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Combined HEat SyStem by using Solar Energy and heaT pUmPs

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A trio of solar energy technologies good for buildings, grid stabilisation and the environment

There are many ways to harness the Sun’s energy. An EU-funded holistic solution generates heat and electricity, stores surpluses of both and can inject excess electricity back into the grid for nearly zero-energy buildings that share their wealth.


Buildings are responsible for about 40 % of energy consumption and about 36 % of CO2 emissions in the EU. To address this challenge, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive targets nearly zero-energy buildings for all buildings constructed after 31 December 2020. Heating and hot water demands account for 79 % of total final energy use in EU households and most of the energy is still supplied by fossil fuels. The EU-funded CHESS-SETUP project has developed a cost-effective and reliable way to provide heating, cooling and hot water from renewable energy sources. Energy storage and connection to the grid round out the many benefits.

A holistic approach to self-sufficient buildings using renewable energy technologies

According to project coordinator Sergio Sánchez of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona: “Our hybrid solar panels transform solar radiation into both electricity and heat. Panel insulation minimises heat losses from the solar thermal system while keeping photovoltaic cells cool, boosting the efficiency of both heat recovery and electricity production.” The electricity can be utilised by the CHESS-SETUP system or the building and surplus can be stored in batteries or injected into the grid. Seasonal thermal energy storage systems store the heat collected by solar panels and an innovative high-efficiency heat pump recovers it for domestic hot water and space heating. An innovative smart control and management system seamlessly optimises storage and use while supporting integration of renewable energy sources to the grid.

Tailor-made solutions supported by simulation software

The CHESS-SETUP solution can be implemented in new and retrofit applications for different types of building typologies, climate conditions and energy demands. It can utilise the hybrid solar panels as well as thermal or photovoltaic panels. The holistic solution portfolio includes both liquid and solid thermal energy storage systems. Batteries can accommodate storage of excess electrical energy. CHESS-SETUP has developed a simulator to help planners optimise their energy solutions. The user-friendly software provides a preliminary analysis of a given solution’s performance, investment costs, economic savings and the investment recovery time. It is freely accessible on the project website as is the user guide.

Nearly zero-energy buildings are around the corner

Using the simulation platform to configure customised solutions, CHESS-SETUP technologies were installed in three different pilot sites: a large sports centre, a housing community of twenty-six eco-homes and an office building. All three demonstrated energy savings and reductions in CO2 emissions surpassing expectations as well as economic viability. Sánchez concludes: “CHESS-SETUP has delivered a self-contained energy transformation and delivery system relying on renewable energy collected and transformed on-site. The solutions can move us towards nearly zero-energy buildings, energy independence and enhanced grid productivity utilising renewables.” Project partners are currently working with governments, municipalities and local entities to promote implementation and facilitate subsidies. Eight more buildings are now on board, including hospitals, retirement homes, universities, business centres and a prison, and implementation is pending approval in three more sports centres. CHESS-SETUP has got all the right moves for climate-neutral buildings and a growing team of players to enhance impact.


CHESS-SETUP, energy, grid, nearly zero-energy buildings, heating, hybrid solar panels, thermal energy storage, heat pump

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