Heliotrope House: German’s first energy positive house

Solar Panels

In the suburbs of Freiburg, Germany, Heliotrope House stands like a stone, trying to recall all of us as the structure resembling the Unidentified Object waiting to build the base camp on the earth. It is a great futuristic approach to harnessing solar energy to its full extent. As per the studies, this house utilizes solar energy in two ways such as solar panels, which help to generate electricity while glass tubes exposed to sun heat water.

This unique structure is an excellent example of man-made architecture. It is a cylindrical house mounted on a giant pole, rotating to track the sun’s path for fullest access to the sun’s energy. It is the first house in the history of Germany producing more energy than the demand. In the wake of protesting the nuclear power plant in Freiburg, Rolf Disch and his inventor came up with the ideas of a heliotrope house, which enhanced the scope of using renewable energy in private homes.

Some conically shaped houses were already using solar energy for their daily energy requirements but Rolf Disch wanted to invent a house that would generate more energy from the sun (or many some renewable energy sources) that it actually needed. “This idea needed an experimental, futuristic, and iconic design. The Heliotrope was born,” said Tobias Bube, Disch’s spokesman.

This house is made of wood, which resembles a huge tree that rotates around a central axis. In 12 hours, it rotates 180 degrees about one to two degrees in ten minutes to capture maximum sunlight.

Rolf Disch’s spokesman Bube said, “You only feel the movement when you concentrate on it,”  as the heliotrope house stands on a pole, “Because of the pole, the house might sway a little when it’s windy but there’s no need to be afraid of vertigo.”

The computer controls make sure that the photovoltaic panels are adjusted toward the sun all the time. The capacity of photovoltaic panels is about 6.6 kilowatts.

The building is divided into two parts. To capture the passive solar energy, one-half of the building is well equipped with triple-glazed windows. The other half is composed of an insulating device to keep the house cool in summer. However, cold spells, wood chips, and solar thermal systems help to keep the house warm during winter.

A greywater circuit collects rainwater, which can be used to wash dishes and clothes. The wastewater is purified in a cascade pool. A dry compost toilet system requires no water which depicts eco-home. One big benefit of the heliotrope house is that it produces five times more energy than it consumes. Heliotrope house is a well-resourced setup, but it is a bit expensive which costs about 2 million dollars.

According to the newsletter, Bube said that no German banks were ready to finance solar instalments for heliotrope home. However, Schlierberg, a private investor, came forward to encourage heliotrope technology. In 2000, the Schlierberg Solar Settlement helped to install heliotrope technology in 50 homes located in Freiburg.

Sun Ship is a commercial building, which encourages heliotrope technology by installing an energy-positive community. This setup generates about 36 kilowatt-hours per square meter of energy.

In 2010, the concept of heliotrope technology got a huge setback when the German government agreed to reduce feed-in traffics for installing rooftop photovoltaic panels. However, the German Energy Agency DENA stressed on the subject of private investment will be advantageous for the future even though subsidies decrease by 16%. In the future, solar energy will be a great source of energy as compared to other conventional sources of energy.

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