Solar Energy & Net Zero Energy Housing: Economic Reality?

May 14, 2010 :: Gordon Howell
Moderated by Tom Cain

IB1103 & IB1104 (LaValley Theatres)
Lethbridge College Campus

A net zero energy (NZE) house produces as much heat and electricity as it consumes on an annual basis. “Near zero” and “net zero ready” house concepts are also being developed. “Near zero” recognizes when a house’s purchased energy is very low and is thus close to the net zero target. “Net zero ready” recognizes when the house’s infrastructure and building envelope are developed to facilitate the addition of suitably sized solar energy technologies post construction.

The decision to add solar technologies could be, for example, as solar prices decline, as fossil fuel prices rise, and as concerns with fossil fuel resource depletion and environmental degradation continue to grow. The net zero energy goal is achieved by employing a combination of technologies that reduce house energy requirements and use on-site renewable energy systems. The speaker will guide the audience through what’s required.

Specifically a net zero energy strategy includes: Reducing domestic electricity consumption through energy efficient appliances and lighting. Household water heating requirements lowered through water efficient appliances. Lessens space heating and cooling energy using an energy efficient building envelope and uses appropriate site-based renewable energy systems to supply heat and electricity (typically only solar-based and geothermal technologies are used in an urban setting).

Speaker: Gordon Howell

Gordon Howell is an electrical engineer with Howell-Mayhew Engineering, specializing in developing grid-connected solar PV systems. In 1995 the solar PV system on his own house, sponsored by Edmonton Power and Natural Resources Canada, was the first one connected to the grid west of Toronto and the 12th one in Canada.

Since 1995 he has been uncovering the barriers in connecting PV systems to the grid, and working with Alberta’s government, regulators and electric utilities to remove them and be ready for the solar tipping point. His work on national and international solar PV standards and has helped show him what we can do.

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