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German Team Wins 2009 Solar Decathlon

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the it's-always-sunny-in-dusseldorf dept.

Earth 56

An anonymous reader writes "Our team recently competed in the 2009 US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. The Solar Decathlon is a 2-year competition that challenges university students from 20 US and international teams to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house. Objective scores are based on comfort control, appliance performance, net-metering, and home entertainment. Subjective contest scores are determined by juries that weigh the engineering design, architectural design, as well as marketing and communication strategies. Team Germany took 1st place due to a large net production of electricity, while Team California claimed top honors in the Architecture contest. Minnesota won the engineering design section. However, looking beyond the contest winners, the main purpose of the event is to raise awareness about solar technology and sustainable design. As part of this campaign, products used in all 20 homes are listed on the DOE website. The most exciting aspect is that the construction and engineering documents and communication materials from all teams are open-sourced for anyone to use or modify!"

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56 comments

Hopefully ... (2, Interesting)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776383)

The most exciting aspect is that the construction and engineering documents and communication materials from all teams are open-sourced for anyone to use or modify!

... they have chosen a proper "IP-format" to avoid patent trolls to grab ideas in order to 'protect' them.

CC.

Re:Hopefully ... (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776623)

... they have chosen a proper "IP-format" to avoid patent trolls to grab ideas in order to 'protect' them.

They did, it's called publication. Nothing that YOU can do will prevent the patent office awarding someone else a patent for something you created, but publishing provides strong evidence of prior art. Way to karma whore, though.

I heard that (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776751)

they had developed solar ovens for incinerating things, but had to pull them from the competition for being politically incorrect for germans.

Re:Hopefully ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776847)

Why is it never an AFRICAN team that wins these sort of things?

Or invents anything?

Or actually does ANYTHING for the good of humanity?

Hmmm....

Re:Hopefully ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29777593)

Between about the 1400's and 1850's, 18 million Africans - usually the strongest and most able - were captured and shipped out as slaves. About 7-12 million were sent to the US. This was a huge portion of their population at the time. Also, export of slaves was the basis of their whole economy until about the 1850's when most other countries banned slavery, and they had to find "legitimate commerce."

The late 1800's brought about European Colonialism in Africa, where European powers grabbed whatever land they could and ruled over it. Countries didn't start gaining independence from these European powers until after WWII.

Since gaining independence, however, most countries have frequently been hampered by instability, corruption, violence, and authoritarianism. Democratic governments have had generally not lasted long, instead yielding to coups and later military dictatorships. Political leaders have often been military leaders with little or no education, especially in political areas. Racism and segregation of various ethnic groups has been rampant across part of the continent, and some leaders have encouraged these conflictis, in order to take stronger military control of the country. For example, the apartheid in South Africa didn't end until 1993.

From the 60's to 80's, there were 70 coups and 13 presidential assassinations, as well as constant fighting over the borders that were drawn by European colonialists. Then there's the Second Congo War, officially ended in 2003, though skirmishes still take place, is the bloodiest war since WWII, as well as the conflict in Darfur and the prevalence of AIDS and malaria in many areas.

Adding to this, in the Cold War era, countries that became independent were expected to side with the US or Russia, in case they wanted aid, further splitting the continent up.

Re:Hopefully ... (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29779359)

So where is this open-source house that I can go in and modify it, like say, knock out a wall or make a hole for a new door?

Re:Hopefully ... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29780287)

You do not get the house unless you buy it. What you get is the source code for the house. It's supposed to be availible on one of the linked websites. Instead of running

  • $configure
  • $make
  • $make install

You will have to run something more like

  • $configure
  • $buy lumber
  • $make
  • $hammer
  • $make install

Re:Hopefully ... (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776717)

I don't think design can be patented. Luckily, otherwise stealing^Wrecombining user interface ideas would not be possible.
Trademarks/Logos are another thing.

Re:Hopefully ... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29777851)

There is actually a specific form of patent called a design patent, it's not listed in the same list as regular patents though so it probably has different rules.

solar (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776401)

unless your a weathly land owner, solar is a pipe dream

Re:solar (4, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776423)

Photovoltaic maybe, but solar thermal is wholly ready now and efficient for the average home owner, especially evacuated tubes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_collector#Evacuated_tube [wikipedia.org]

A few racks of those on the roof, when coupled with a passive haus, which can be built with 5% cost of a normal house, would probably cover a 95% of normal household's heating/hot_water needs with no major electric/natural_gas/oil backup required, even in the mild climates such as the north-east states:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house [wikipedia.org]

Even in Canada, there seem to be projects revolving around that type of thing:
http://www.dlsc.ca/how.htm [www.dlsc.ca]

Photovoltaic is what, 15-30% at best? Solar Thermal can be up to 90% and evacuated tubes are pretty cheap now.

Re:solar (1, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776631)

PV is totally accessible to the homeowner who has a clue. Yes, I do expect everyone to be able to wire a PV system. Specialization is for Insects... plus, it's stupidly simple to wire PV. And if you can't figure out house wiring as an adult, you deserve to be electrocuted. You can trivially find solar panels under $3/watt. If you control your consumption, you can save absurd amounts of money. Buy a chest fridge (or add a thermostat to a chest freezer to make it a fridge) and stop heating your whole house unnecessarily (do you really need to walk around naked in the whole thing?) and you can typically save a huge percentage of your energy budget. And since most people are grid-tied, they can do without batteries. PG&E, at least, will install a time-of-use meter for free. The only really expensive part is involving an electrical contractor for the service disconnect.

Thermal is cool when you need heat, but when you need electricity it's a horribly inefficient way to go for small systems. And let's face it, we all use electricity. I realize that a lot of people are out on the street right now and not in a position to build much of anything, but for the rest of us, cutting back on nonessentials and living further within our means is enough. You don't have to build a solar system all at once, the job is easy enough to where any basically healthy adult ought to be able to do it, and to claim otherwise is to make excuses. How many times have you helped someone with a computer problem and found the problem in the help right where it ought to be, only to have the user say "If I knew it was that easy, I would have done it myself!" Well, why didn't you look in the help, you lazy fucko? The same is true of the basic skills in wiring needed for a PV installation.

Re:solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29777397)

The only options are not "out on the street" and "own your own home" you over-privileged fuck.

Re:solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776763)

how much would the houses cost? I'd like one with a net production of energy after heating/cooling expenditures.

Re:solar (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 4 years ago | (#29777589)

40%, but they're quite viable. From Emcore, you can get 1MW for 2-3 USD per watt which is competitive with all solar cell technology (but it's probably not for a single home, and it's better off for use in, say, desert area with low cloud cover and shadowing).

$/watt is pretty much standard across the whole PV industry though. But I agree with you, I don't see a great future in photovoltaic technology, I think solar-thermal is far more promising. Typically what they do is concentrate the solar energy on simple NaCl (salt) which melts it, then it runs into a water pool which generates steam to turn turbines (the only novel technology is concentrating the light which is pathetically easy, and possibly using trackers to ensure max incident light). The benefit is that is even generates power at night. The drawback is that I don't think it can be scaled down for individual use, and it's not something easily adapted to space application. From Wikipedia, it looks like it's about 2-3 orders of magnitude cheaper than PV

Re:solar (2, Insightful)

Rasta_the_far_Ian (872140) | more than 4 years ago | (#29778759)

Unfortunately, unless we pass a law that eliminates the ability of Home Owner Associations to deny approval for solar energy devices, these are not likely to become widespread.

Re:solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29780913)

eliminates the ability of Home Owner Associations to deny approval for solar energy devices

In Canada, the Ontario Supreme Court has ruled that restrictive covenants banning outdoor clotheslines are too restrictive and so are void. There is a good chance that restrictions against solar energy devices would be found similarly void; such a good chance, that I don't expect such issues will even make it to court in the future.

Re:solar (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29781273)

I agree. I believe that solar is on the cusp of becoming 'cool' in California. If that happens, I expect these kinds of rules/laws to be struck down.

Re:solar (2, Informative)

ender06 (913978) | more than 4 years ago | (#29780101)

Solar thermal can be up to 90% efficient? Have you heard of the laws of thermodynamics and Carnot efficiency? The average power plant peaks at about 60-65% efficient.

Sure, right now photovoltaics are only 15-30% for system efficiency, thats system, not just the cells. But PV is not restrained by the Carnot efficiency because it is not a heat engine. More demand = more research = better cells. Just look at the space grade cells and PV concentrator cells. World record right now is about 43% efficient.

Re:solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29781491)

Solar thermal can be up to 90% efficient? Have you heard of the laws of thermodynamics and Carnot efficiency?

Have YOU heard of the laws of thermodynamics and Carnot efficiency?

1.) Carnot efficiency is the amount of useful work (electricity, etc) that you can get from a heat engine operating between two temperatures. It has nothing to do with how efficiently you can move heat place to place (sun-absorber-hot water or hot air [solar thermal]). Heat transport without mechanical means of changing states of the working fluid IS NOT limited by carnot efficiency.

2.) If you did want to generate work with solar thermal power; the sun is viewed as a radiant energy source at an apparent surface temperature of 5777 K (though even higher temperatures may be achieved with concentration). Your power system would likely deliver waste heat at near ambient temperature (~300 K) thus the Carnot efficiency limitation is.

eta_carnot = 1-Tl/Th = 1-300/5777 = 95%

If you are going to bring up a scientific concept, be sure you understand it and have applied it properly first.

Nice but (2, Interesting)

samuX (623423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776451)

I'm very happy to see this kind of competition however from a scientific prospective i see some problem: saying you save co2 with solar energy is a bit "gross", first to produce all those solar panels you had to pollute the environment so the first question someone should ask is : ok solar is good but how much do you pollute to produce one flat panel ? Are we sure the pollution made (and i'm not speaking only about amount of CO2 but also toxic in rivers, sea etc. etc. ) to make a solar panel is less than the one we would make to make the same power from "classic" method ? CO2 savings: well this is just ridiculous: a nuclear reactor, a wind reactor, a carbon fuel power plant, a hydroelectric power plant. 4 ways of getting electricity, four different amount of Co2 produced, so from what kind of power plant does your electricity come, this is how you try to figure out your real "co2 savings" . Next thing to speak about should the fact that our pollution doesn't come only from Co2 but from toxic wastes too, so measuring pollution with Co2 is ineffective and misleading. I really DO care for my planet and sometimes looks like all this "environmental talks" are just exscuses to push new products rather than really doing something to make earth a better place for our future generations but I might be wrong .

Re:Nice but (3, Informative)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776549)

The pollution produced in the manufacturing of a solar panel is a one time cost. The pollution involved in producing & supplying a fossil fuel is an ongoing cost. All you have to do is use the solar panel for more than, say, a year, and you've already broken even in terms of pollution.
Obviously this is an oversimplification (not all forms of pollution are equal), but you get the idea.

Re:Nice but (2, Interesting)

samuX (623423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776677)

what you say is reasonable but there are a lot of assumptions and i really would like to see some numbers.
Back in the old days pc were relatively polluting and none ever thought about that. Now we know of all the toxic problem related to their making - and their reciclying - so most companies are working on making them more "green".

So what about solar panel ? Are they made with this concepts in mind or are they made just as cheap as possible without taking in account pollution made to make them or not? How long does it takes to make them "greener" or , using math, when this is true ?

"amount of electricity of one panel per day" * "X days" + "pollution produced to make that panel" > "pollution per day of a fossile fuel power plant giving the same amount of electricity"
(i really hope it's readible)

Also you forget that solar panel will not last forever, so depending on the X of the equation above you can make some good assumption rather than running to solar panel because "they told me it's green so it must be".

Re:Nice but (1)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776901)

what you say is reasonable but there are a lot of assumptions and i really would like to see some numbers. So what about solar panel ? Are they made with this concepts in mind or are they made just as cheap as possible without taking in account pollution made to make them or not? How long does it takes to make them "greener" or , using math, when this is true ?

Google is your friend. This IEEE Spectrum article [ieee.org] has some numbers.

Also, even though the panels are made to last "forever" (many manufacturers give 25-year warranties), some players in the industry are already giving the option to recycle (since it only costs 1/3 in energy terms [treehugger.com] to recycle them than to manufacture them from scratch).

Re:Nice but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29778623)

Plenty of numbers here, and very sensibly ALL-IN-THE-SAME-UNITS !

http://www.withouthotair.com/Contents.html [withouthotair.com]

Can you tell that I'm sick of reading articles that talk about "enough energy to heat 5000 houses" and other crap units?

News Flash (1)

woolio (927141) | more than 4 years ago | (#29778019)

Ever consider that both solar and the burning of fossil fuels result in pollution that are both ongoing cost?

You manufacture a solar panel and then use it for X years to get as much energy as you can. When the solar panel is discarded, you effectively paid "z" pollution (during manufacturing) for the "X" years of energy.

Alternatively, if you had used a coal-burning power plant, the energy of those "X" years would have required the burning of coal and generating "y" amount of pollution.

If you want to have energy for "2X" years, then you need either two sets of solar panel (with "2z" pollution) or two loads of coal ("2y" pollution).

Your solar panel isn't going to last forever.

If you're an accountant or have a business degree, then for tax purposes, you may differentiate between "one-time-cost" and "ongoing cost".

However, in the end, they are really the same. Only good thing about solar is the pollution cost may be comparatively better than coal.

But don't kid yourself that there is only a one-time cost.

The "one-time cost" doesn't truly exist for anything in this world.

Re:Nice but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29782809)

All you have to do is use the solar panel for more than, say, a year, and you've already broken even in terms of pollution.

More like 10-15 years at the very least probably. And many designs will simply not last that long.

Solar panels will eventually get there though. I'm all for coexistance with the rest of the nature. And it's not exactly like we have a choice.

no problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776597)

There seems to be no problem:

However, the differences in the emissions between different PV technologies are very small in comparison to the emissions from conventional energy technologies that PV could displace. As a part of prospective analysis, the effect of PV breeder was investigated. Overall, all PV technologies generate far less life-cycle air emissions per GWh than conventional fossil-fuel-based electricity generation technologies. At least 89% of air emissions associated with electricity generation could be prevented if electricity from photovoltaics displaces electricity from the grid.

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es071763q

Re:Nice but (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776675)

You ask, you'll get ananswer [oregon.gov]

Re:Nice but (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#29778641)

not only that, but I don't see that roof taking any sort of now load.
  • I wonder what wind speed will cause those panels to blow off the house.
  • What happens when it hails (grape sized and bigger) how many years will the panels last for?
  • Do they have an energy storage method, saying that by selling back to the grid they pay off the solar panels is silly because if everyone did this the price you sell back at would plummet.
  • What happens to this when it is -40F out?
  • What was the material cost as a percentage of the cost to build a similar sized conventional house?
  • What are the projected matinace costs over the life of the panels?
  • How quickly can a damaged panel be replaced? and can it be replaced on a live system or do the nearby panels need to covered up?
  • Can i run normal household appliances? how about semi uncommon ones; ex: Arc welder, a 3 axis mill?

Thats all i could think of off the top of my head. I'm sure i would have others walking around in the house.

Re:Nice but (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29779109)

Now I've seen everything. An anti-solar environmentalist! Just goes to show you, you could live for 99 years and still not experience all the world has to offer.

Re:Nice but (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29779843)

The cost of manufacturing solar panels is one of the biggest arguments against them in enviro-geek circles.... it runs similar to the arguments against buying a Prius. You get a warmfuzzy from owning one, but the amount of energy that went into the production of the batteries, the toxic cost to the environment both from the production and the ultimate disposal thereof, all the travel that the thing has done in its various component levels... you end up costing the environment more than you ever save by buying one. With regards to solar panels, that is why there's projects like the solar-thermal generators in Spain and the USA. With regards to cars, if you want to save the environment, don't buy a Prius, buy a small engined turbodiesel (ideally) or gasoline engine (in a pinch, small turbodiesels are hard to get in some parts of the world including North America). Yes, they'll use more gas than a hybrid electric, but the carbon footprint over the production and lifetime of the vehicle is nowhere near as high, especially if you keep the machine properly serviced and maintained.

It doesn't go to show you that you could live forever and not have seen everything (that's what Hollywood Blvd. in LA is for), but it does go to show you that not every environmentalist lives up to the "mental" part of the moniker. There's a lot of environmentalists out there who put in a lot of thought about how best to save the environment, and who don't automatically jump on an idea without first researching to find out whether it's really as good for the environment as it might appear on paper.

Re:Nice but (1)

ender06 (913978) | more than 4 years ago | (#29780125)

So solar cells take a lot of energy to make, no argument there. But why is it always assumed that you're not making your cells with energy from other solar cells? No, the first cells weren't made using renewable energy, but who says we can't do that now? Imagine that, a renewable loop. Oh, and don't forget that you can recycle the solar cells at the end of their lifetime to make new ones.

Re:Nice but (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29783203)

An intelligent environmentalist does not decide every technology in a big umbrella is good or bad. Solar, in theory, is the closest thing that we have to a renewable energy source. Some forms of solar power, however, cause more pollution over their life time than just burning fossil fuels. Producing photovoltaic cells is, currently, an expensive and polluting activity. There are other forms of solar power, which are generally slightly less efficient unless you have a big area, that are much cleaner and there are also various photovoltaic cell prototypes that can be produced with very little energy and material cost, but most of the cells currently on the market only just break even over their lifetime, from an environmental perspective.

Re:Nice but (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789141)

"intelligent environmentalist"? Is that one of those contradictory terms like military intelligence or jumbo shrimp? I was under the impression that it was utterly vital for us to buy as many solar cells as possible at inflated prices, in order to (make a profit) I mean, save the enviroment by advancing the science of solar cells. But, intelligence tells us we must automatically gainsay everything...I mean that's the heart of environmentalism after all.

Confession: I smell my farts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776525)

It's true- I'll waft them up to my face, or fart on something then smell that. I've noticed a difference between smelling farts off my fingers and farting into a towel and smelling that. I prefer the towel. Sometimes, right before I take a shower, I'll wipe my ass with a towel or my underwear to smell my butt-perfume. I frequently pull the covers over my own head when I fart between the sheets. Oh, and I love the smell and frequency of my hangover farts. I love leaving my room for a few minutes and coming back to smell my still-lingering farts hanging in the air. To me its kind of like climing out of the swimming pool, getting in the hot tub for a few minutes, then going back into the pool. If I want to fart without making a lot of noise I'll reach into my pants and hold my buttcheeks apart with my fingers so the gas can leave my asshole unobstructed. it actually makes a very audible "pssssssssssssss" sound. Like if someone was in earshot but they couldn't see me, they would probably be wondering if i was farting with my fingers in my ass.

Sometimes if I'm in public I'll find "discreet" ways to indulge my fart-sniffing penchance. For example I'll try to pass gas as quietly as possible, then discreetly fan my thighs open and closed so the gas is wafted up to my face.

Reply to This

Re:Confession: I smell my farts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29782521)

when i worked at toys r us if i was gonna have a smelly fart and knew it, i would fart inside a box of stuff that wouldnt be opened until christmas or whatever the furthest season was. I would quickly seal it back up and then when the season came rolling around people would bitch about how all the boxes smelled like shit. Trust me, the farts stay in there and soak in, try it sometime in an empty box, open it a week later and its worse

Really? (1)

TimeElf1 (781120) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776637)

Team Germany took 1st place due to a large net production of electricity

Huh, who would of seen that one coming? I suppose that would be due to the siding of the house made out of photovoltaic solar cells. While it's nice that one can see what you can do with near unlimited funds maybe next year they can make homes that are more practical for the rest of us.

Where to find the open sourced docs ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776689)

Hello I can't find the ingineering documents that you said they share. On the DOE web site there're only pdf files we can't use ! do you know where to find them ?

thanks

Re:Where to find the open sourced docs ? (3, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776733)

Go to the teams site e.g. http://www.solardecathlon.org/2009/team_germany.cfm [solardecathlon.org]
On the bottom right are the zip files. They contain the complete technical drawings.

What more do you want? If you want to build the exact same thing, you'll probably still need an architect. But hey, you also need a IT guy for installing bind.

Cool, on page 419 they describe how they moved the house from Darmstadt to Washington DC. So that's your blueprint for stealing it!

Re:Where to find the open sourced docs ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776769)

Thanks for your answers. But I don't wanna construct any thing I wanted some real ingineering docs to study them, i'm a french civil engineering student. the pdf are just to be watched, and the article says anyone can modify them ... I wanted "autocad" or equivalent docs and studies.

So if you find other docs tell me.

Thanks again

I'm surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776775)

I didn't know sustainability and energy efficiency was even a topic in the US of A. Good development.

Computer with no modlems / routers listed as well (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776845)

Computer with no modems / routers listed as well tv's with no cable / sat boxes listed as well.

Nice way to miss needed parts to the Products.

Congrats to the team! (3, Informative)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776935)

Congrats to the team! What TFS doesn't say, is that TU Darmstadt won this competition for the 2nd time in a row.
Our research center was involved in the energy system design for the 2007 edition, but TU Darmstadt failed to mention it anywhere.

Nice to see that they achieved to win without screwing anyone this time!

Re:Congrats to the team! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29778401)

2nd time in a row? I see 2007 and 2009 listed (or am I missing something?), that's not quite in row :p Nice anyway.

Re:Congrats to the team! (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29778933)

2nd time in a row? I see 2007 and 2009 listed (or am I missing something?), that's not quite in row :p Nice anyway.

The competition is biannual.

Re:Congrats to the team! (1)

Sir_Gimpy (861124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29779591)

Congrats to team Germany. I'm part of team Ontario-BC (we got 4th) It was a great experience, but there were problems for the contests. Team Germany even lost power for a while from the grid. And yeah, they did kinda just pile the PV panels on their house, they didn't even have a solar thermal system. I hope next year they put a limit on PV size, because it became partly a competition on who could put the most panels up for the net metering part.

All serious contenders bought German equipment (2, Informative)

Jameson Burt (33679) | more than 4 years ago | (#29780173)

I viewed these houses over four different days, from construction to display.
Among the top contenders, some equipment was obviously German,
Bosch Dishwashers and German refrigerators for most every top contender.
Others viewing these solar houses often asked where to get some equipment on the top houses.
Solar cells: Germany
Heat exchanger: Germany
Kitchen equipment: Germay
. . .: Germany
While some contest categories like architecture couldn't rely on German equipment,
this solar house contest seemed like the post WWII race for the best space program
-- who had the better German scientists, USSR or US with Werner von Braun.
Amongst these houses, who had the better German solar, heating, kitchen, ... equipment.

A couple years ago, Germany produced half the world's solar power.
While one can laud Germany, one must take note that the U.S. has bowed out of much science, technology, and the education of them (except biology, medicine, computers, and military equipment).
All the women and men on the German Team prodded the audience
and answered questions like engineers
-- a half Carribean, half German woman answered questions in contrasts
that signaled her engineering mind.
In contrast, the Virginia Tech team seemed lackadaisical
lounging around, ignorant about many aspects of their own house
-- was the Virginia Tech team just there to party?
In front of their TVs and computers, in their cars and trains,
with four times the population of Germany,
half the U.S. badmouths science and the striving for its knowledge (elitism).

Still, from wherever energy generation and usage technology comes, we are thankful.
The German house used phase-changing materials to dampen energy fluctuations,
a couple types of solar cells including some for shaded areas,
and was the only house with a second livable level.
Another house could electrically dim its windows.
The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign house sealed its doors like a commercial freezer.
One house changed one wall's colors according to cool or warm temperatures.
Thank you, scientists.

Meanwhile, ugly politics in the European Decathlon (1)

HonestButCurious (1306021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29780907)

Take a look at the home page for the European counterpart of this contest:
http://www.sdeurope.org/index.php/eng/PARTICIPATING-TEAMS [sdeurope.org]
Count carefully, and you find only 19 finalists, and not 20. Why? Because the 20th was from Ariel University Center, an Israeli university located in a settlement:
http://spme.net/cgi-bin/articles.cgi?ID=6022 [spme.net]

Somebody made some noise, and they got disqualified from the contest on political reasons (just like Leonid Levin's Ph.D. in 1972 Soviet Russia).

I can't comment on the AUC team's chance of winning, but I can comment on the sheer stupidity of ignoring scientific work because you dislike the political leanings of its authors.

UIUC completely missed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789243)

Team Cal got third place but UIUC got second place and never mentioned in the abstract. What gives?

Re:UIUC completely missed (1)

Jameson Burt (33679) | more than 4 years ago | (#29790215)

A couple days before the final scores, Team California was first.
Their house remains far better looking than Team Germany's or UIUC, which was a box whose white outside on barn wood looked like a chapped child who spent too much time outdoors.
See
http://www.solardecathlon.org/scoring/
where Team California has a much better architecture (it was beautiful, comfortable, spacious), which is the main observation one sees onsite. UIUC won only on the two ratings of "comfort zone" and "net metering", which we tourists didn't notice onsite.
I found the engineers of UIUC more talkative than those of Team California. For example, UUIC asked if two miles of wiring in the German house was a reasonable approach to a long-term robust house.
And they mentioned that there is an industry that converts old barns to wood for new buildings.

We have all heard how UIUC excels in many fields.
I wouldn't consider Team California's Santa Clara University a top tier school; nonetheless, they produced a more beautiful and architecturally intricate solar house.
UIUC was an engineer's house;
Team California's was a house regular folks would want.

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