Holy Hydrogen… homes? Yes, last year, just as the debate about the efficiency and affordability of alternative energy sources began to ‘heat up’, developers in Denmark also began conceptualizing their very own way to solve the problem. Say hello to H2PIA, the world’s first hydrogen powered community! After the successful re-development of Stockholm’s Hammerby Stad, we’re not surprised that the Nords are continuing to shine when it comes to design and efficiency.
Though someday suburb, called ‘H2pia’ is completely geared towards balancing energy needs and, if it comes to fruition, will certainly lead the way to a model future of truly fine living. Here’s how it works. Residents collect their own energy via solar and wind sources that then charge hydrogen fuel cells that then power both the home and automobiles. The various structures within the neighborhood have been designed so that ‘their curves maximize returns on energy collection.’ And if we know one thing in life it’s this… curves maximize collection.
With different living options available depending on family size and needs, Villa Unplugged is created for families that enjoy nature and open spaces. The villas are not connected to the common energy grid and they manage their own storage of hydrogen and production of energy for the home and the cars. Villa Unplugged is completely self-sufficient with energy as the heat comes from solar panels that also produce electricity together with wind turbines. Part of the electricity is used for producing hydrogen for the fuel cells in automobiles. The rest of the hydrogen is stored and used later in in-house fuel cells for electricity and heating during periods with insufficient sun and wind.
Villa Plugged, H2pia
The inhabitants of Villa Plugged, however, get 100 % of their energy supply from a central energy producer. This is how most people in Denmark live today. Villa Plugged contains a communal residence for the younger town residents. Plugged constitutes ‘an open, creative and inspiring milieu, created by young people – for young people.’ As the name of the area implies, this part of the city is ‘plugged into the socket’ and gets electricity and heat from the central energy supply. Villa Plugged gets electricity and heat from the central energy supply of H2PIA, which is placed in H2PIA Public.
Villa Hybrid is a family residence where the concepts from Unplugged and Plugged are combined. The families produce their own energy but are also connected to the common energy grid. They can also supply the grid with any excess energy. The hydrogen car is another central element of Villa Hybrid. When it’s parked next to the house, its on-board fuel cell produces large amounts of power which is delivered to the common energy grid, thus contributing to the balancing of the family’s energy consumption and production. The houses in ‘Hybrid’ are intended to be luxurious, with panoramic views, style and comfort.
We don’t doubt that the Danes will do it right.
Last, but not least, H2PIA Share is the town center with a mix of shops, public spaces, businesses and recreational areas. As their site notes, “In H2PIA, a large part of the inhabitants are self employed, a fact that creates possiblities for new lifestyles that combine work, leisure and fun. Share allows for a context of optimism, creativity, joy of life and confidence in the future.
Peter Qvist Lorentsen, architect of the project and partner at PQL Studio, the design studio at the helm of H2PIA, isn’t yet sure what part of Denmark the concept will be realized, but at the moment different Danish municipalities are interested, as are other places abroad. “And we are also still waiting for calls from different EU-foundations,” Lorentsen says. “So, the construction of H2PIA has not started yet and therefore the project has been delayed. In the meantime, we’re fine-tuning the concept.
Regarding the prices, Lorentsen says the buildings will only be a little bit more expensive than normal house prices in Denmark. “The reason is that the houses will be very very well insulated and be added with energy saving technologies as heating reuse systems etc.,” he explains. “That means the buildings will get a minimum energy consumption. Regarding the prices of technologies for energy production (solar heat, solar cells, wind turbines, fuel cells etc.) it all depends on what extent we can get financial support from different national and EU foundations.”
So we’ll cross our fingers the Foundations are listening.