From October 12th through 18th architecture and engineering students from 20 universities camped on the National Mall as part of the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, which takes place every two years. You can get a virtual tour of all the houses here.
The purpose of the competition is to envision, design, construct and operate a home that runs entirely on solar energy. The university teams take part in ten contests for which they receive marks to determine the decathlon’s winner. The contests include architecture, landscaping, engineering, appliances, hot water, lighting, marketability, the ability to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the home, and ohters.
A few schools traveled from outside the U.S., and this year’s winner was the German team from Darmstadt. Congratulations are, of course, due, but I admit my first thought was – “Duh. Germany is one of the world’s top exporters of photovoltaic everything, on the cutting edge of the technology.” Naturally, it seems, they came, they conquered, and they return to Germany to continue kicking our industry’s butt.
Better luck to the U.S. teams in 2009? I hope so. I hope the victory speaks to the venture capitalists, the investors, the universities, the donors, and the Senators and Congress members who have the power to invest and incentivize the solar industry, the market, and the jobs it could create.
On that note, keep your eye on Wednesday’s Senate EPW hearing on the private sector and the Lieberman-Warner bill.
This competition is particularly tight compared to the decathlon — probably many more contests than ten, and more than 20 ‘teams’/interests — so let the games begin.