German ‘energy surplus’ house inaugurated by Chancellor Merkel

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berlin energy surplus house
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) stands outside the first fully functional "Energy Surplus House" during its presentation in Berlin. Photo - Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week inaugurated Berlin’s first fully functional energy-surplus three-bedroom house that will produce twice as much energy as it needs, a project she said will serve as a showcase for renewable energy and climate protection.

The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development has created the project as a ?showcase? for joint innovative developments in building and vehicle technologies as part of its building and electric mobility research.?The passive energy house will produce more than 16,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year with photovoltaic panels on its roof and south-facing wall.

Germany is a global leader in renewable energy, getting more than 20 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. It has also cut its CO2 emissions by 25 percent since 1990 and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020.

The energy plus house can generate twice the energy it consumes. The carbon-friendly electricity can be put to alternative means to power electric cars parked in front of the house, with the four-person family getting enough battery power to travel about 30,000 km a year.

On the opening of thickly insulated structure, Merkel said the two-storey house, a cube with one wall made of glass to allow the public to inspect its clean-tech equipment, should serve as a model for German houses of the future.

?This house is an excellent example of how innovative advances can be linked to what people need in everyday life one step at a time,? he said. ?There?s a lot of potential in this area. I think this is an example of how people will be living in the future.?

The 130 square meter 3-bedroom structure aims to allow the comfortable abode of a single-family, and an excess of power to be created, via renewable methods, photovoltaic cells and heat pumps have been incorporated into the building?s design.

To experience the eco-friendly energy system house, a family of four will soon move into the house for a rent-free 15-month period. They will have some private areas and a private terrace on the west side.

?The idea behind this is that ‘my house is my filling station?,? said Construction Minister Peter Ramsauer, who said 132 four-person families had applied to live in the house on a busy boulevard in the heart of west Berlin.

According to the officials, all the equipment in the house cost up to 2.2 million euro and will be taken down in three years and either recycled or rebuilt at another location.

?I hope the family that moves in here will have a great experience learning to practice energy efficiency,? Merkel said.

If the house is dismantled, 100 percent of the house?s materials can be recycled, as the facade is formed out of a modern fusion of metal and glass. As a popular feature of 21st century architecture, the latter material is used to create an expansive fully-transparent wall, allowing an incursion of natural light into much of the interior spaces, as well as inviting public inspection.

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