The Home Design That Could Change the Economics of Solar Forever
Turning sunlight into energy would be a lot easier if the Earth weren’t constantly spinning.
Because solar panels work best when they’re directly facing the sun–which happens only for a short period each day–most of the time, a significant amount of solar power falls by the wayside. To help solve this problem, Portugal-based design project Casas em Movimento (Houses in Motion) has come up with a revolutionary design using a rotating house whose photovoltaic roof follows the sun throughout the day, Fast Company reports. The interior of the house even has a section that stays stationary at all times, allowing you change and customize the layout throughout the day depending on how you want to use the space.
Architects are building the first house to use the design in the Portuguese city of Matosinhos. The project’s creator, Manuel Vieira Lopes, professor of architecture at Portugal’s University of Porto, is currently seeking potential buyers for a prototype version of the home. (A home just over 1,000 square feet would cost around 500,000 euros.) To see how the design works, check out the video below.
Casas em Movimento’s solar panels produce about five times as much energy as the house needs, resulting in excess power that an owner could sell back to the utility grid. In the U.S., however, the program that credits solar energy generators for the electricity added back to the grid–called net metering–has taken a hit recently. Last month, Nevada, California, and Hawaii introduced cutbacks that are changing the economics of solar panels on rooftops, MIT Technology Review reports.
Some 20 other states are also considering similar changes, which could make it even harder to reach grid parity–when the cost of solar is comparable to the average price of power from the grid. If consumers no longer receive net metering fees, residential solar power “makes no financial sense,” SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive recently told The New York Times.
Still, in the long-term, solar power in the U.S. should have a very bright future. An Oxford University study published last month predicts that the price of solar will continue to fall 10 percent per year for several more years. By 2027, solar power should be able to provide 20 percent of the world’s energy needs, according to the study.