Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Solar power in the countryside

Different environment, different type of solution!
Here is an example of a solar installation tailored to the countryside (as opposed to single solar panel that we saw in Copenhague center): the "solbuen" (ray of sun) district, close by Hillerød.

First, you encounter a very large area of solar collectors used for heating. It is true that Denmark is not known for its sunny days (reputation partially false or partially true depending on your point of view), but the few sunny days this winter were enough to produce some MWh, which can lighten the heating bill. It seems that the operation is quite profitable because the town already draws plans for the next "solar farm". Maintenance is inexpensive because it just needs mowing from time to time! At the center of this facility, a counter displays MWh "harvested" during the day.

The roof of service buildings (bike shed, carport ...) is also covered with photovoltaic sensors. Enough to provide some additionnal electricity for homes.

You can't see it from the outside, but most homes are equipped with heat pumps and for some, wood powered heating systems - so another more or less renewable energy. Add to that, a few geothermal equipments, and the engineers behind this project claim that this area makes 95% less CO2 than traditional buildings [source COWI] ... Respect!
The buildings themselves are "standard", ie very representative of the current Danish architecture. Modern materials, cubic forms and predominance of raw materials: wood, glass, metal. You like it or not ... At least the merit of these modern buildings is that energy efficiency has been taken into account.

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