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FS01 - A Hybrid Solar Thermal Mass System Development

Written by: CIC Start Online

"A Hybrid Solar Thermal Mass System Development for the Application to Tenants First Housing Co-operative’s Zero-carbon Affordable Homes" by Glasgow School of Art, Edinburgh Napier University and Tenants First Housing Co-operative


Scottish homes today are conspicuous energy consumers emitting on average 3 ton-CO2 per house annually which is much higher than the UK average of 2.75 ton-CO2. Moreover, approximately 20% of the households are actually facing fuel poverty. The government has set a market target that all newly built homes would be carbon-neutral by 2016 (or 2017).

Having recognised the imminent issues, Tenants First Housing Co]operative (TFHC) is taking the initiative for the actual development of zero-carbon affordable homes in Aberdeen by 2012. TFHC possessing over 1,300 properties in Scotland is the largest Fully Mutual Housing Co-op in Britain. From 2010 to 2013, TFHC intends to deliver almost 300 homes and is now negotiating over its programme. Moreover, the SME partner of this feasibility study is currently taking the initiative for the delivery of zero-carbon affordable homes in Scotland where 10 homes will initially be built in Aberdeen by 2012 and the significance of the Hybrid Solar Thermal Mass (HSTM) system will possibly be demonstrated based on the learning outcomes of this feasibility study.

In this study, the rationale for the design and operational mode of a simple, direct HSTM domestic heating system was examined. The benefits of using the building foundation as the heat store over alternative, more common, wet (or phase change) thermal storage media were discussed. In addition, the scope of this study extended to the investigation of the HSTM system’s architectural integration by demonstrating the possible application by making use of TFHC’s zero-carbon affordable homes project in Aberdeen.

The HSTM system performance and the applicability were discussed through a ‘Design Charrette’ held at the premises of Mackintosh School of Architecture, The Glasgow School of Art. The study concluded that using the Ecocirc pump in combination with a 30 Wp PV module, the desired design condition of a relatively constant collector outlet temperature can be achieved in practice. Also, this pump/PV pairing has the potential to deliver appropriate flow rates in larger systems. For the present system, a flow rate of approximately 1 l/min at full sun provides the desired collector temperature rise. This equates to a flow rate of 0.35 l/min m2 of collector. For systems comprising greater collector area the flow rate should be scaled accordingly. Measurement of irradiance, and collector temperature and flow, has provided an accurate appraisal of the Solartwin collector thermal performance. It indicates that the HSTM system is able to deliver heat to, and store heat within, the thermal mass of the building foundation. This simple system has the potential to provide a significant contribution to building annual thermal demand.

However, for the optimal performance of HSTM, houses equipped with the system need to be designed properly with due consideration of the orientation of solar panels and the location of thermal mass floors and/or walls. Moreover, shading of the solar panels and thermal mass needs to be avoided or minimised. In consideration of specific system parameters, including the hydraulic resistance afforded by the under-floor pipe, solar thermal collector and ancillary pipe fittings, a number of system materials and equipment were purchased and the system monitoring was carried out by Edinburgh Napier University.

Key words: new building, domestic buildings, zero carbon homes, renewable energy, photovoltaic panel, solar hot water, energy storage


Dr Masa Noguchi

Masa Noguchi is a Senior Lecturer at MEARU, Mackintosh School of Architecture, The Glasgow School of Art, leading the Energy and Environment pathway within the postgraduate programme.

Dr Noguchi is known as the originator of the Mass Custom Design® approach to sustainable affordable housing developments and the theoretical model has been introduced in Research Handbook in Mass Customization and Personalization published in 2009 by World Scientific Publishing. He is a qualified Ecohomes & Code for Sustainable Homes assessor being engaged in a variety of R&D projects.

In 2007, he contributed to leading the architectural design development of the ÉcoTerra® house, Canada’s first net zero-energy healthy home built and commercialised through the federal government's EQuilibrium sustainable housing initiative. In 2008, the design features were documented in the Open House International, Vol.33, No.3, where he took the journal’s guest editor role.

Currently, he is responsible for national and international collaborations through the Zero-energy Mass Custom Home Mission to Japan, which he initiated and organised in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010, as well as the IEA SHC/ECBCS, TASK 40/ANNEX 51 research activities. Moreover, in partnership with the Tenants First Housing Co-operative and the ROBERTRYAN Homes, he is systematising design approaches to the actual production of net zero-carbon/energy healthy homes in Scotland.

Dr Tom Grassie

School of Engineering and the Built Environment, Edinburgh Napier University

Tom is presently lecturer in thermofluids and renewable energy, and programme leader for the Energy and Environmental Engineering degree at Edinburgh Napier University. His current research interests include optimisation of solar air heating systems and solar drying of biomass, and the design and application of solar thermal systems at high latitudes.

Tom maintains strong links with the solar thermal sector, working closely with both Solartwin and AES. In addition to a long standing partnership with Solartwin, other recent consultancy work, in collaboration with University of Highlands and Islands, has considered solar drying of seaweed in S.Uist. 

Euan Barr

Euan is Director of Development with Tenants First Housing Co-operative. He is a graduate of Town Planning from the University of Strathclyde and Postgraduate of Housing Studies from the University of Glasgow. He has worked within the Registered Social Landlord sector for 12 years, beginning on a voluntary basis at Parkhead Housing Association and working for 6 years on major regeneration projects in inner city Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Moved to Aberdeen to work with Tenants First in 2005 and is a lead officer in the Devanha Development Consortium, the largest affordable housing developer in the North East of Scotland.

Euan has researched innovative housing design and construction extensively in the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Japan. As well as being lead officer on Donside Urban Village, the north east of Scotland’s largest affordable housing development, he is presently the Company Supervisor for the Knowledge Transfer Partnership which Tenants First Housing Cooperative is undertaking along with Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow. This aims to research, develop and deliver a prototype affordable zero carbon home of the future.


Held on 29th Sept 2010

View Webinar Recording
Presentation 1 - Euan Barr, Tenants First Housing Co-operative
Presentation 2 - Dr Masa Noguchi, Glasgow School of Art
Presentation 3 - Dr Tom Grassie, Edinburgh Napier University


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