Team Germany Wins the 2009 Solar Decathlon

October 16, 2009

Photo of a boxy house covered largely with dark solar panels, with a checkerboard of lighter squares added for visual appeal. The north and west side, shown in the photo, have only a few windows and one door.

The Team Germany solar home has allowed the university team from Darmstadt, Germany, to claim its second straight title as the overall winner of the Solar Decathlon. Enlarge this photo.
Credit: Jim Tetro, DOE Solar Decathlon

Team Germany took top honors in the 2009 Solar Decathlon, followed by the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in second place, and Team California in third. The winners were announced on October 16 by DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman at the competition site on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Team Germany—students from Darmstadt, Germany, whose team had won the previous Solar Decathlon in 2007—again triumphed by designing, building, and operating the most efficient solar-powered home among 20 university-led entries. Team Germany's winning "Cube House" produced a surplus of power despite three days of rain during the two-week contest. The 2009 Solar Decathlon challenged 20 teams from across the United States, as well as from Germany, Spain, and Canada, to compete in 10 contests, most of which related to the design and energy performance of the teams' solar homes.

Of those ten contests, Team Germany's surplus power production earned the Net Metering award, which carried the greatest weight at 150 points. Team Germany also won the Comfort Zone contest for 100 points by best maintaining a comfortable temperature and humidity in their home. Coming in second place overall, the University of Illinois took top honors in the Appliances contest, which involved running a refrigerator and freezer, dishwasher, washer, and dryer; the Hot Water contest, which required producing enough hot water for regular showers; and the Home Entertainment contest, which involved not only running a television, computer, lights, and a cooking appliance, but also hosting two dinner parties and a movie night, which were rated by their fellow contestants. And although the team didn't place in the top three, the University of Minnesota claimed the top spot in two juried design contests: Lighting Design and Engineering. The Engineering award honors the solar home that best exemplified excellence in energy systems design, savings, innovations, and reliability.

The Solar Decathlon concluded on Sunday, October 18, after which the teams started partially disassembling the homes and shipping them back to their places of origin. All of the solar homes must leave the National Mall by the end of today. And although the 2009 Solar Decathlon has just ended, the application process for the next Solar Decathlon, to be held in fall 2011, has already begun. The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 2011 Solar Decathlon is available on the Solar Decathlon Web site, and technical questions on the RFP will be accepted until October 22. Applications are due by November 17, and the selected teams will be notified by December 18. See the DOE press release, the Solar Decathlon Web site, and the RFP (PDF 747 KB). Download Adobe Reader.