On global level the operation of buildings accounts for around 40 % of the primary energy consumption and approximately 25 % of the greenhouse gas emissions. In Europe buildings are responsible for 40 % of energy consumption and 36 % of CO2 emissions. Additionally, large amounts of energy are embodied in the building’s construction materials.

A significant reduction of the fossil energy demand of buildings can be achieved by using solar thermal and solar electric (photovoltaic) energy for the operation of the buildings. Numerous research projects have shown that 100 % solar fractions of the electricity and heat requirements for individual buildings (mostly single-family homes) are basically feasible. However, these demonstrators were all in economic terms not nearly competitive with conventional energy supply solutions and were characterized much more by a high degree of self-sufficiency. The proposed IEA SHC task will focus on the development of economical energy supply concepts for high solar fractions of single-family buildings, multi-story residential buildings and building blocks or distinguished parts of a city (communities) for both, new buildings and the comprehensive refurbishment of existing buildings. A central component of the energy supply concept development is the synergetic consideration of the interaction with grid infrastructures (electricity and heat) in the sense of bidirectional flexibility.


The IEA SHC Task will focus on the development of economic and ecologic feasible solar energy supply concepts with high solar fractions for new and existing single buildings and building blocks or communities. The targeted solar thermal and solar electrical fractions depend significantly on the climate zone. For central European climate conditions solar fractions:

  • of at least 85% of the heat demand
  • 100% of the cooling demand and
  • at least 60% of the electricity requirements
  • for households and e-mobility should be achieved.

In the context of this proposed SHC Task the separation between (single) buildings and building blocks or communities is based on the aspect whether the buildings are connected to a thermal grid or not. This separation is based on the fact, that in general all buildings will be connected to an electricity grid. Hence, with regard to the  interexchange ability of energy between different buildings the only difference is the aspect if the buildings are connected to a thermal grid or not.

Purpose and Objectives

The content of this new proposed project was defined based on know-how from the expert knowledge of approx. 50 participants from around 15 different countries and position
papers, such the strategic research agenda of the European Solar Thermal Technology Panel, the European Technology and Innovation Platform on Renewable Heating &
Cooling (RHC-ETIP) and the experience of several national projects in the field of solar energy buildings.

The main goals and objectives of the activity will be:

Objective 1: Identifying and mapping of the relevant involved stakeholders (energy suppliers, housing developers, urban planning, industry, research, and governmental (local, regional, national) and their needs and roles as well as supporting and inhibiting (legal) framework conditions.

Objective 2: To give an overview on various technology options and the available technology portfolio, taking into account existing and emerging technologies with the potential to be successfully applied within the context of this Task. Furthermore, strategies will be elaborated how challenges in an economical context can be overcome.

Objective 3: To exploit the new degrees of freedom and possibilities by linking individual technologies from the technology portfolio and to optimize the interaction of local generation, storage, consumption at the building and district level enabling interactions with the grid capitalizing on new technological opportunities and unlocking new revenue streams.

Objective 4: To develop and define optimized integrated and grid-interacting energy supply concepts for heat, cold, domestic electricity demand and e-mobility with intelligent control concepts and promoting user oriented approaches. 

Objective 5: To give recommendations to policy makers and energy related companies on how they can influence the uptake of cost-effective solutions related to the planning and implementation of Solar Energy Buildings.