Concept of the Day: ZEB Pilot House

December 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

snohetta zeb houseA house, not a car, but one designed to support the charging of an electric vehicle thanks to a positive balance of surplus energy. The prototype ZEB Pilot House, a collaboration between Norwegian architects Snøhetta and the Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings and in situ on a site at Larvik, 80-odd miles south of Oslo, has a solar-panelled roof tilted south-eastwards for optimum light capture (at least within the bounds of aesthetic and practical considerations) and features including an app-controllable smart energy management system to optimise the energy storage system, reports Wired. It produces enough surplus energy to propel an EV 12,500 miles a year. More lowdown from its creators here. And just to show that this ain’t pie in the sky, it’s reported that a small town in southern Bavaria called Wildpoldsried has – through a government-subsidised programme to shift its inhabitants to solar, wind, biogas and hydro energy – ended up producing a whopping 500% energy surplus.

  • Volvo has developed a cloud-enabled car-to-cycle helmet communication system in partnership with helmet-makers POC and Ericsson. This extends the City Safety system, which includes cyclist-sensing, to communicate with cycling apps such as Strava and alert both driver and cyclist to each others’ positions, activating auto-braking on the Volvo if necessary. This will be demoed at CES, Las Vegas, in early January. More details from Volvo here.
  • A working paper from the US National Bureau for Economic Research reckons that driving a Tesla (for example) + having domestic solar panels = greater than the sum of the parts when it comes to greening-up suburban living. Conclusion is that a sub-group of “accidental environmentalists” is created, there being a positive association between Tesla-driving and installation of solar panels, and purchasers of both enjoying cost-savings. Tesla drivers are more motivated by energy independence, having the latest tech and vehicle performance than environmental issues, apparently.
  • And some feedback from the US DoE via Green Car Congress) on six projects on charging behaviour, looking at 270+ public charging stations and 700-odd residential units. Most plug-in car owners plugged in to their domestic units overnight, and price incentives were successful in encouraging off-peak charging; public points were little-used but typically deployed during business hours; PHEV owners liked to top-up at free public points; power demand varied by vehicle and installation of 240-volt fast-chargers is expensive and complex; and utilities reported communication problems between smartmeters and charging points at load-reduction events (brown-outs).
  • Fiat has been partnering with peer-to-peer carsharing service Getaround (USA) to offer discounts on the purchase of shared vehicles; there have been discounts of $1000 on selected 500 models made available via the Getaround Connect app and members have been claiming earnings from their vehicles each month which put them in profit against their (discounted) lease payments on their cars.
  • Here’s some more at Wired on the General Electric/Con Edison/ Columbia University trial on EV fleet-charging and grid-balancing: the programme, with FedEx in New York, is looking at spreading out charging over a 24-hour period according to demands on the grid and forecasting to avoid ‘spikes’, and computer models are estimating that a building supporting 100 EVs could see a $10,000-a-month reduction in its electricity bills if using such a system.
  • Waste from olive oil production can be converted to electricity, via biogas conversion and a fuel cell, reports Green Car Congress. A two-year project trialled the process on an olive farm in Andalucia, Spain. More on the EU-funded Biogas2PEM-FC project here.
  • And that hybrid plane: researchers from Cambridge University, working with Boeing, have trialled a petrol-electric Honda-engined light aircraft (a converted Song single-seater) promising fuel savings of around 30%.

 

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