homes, is offering a residential solar solution that utilizes eco-friendly energy sources. Q.HOME is Q CELLS’ leading and comprehensive residential ESS solution that provides smart energy management systems for residential users. Q.HOME stores excess electricity produced, allowing users to consume the stored electricity at any time, improving home energy efficiency and permitting consumers to actively respond to the electricity billing system. 

▲ Q.HOME, Q CELLS’ comprehensive solution for residential ESS

Q CELLS, which has the lead in the global residential solar market, retains the number one share of the residential PV market in the US, Germany and Japan, offering high efficiency and high performance solutions best suited to the needs of consumers. In addition, in Korea, it has been designated as a residential solar leasing company¹ by Korea Energy Agency since 2014 to install solutions at more than 5,100 apartments and houses, contributing to the growth of eco-friendly energy housing. The rooftop solar power modules installed at Shinjung Eppen House Complex #5 produce 240kWp in electricity and save KRW 50 million in electricity costs annually. For this achievement, Q CELLS received the grand prize in the apartment category of the 2019 ‘Energy Saving Contest’ hosted by the Seoul government. 

In addition to this recognition, in March of 2019, a 100% energy-autonomous passive house in Germany equipped with Q CELLS’ solar modules received the Federal Prize for Outstanding Innovative Achievements from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology for achieving carbon neutrality through eco-friendly construction and equipment. As transforming traditional homes into Zero-Energy Housing has become a global trend, Q CELLS will continue to take the initiative in achieving zero carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency through residential solar energy solutions suited to the needs of each country and region.

1) Solar leasing company  |  Under a solar lease program run by Korea Energy Agency, consumers who want to install solar modules for a detached house or apartment make monthly payments, without initial investment, to a solar leasing company for using the modules. A solar leasing company is a service provider that installs, operates and maintains PV solar modules during the lease contract period.