Germany's Passivhaus Institut has created two new levels of compliance for certification that for the first time set minimums for renewable energy production as well as new limits on how much energy a building can consume.
The changes are rolled into a new version of the Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. Planning Package (PHPP), the modeling software that designers use in designing Passivhaus structures, and will go into effect with its release later in April.
By the end of 2014, total installed capacity for solar PV globally amount to at least 177 gigawatts, up from nearly 140 gigawatts in 2013, according to the International Energy Agency's Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA-PVPS).
Countries in the IEA-PVPS network that are engaged in collaborative efforts to grow the PV market reported 155 gigawatts of cumulative solar installations at the end of 2014. Countries outside of the PVPS program, which the IEA tracks through industry groups as opposed to official government bodies, installed at least 22 gigawatts of additional capacity.
There is at least 10 times more solar PV installed around the world today than in 2008. These global installations are now producing more than 1 percent of the electricity used on the planet.
Source: IEA PVPS
But while the global solar PV market continues to grow, last year's performance didn't quite meet expectations.
The IEA's preliminary data released yesterday shows the global PV market saw a modest increase year over year, from 37.6 gigawatts in 2013 to 38.7 gigawatts in 2014.
The market in Europe decreased significantly, from 22 gigawatts in 2011 to around 7 gigawatts in...