National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) - Innovation for Our Energy Future
News Release

Energy Secretary Abraham Opens Solar Village on National Mall in Washington, DC


Thursday, September 26, 2002

14 University Teams Competing in DOE's First Solar Decathlon

Washington, D.C.-This morning, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham officially opened the first Solar Decathlon on the National Mall. Standing in front of the nation's Capitol building and a Solar Village, composed of 14 solar-powered, highly energy efficient homes, Abraham congratulated the students for their creative labor and attended the ribbon cutting to begin a 10-day competition among university teams from around the country.

"The U.S. Department of Energy is proud to sponsor the first-ever Solar Decathlon, a university competition that brings together our nation's brightest minds to demonstrate practical ways of producing and using energy efficiently in the home," said Secretary Abraham. "Student teams will compete to capture, convert, store, and use enough solar energy to power our modern lifestyle." The Solar Decathlon runs from Sept. 26 to Oct. 5. To win, a team must blend aesthetics and modern conveniences with maximum energy production and efficiency. In appearance, the homes are a mix of traditional and modern, but all are powered entirely by the sun and incorporate state-of-the-art energy efficiency technologies. The solar decathletes are tasked with devising ways to harness the power of the sun to supply all the energy for an entire household, including a home-based business, along with the transportation needs of the household and business. The short-term objective of the Solar Decathlon is to build a completely solar-powered house, but a key long-term objective of the competition is education:

"We hope that the Solar Decathlon will inspire those who tour these homes to think differently about the energy they use," Secretary Abraham added. "To learn how to use less energy than they do now, or to learn how to generate their own power from the sun. Renewable energy is here to stay. It's real. It works. And its future is bright."

The Solar Decathlon is open to the public. Exhibits with information on each team's home, the contest and renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are adjacent to the Solar Decathlon village on the Mall between 4th Street and 7th Street and between the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and the west building of the National Gallery of Art.

Sponsors of the Solar Decathlon, in addition to DOE, include BP Solar, The Home Depot, EDS, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

BP Solar, one of the world's leading solar electric companies, manufactures, designs, markets and installs a wide range of crystalline silicon and new generation thin film solar electric products and systems. BP Solar has contributed discounted solar panels as well as advice on solar power systems, money for building the Solar Village, and volunteers.

Founded in 1978, The Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer and the largest retailer of energy conservation products. The Home Depot has contributed free and discounted building supplies for the Solar Decathlon teams, advice on construction, money for building the Solar Village, and volunteers.

EDS, the leading global services company, provides strategy, implementation, business transformation and operational solutions for clients managing the business and technology complexities of the digital economy. EDS has contributed wireless communications and Internet services for the Solar Village, as well as financial contributions and volunteers. EDS will also host "Technology Day" on Oct. 4.

Since 1875, the American Institute of Architects has represented the professional interests of America's architects. AIA works to achieve a higher standard of professionalism for architects while expressing their commitment to excellence in design and livability in our nation's buildings and cities. AIA has provided advice to teams, contest judges and volunteers.

NREL is a DOE national laboratory managed by Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel. In addition to its work in solar photovoltaics and energy-efficient buildings, the lab is a leading center for research into wind energy, plant- and waste-derived fuels and chemicals, advanced vehicle design, geothermal energy and hydrogen fuel cells.

For more on the Solar Decathlon, see http://www.solardecathlon.org

News media contacts:
Jill Schroeder Vieth, 202/586-4940
Tom Welch, 202/586-5806
Gary Schmitz (NREL), 303/818-9944

For more information, please contact NREL Public Affairs at (303) 275-4090 or email public.affairs@nrel.gov

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