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Solar & Alternative Energy

Fierce competition in Solar Decathlon

SPIE Newsroom
Updated 15 October 2009

20 solar homes officially opened to the public on October 9th on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and have spent the past week competing in the 2009 Solar Decathlon. The Solar Decathlon is an international event in which the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) challenges university teams to design and build homes that run entirely on solar energy.

They teams competed in contests for best architecture, engineering, market viability, communications, comfort, appliances, water heating, lighting, home entertainment, as well as a special two-part net metering competition, during which teams are not only rated on their energy production, but receive a bonus for producing more energy than their home consumes.

In the early scoring results, the Minnesota team was in first place for lighting design, while University of Louisiana was in first place for market viability. Over 800 student competitors from the United States, Canada, Spain, and Germany, who have been designing and building since their teams were chosen two years ago, competed in this year's competition. Students also had to perform everyday tasks, such as cooking, doing the laundry, and even washing dishes, to test the energy efficiency of their homes. To learn more about the teams, see the Solar Decathlon team page.

October 15th is the last official day of competition, and the overall winner will be announced on October 16, for this fourth such competition since 2002. Keep up to date by checking the Solar Decathlon's Contests and Scoring page.

The homes will be open to the public from October 9-13 and 15-18, and will be open for tours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.  DOE is the primary sponsor of the 2009 Solar Decathlon, which is also sponsored and managed by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. See the event schedule for more details.