DOE Solar Decathlon 2017 Competition Announced By Department Of Energy
The DOE Solar Decathlon, which is an initiative by the U.S. Department of Energy, is a competition that aims at encouraging the construction of houses that are energy efficient, cost-effective and at the same time, aesthetically pleasing.
The competition is driven by the need to convert to the use of renewable energy in homes as well as the need to produce the energy required for the home with great efficiency. The solar decathlon also has the goal of creating awareness about the cost benefits as well as the environmental benefits that accrue from using clean energy and clean designs in housing.
The first solar decathlon was held in 2002 and since then, the competition is held every two years with other editions occurring in 2005, 2007, 2011, 2013 and most recently, in 2015. Both the 2013 and 2015 events happened in Orange County Great Park, California. Over the years, the competition has also moved beyond the borders of the U.S., Spain, China, France and even Columbia.
According to an estimate, at least 130 teams from various colleges and universities in the U.S and other countries have participated in the competition including 94 teams from different regions in the world such as the Middle East, China and Latin America.
The next solar decathlon will be held in Autumn, 2017. According to an announcement made by the Department of Energy, the competition will be held in Denver City at the 61st and Pena Commuter Rail Station.
According to the Mayor of Denver City, Michael Hancock, the selection of Denver as the host city for the competition asserts the city’s position as a lead-light in energy conservation and efficiency particularly in the solar energy industry.
Energetics Incorporated, which is a consultancy firm in energy and environmental matters, will be the program administrators of the 2017 decathlon meaning they will be in-charge of organizing, managing and conducting the event.
Some of the sponsors of the event include Denver’s Office of Sustainability, Denver International Airport (which is renowned for its use of sustainable energy in its operations), the Regional Transportation District and private companies such as Panasonic and Xcel Energy.
It would be important to note that the site of the 2017 event is also strategically located next to a new development which is tipped to become a national model of sustainable, eco-friendly and transit-friendly development.
This development is expected to have a positive impact on the economic growth and competitiveness of Denver and the region as a whole. This development will create jobs, provide a wide range of housing options and transportation options and change the landscape of the East Corridor.
The competition will feature 16 collegiate teams 8 of which are returning to the competition while the other 8 are new to the competition. The teams will compete in 10 contests that include architecture, market potential, engineering, communications, innovation, water, health and comfort, appliances, home life and most importantly, energy.
It would be important to note that the teams feature members from different disciplines ranging from marketing to computer science and engineering. The team that can design a house that is not only beautiful but also modern, cost effective and energy efficient will be declared the winner. The teams that will participate in the 2017 solar decathlon competition are;
- Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia)
- Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (Lausanne, Switzerland)
- Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada)
- Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, Missouri)
- West Virginia University (Morgantown, West Virginia)
- Rice University (Houston, Texas)
- Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York)
- The University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, Alabama)
- University of California, Davis (Davis, California)
- Washington State University (Pullman, Washington)
- Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri)
- The University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, California)
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College (Daytona Beach, Florida)
- HU University of Applied Science Utrecht (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Earlier on in 2016, the 16 teams embarked on an 18-month long process that will involve raising funds for their individual projects, designing the houses and products, constructing them, testing the houses and products, disassembling the houses and transporting them to the competition site in Denver.
Eligible houses will measure 800 square feet and should be 100% solar powered. Nevertheless, it is expected that the houses will present diversity both in design and the technologies used. What’s more, it is expected that the houses will cater to the needs of various market targets from different regional settings, geographic locations, and even climatic conditions.
The 16 teams will then showcase their designs and productions at the competition site in autumn 2017. During the event, members of the general public will be given free tours of the houses as well as free presentations of the renewable energy systems, technologies and appliances that can be used effectively to save energy and minimize energy costs.
Based on the attendance of previous DOE solar decathlons, it is projected that the 2017 event will attract at least 60,000 visitors from within and out of the state. In addition to that, at least 500 middle school students are expected to attend the event in the form of school field trips.
The 2017 solar decathlon will also feature monetary awards making it a unique solar decathlon yet. According to the organizers of the event, the prize money totals to $2 million. The winner of the competition is expected to receive a whopping $300,000 while first runners-up and second runners-up receive $225,000 and $150,000 respectively.
All the other teams which will participate in the competition will also receive a$100,000 each. However, this money will only be made available to the teams once the competition ends and teams are expected to raise their own funds.
Denver has long been ranked among the top ten solar-friendly cities in the U.S.A and by hosting the event, the city of Denver will be hoping to cement this position. It will do this by creating and increasing awareness about the benefits and immense potential of solar power and in so doing, encourage investment in solar power and the solar power industry as a whole.