Hydro, Europe's leading aluminium company and a global supplier of advanced building systems, opened an energy-neutral building in Ulm in southern Germany on Tuesday, showcasing its latest technologies for more energy-efficient buildings.
About 40 percent of Europe's energy consumption is used in buildings - mainly for heating and cooling purposes - and the European Union and several national governments are calling for measures to significantly reduce power consumption from buildings to conserve energy and curb carbon emissions.
Bridging the technology gap
"With the opening of our 'Wicona Test Center' in Ulm, we demonstrate that we have already bridged the technological gap between the energy-intensive buildings of today and the vision of energy-neutral buildings of tomorrow," Hydro President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg said. Wicona is one of Hydro's brands for building solutions.
"Hydro has a clear goal of enabling buildings not only to produce their own energy, but even to deliver surplus power," he said.
"These buildings will be good for the environment, good for the economy, and good for the people that live and work in them."
A step in the right direction
Brandtzæg added that technological advances need to be complemented by clearer targets and stronger regulations to realize the significant potential for saving energy and reducing carbon emissions, and welcomed the European Commission's ongoing work in this important area as a clear step in the right direction.
Compared to conventional new buildings, whose energy demand is on average more than 100 KWh per square meter a year, the Wicona Test Center consumes less than 40 KWh per square meter. This energy is fully covered over the course of a year by its own power generation from solar panels and an advanced ground water heat pump system - which at certain periods even makes it a building that generates more power than it.