Precast concrete offers countless solutions to promote the use of renewable energy in the energy mix, both in the production of renewable energy and in their uptake in the built environment
First, precast concrete solutions contribute to the building of necessary infrastructures such as windmills; and installation of solar panels on precast concrete tiles and solar panel footing.
Wind turbines are the main contributor to electricity generation next to hydropower energy. In given location, the production can be improved by the height of the tower and the rotor diameters of the turbines. Thanks to precast concrete, higher wind towers can be built and increased outreach generates more energy.
Concrete wind towers (both onshore and offshore) can easily adapt to local conditions (climate) and it can be locally built with local raw materials and manpower. Thanks to recent technological changes, even moving production is possible in large wind farms. Consequently, it reduces the transportation and importation cost. Furthermore, concrete is maintenance free and it is reachable at stable price.
As for solar panels, it complements perfectly residential or office building roofs while offers the solution to solar panel farms with prefabricated footing.
Second, its thermal mass demonstrates an immense potential to maximise the use of renewable energy. This can result in up to a 25% CO2 reduction per dwelling, up to 50% reduction in the need for peak electricity supply capacity and savings of up to €300 per household per year, compared to a building without thermal mass.
The thermal storage capacity of concrete provided by the structure offers the necessary flexibility in the energy grid to increase the uptake of renewable energy. In other words, it allows for consumer energy demand to be shifted in time (“active demand response”) by using structural thermal energy storage.
Therefore, in addition to concrete’s well-known benefits in terms of the energy efficiency of individual buildings, its unique storage capacity can be harnessed by smart grids to increase the share of renewable energy in the grid. Thanks to concrete and smart controls, it is possible to use energy during off-peak times (e.g. early in the morning), which is then stored in the concrete and slowly released over the next few hours.**
**The Concrete Initiative 3E Study