December 7, 2011 / 8:05 PM / 6 years ago

Merkel opens German house that also drives a car

3 Min Read

BERLIN, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday took the wraps off a three-bedroom house that will produce twice as much energy as it needs, a project she said will serve as a showcase for renewable energy and climate protection.

The passive-energy house, built in front of a federal building near a Berlin rail station, will produce more than 16,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year with photovoltaic panels on its roof and south-facing wall.

The surplus electricity will be used to power electric cars parked in front of the house, with the four-person family getting enough battery power to travel about 30,000 km a year.

Merkel said the two-storey house, a cube with one wall made of glass to allow the public to inspect its clean-tech equipment, should serve as a model for German houses of the future.

"This house is an excellent example of how innovative advances can be linked to what people need in everyday life one step at a time," Merkel said at the opening of the thickly insulated structure.

"There's a lot of potential in this area. I think this is an example of how people will be living in the future."

Germany is a global leader in renewable energy, getting more than 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

It has also cut its CO2 emissions by 25 percent since 1990 and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020.

A family of four will soon move in to the house for a rent-free 15-month period, chronicling their experiences. They will have some private areas and a private terrace on the west side.

"The idea behind this is that 'my house is my filling station'," said Construction Minister Peter Ramsauer, who said 132 four-person families had applied to live in the house on a busy boulevard in the heart of west Berlin.

All the equipment in the house, which cost 2.2 million euros ($3 million), is currently available, officials said. It will be taken down in three years and either recycled or rebuilt at another location.

"I hope the family that moves in here will have a great experience learning to practice energy efficiency," Merkel said. (Reporting By Erik Kirschbaum)

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