Tag Archives: Renewable Energy

Costa Rica produces 99% Electricity from renewable sources in 2015

CostaRica_Arenal_Volcano_(pixinn.net)

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said in a statement that it achieved 99 percent renewable electricity generation in 2015, as per AFP reports. Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (English: Costa Rican Institute of Electricity) (ICE) is the Costa Rican government-run electricity and telecommunications services provider. Jointly with the Radiographic Costarricense SA (RACSA) and Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz (CNFL) form the ICE Group. The institute also said for 285 days in 2015 the country managed to power its grid on 100 percent renewable sources.

The path away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy in the small Central American nation is seen as aspirational for other countries wanting to cut fossil-fuel pollution blamed on global warming. Costa Rica is lucky to have a wealth of renewable energy sources to choose from. The bulk of its power generation comes from hydropower thanks to a large river system and heavy tropical rainfalls. The rest is made up of a mix of geothermal energy, which the country is also rich in, wind, biomass and solar power.

In December 2015, the UN Climate Change conference held in Paris (COP21) struck a landmark deal committing countries to cutting their carbon emissions. Whether Costa Rica’s renewable energy model can be implemented in other countries will depend on the topography and climate of the respected countries.

For Costa Rica, the more measurable results of its renewable energy success will be known by in the earlier half of this year (2016) when a full year worth of data will be available to compare with the previous year. By then, the largest hydropower plant in Central America should be in operation.

The Reventazón Hydroelectric Project, located in the eastern province of Limón, is expected to be ready for operation by end of January 2016.The ICE is currently taking measures to protect land along the south, east, and western portions of the future lake, and are reforesting a strip of land around the lake’s perimeter. This is a commendable course of action that we wholeheartedly support, but it will not be sufficient to guarantee the future integrity of this critical biological corridor. The Reventazon Hydroelectric Project aims to set a high standard for large development projects by engaging with the community and taking unprecedented environmental steps, but are they doing enough? Significantly more strategic reforestation will be required to maintain safe migratory access through the corridor.

The citizens of the country have benefited from the cost of energy actually falling by 12% this year and the institute expects it to keep falling in the future. It’s important to remember that Costa Rica is a small nation. It has a total area of about 51,000 square kilometres, which is about half the size of the US state of Kentucky, and it has a population of only 4.8 million people. Furthermore, its primary industries are tourism and agriculture, rather than heavy, more energy-intensive industries such as mining or manufacturing. Costa Rica is an inspiration as the right steps in the right direction.The Central American nation is just one of many nations around the world that is getting behind renewable energy.

Recently, India, the world’s third-largest carbon polluter, unveiled a plan that aims to make its economy more energy-efficient and to cut carbon emissions. In this significant shift, the Indian government said that it also intends to produce about 40 percent of its electricity in 2030 from “non-fossil-fuel based sources” such as solar, wind, and hydropower.

Try this Quiz to check if your opinion is informed by Science of Climate change

Reference
http://www.grupoice.com/wps/wcm/connect/a892130047b68c02b1b8bf59b6c2010c/infograma.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
treehugger.com
inhabitat.com
thejaguarproject.com
CSMonitor.com
wikipedia.com
miamiherald.com
Thumbnail image – Arturo Sotillo(Wha’ppen) Flickr via CC

World’s first Solar Road opens in the Netherlands

The world’s first solar pathway “SolaRoad” has become a reality in the Netherlands. Since it is the Dutch, one should expect them to create a cycling road first up, and they did just that!! It is the first road that simply put, converts sunlight into electricity. Instead of the blacktop one sees toughened glass surface (a centimeter thick), under which lies the solar modules. This is the first section or the pilot road and is to be tested to learn how it can be made streamlined and more efficient.

Image Courtesy www.Inhabitat.com

The solar panel sections being laid down

is in Krommenie, (suburb of Amsterdam) along the provincial road N203, next to the Texaco garage on the railway trackside. It is 70 meters (approximately 230 feet) long right now and will be extended to 100 meters (330 feet) by 2016. SolaRoad has been developed by a consortium consisting of TNO, the Province of North-Holland, Ooms Civiel and Imtech Traffic&Infra. The Dutch Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs officially opened SolaRoad to the public on The 12th of November 2014. The minister and his assistant rode a bike to inaugurate the road. The whole width of the pilot road is not paneled. One half is paneled, while on the other half different options for topping the road are being tried out.

Image Courtesy SolaRoad Website

Inaugural Ride By Minster Kamp

The idea of a Solar road which could convert sunlight into usable energy has been around in all seriousness since 2009. There was also a TedX talk on the same topic by Scott Brusaw at TEDxSacramento follow the link to the video.

The skeptics still feel that not being able to tilt the solar panels to follow the sun would reduce productivity by a close to 30%. Same thing can happen if a thick layer of mud, dirt, snow or ice covers the surface. These things will all be answered when the road is tested in real time. Last but not the least is the cost factor – building a road 100 meters long has cost close to $3.5million!!

Image Source SolaRoad Website

Solar Roadway Aerial view, left hand side is the solar part and the right hand side has the different top layers being tried

As per the SolaRoad website – SolaRoad is a pioneering innovation in the field of energy harvesting. It is a unique concept, which converts sunlight on the road surface into electricity: the road network works as an inexhaustible source of green power. SolaRoad is sustainable and can be used in practice in many different ways. SolaRoad is being developed as prefabricated slabs. It consists of concrete modules of 2.5 by 3.5 meters with a translucent top layer of tempered glass, which is about 1 cm thick. Underneath the glass are crystalline silicon solar cells. The top layer immediately shows an important difference from the traditional road surface. It has to be translucent for sunlight and repel dirt as much as possible. At the same time, the top layer must be skid resistant and strong enough in order to realize a safe road surface. This is one of the technical challenges of SolaRoad.

The premise behind the SolaRoad project is very optimistic and will make a huge difference if taken to a financially viable level. Right now the pilot road has been built at a cost of close to $3.5Million and the test period is three-years, various measurements will be taken and tests performed to enable SolaRoad to undergo further development. The goal is to utilize energy the road produces to run street lights homes etc…

So Yeah!! now there are solar paneled Bicycle lanes in the Netherlands, check them out next time you are in Amsterdam!! IMHO It is a step in the right direction, may be somewhere in the future one of Nostradamus’s predictions will give way to glass snakes enveloping the earth in the place of black snakes!!

Want to see a video about the SolaRoad? Check it out below >>

Source –

SolaRoad Website

 

Best Conditions for Generating Solar Energy

Solar panels use PV (photovoltaic) cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Assessing whether your property’s roof is in a good position to generate solar power is essential before committing to installing any solar energy technology.

Roof position

Your roof will need to face south or within 90 degrees of south and should be in a relatively sunny position. If your roof is overshadowed for part of the day then this will generate less power. As well as this your roof needs to be structurally sound and in a fit enough state to be able to support the weight of the panels.
The Energy Saving Trust advises that your roof should be at a pitched angle of between 30 and 50 degrees from the horizontal for best performance. If you have a flat roof, panels can be attached to a frame tilted at the optimum angle.

Housing Energy Advisor suggests that you use free online solar angle calculator to calculate the best angle for each month of the year and then work out an average. Alternatively, you could make the most of the summer sunshine by calculating the optimum angle for June and setting your panels in that position. This would be the best option if you want to produce as much energy as possible to sell back to the national grid. A third option would be to set your panels at the optimum angle for the winter months. In this scenario, it would be likely that you would still be able to produce enough energy for the summer months, but this will give the additional benefit of reducing the amount of energy you need to buy in the winter. Unfortunately this would also reduce the amount of surplus energy you’ll be able to sell.

Weather conditions

Solar energy systems will produce energy all year round, but will produce significantly less during the winter months. Solar panels can still generate energy even on a cloudy day and the Energy Saving Trust even estimates that a system can still generate up to a 1/3 of the energy on a cloudy day that would usually be produced on a sunny day.

Regular amounts of rainfall are essential to the efficient operation of solar panels, as this cleans off any dust and dirt that could settle on them and could prevent the sun’s rays from being efficiently harnessed. This also helps to keep the panels cool, which benefits the panels as they operate with greater efficiency at lower temperatures.

Guest Article by Amy Catlow.

Solar Wind: Answer to Earth’s Energy Quest?

Read this article on College News titled “Dyson-Harrop satellites: The answer to the energy crisis?” On reading the entire article I understood that 2 Washington State University Scientists Brooks L. Harrop and Dirk Schulze-Makuch were proposing that a solar wind power satellite that could be an answer to the world’s energy crisis.

Solar Wind Ions charging the Moon by NASA

Solar Wind Ions charging the Moon by NASA

Wondering what is “Solar Wind”? I did too! The solar wind is a stream of energized, charged particles, primarily electrons and protons, flowing outward from the Sun, through the solar system at speeds as high as 900 km/s and at a temperature of 1 million degrees (Celsius).

Harrop and Schulze-Makuch suggest using a massive 8,400-kilometer-wide (5,220-mile-wide) solar sail to harvest the power in solar wind, the team hopes their concept could generate 1 billion billion giga Watts of power, far more power than humanity needs — if they can get that power back to Earth.

Concept of the Dyson Sphere has been around for 50 years, the scientists do not consider it a pragmatic solution, as it requires excessive matter to create and too much energy to stabilize. The technology needed to realize such a device is far beyond what we are capable of at this time.

What is the Dyson-Harrop (DH) satellite?

DH satellites use electrons from solar winds to generate energy, and then use photons from the sun to eject the used electrons.  It’s best said by Harrop and Schulze-Makuch, “DH satellites can be produced to collect any amount of power desired, up to the total energy of the Sun.”

What are its pros and cons?

Pros:

  • Easy to manufacture and it is made almost entirely of copper with no circuitry. The copper would capture electrons flowing out from the sun.
  • Modeling suggests it is an effective generator – modeling suggests that the DHS can provide power at a rate that increases proportionally to the square of current through the Main Wire.
  • Even large satellites have a minimal impact on the Sun’s solar wind output.
  • They believe it may be possible to design a satellite that can remain in a stationary position.

Cons

  • Compared to the Dyson sphere, the DHS generates power at a fairly low rate.
  • Initially it could be used to power the space station or satellites, rather than the earth.
  • The simplicity of the DHS could also be its downfall – this model possesses no method of protecting itself from debris or actively maintaining its position.
  • Heat dissipation could also be an issue.
  • Distributing power – Right now they are looking at existing laser technology to transmit power to a collector on earth, the accuracy from that large a distance allows for very little error in aiming.
  • By their own admission they have not made allowances for engineering difficulties.

Opinion:

The idea of a clean energy dependent sustainable lifestyle is mind-blowing! It is fascinating via research new ideas and new horizons keep coming up. Hopefully some day this idea will be feasible enough and create enough energy for the human race to survive.

Sources –

Harrop and Dirk Schulze-Makuch

Brooks L. Harrop and Dirk Schulze-Makuch (2010). The Solar Wind Power Satellite as an alternative to a traditional Dyson Sphere and its implications for remote detection. International Journal of Astrobiology, 9, pp 89-99 doi:10.1017/S1473550410000066

College News Article By Misty Mix

MSNBC article

EPA Green Power Community Challenge

GPP

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is kicking off its national “Green Power Community Challenge,” a year-long campaign to encourage cities, towns, villages, and Native American tribes to use renewable energy and fight climate change. Purchases of green power help to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and also help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity across the United States.

To participate in the challenge, a local government must join EPA’s Green Power Partnership and use green power in amounts that meet the program’s purchase requirements. The local government must also conduct a campaign to encourage local businesses and residents to collectively buy or produce green power on-site in amounts that meet EPA requirements.

Green power is generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and low-impact hydropower. Green power resources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to conven tional power technologies, and produce no net increase of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Challenge will begin on September 20, 2010. EPA will update the rankings in December 2010, March 2011, and June 2011. Communities will be able to review the standings and make changes to their purchases until September 1, 2011, when the final green power use is determined. Throughout the Challenge EPA will provide technical and outreach assistance to participants to help them increase their green power usage rates.

The winning GPCs will receive special recognition from EPA, including being featured on the GPP website and in a nationally released press announcement. The two winning GPCs will also receive awards and be featured in an outreach and media event.

More information on EPA’s Green Power Community Challenge: http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/gpcchallenge

More information about EPA’s Green Power Communities:
http://epa.gov/greenpower/communities/index.htm

Futuristic Off Shore Wind turbines: The Wind Lens

Kyushu University professor Yuji Ohya has developed an ultra efficient wind turbine which is unlike anything we have seen before. At the Yokohoma Renewable Energy International Exhibition 2010, Professor Ohya and his team unveiled the Wind Lens, a honeycomb-like structure which supposedly triples the amount of wind energy that can be produced by off shore turbines.

The basic tenet of the Wind lens is kind of like a lens concentrating solar energy onto photo voltaic surfaces, here the ring like structure “the hoop” acts like a wind collector concentrating the wind onto the turbines. The structure has a 112 meter diameter and supposedly will also reduce noise pollution. According to reports verification experiments show that wind lens turbines produce 3 times as much electricity as those without a hoop.

According to Professor Yuji Ohya  even a gentle breeze can accelerate the revolution of the turbines considerably. The 2.5 meter-wide blades can, at with wind speed of 5 meters a second, can provide a sufficient amount of electricity to power an average household. There is a diffuser placed along the edge of the turbine which does not rotate there by reducing the vortices and increasing efficiency.

The smaller size of the turbines could in the long run make it cheaper to manufacture, for now though they are pricey.

My Opinion

To me anything that interferes with the Ocean and is man-made is not safe until proven safe for the environment around and in the Oceans. So though impressed by the design aspect and the increased efficiency of the wind lens I will wait to see the environmental impact studies.

Check out Professor Yuki Ohya’s website for more details here

Read more about the Wind Lens and Yokohoma Exhibition here

CNN article here

Inhabitat.com article is here

Solar Energy Now a Viable Large Scale Energy Source?

When I read “Solar Power is Cheaper than Nuclear Power” I seriously thought someone was trying to pull a quick one by talking about 20 years into the future as if it was happening in the present. Then I read the article on The Green Energy Collective Website in detail and was thrilled by the realization that 2 researchers at Duke University have come to the conclusion that Solar Energy may have reached grid parity!

It’s no secret that the cost of photovoltaic cells (PV) have been dropping for years. A PV system today costs just 50 percent of what it did in 1998. Breakthroughs in technology and manufacturing combined with an increase in demand and production have caused the price of solar power to decline steadily. Nuclear Power plants are being pushed as the only viable alternative economically right now. But now the Duke researchers are saying that Solar power has attained price parity in regards to Nuclear power.

The Study authors John Blackburn and Sam Cunningham say “Electricity from new solar installations is now cheaper than electricity from proposed new nuclear plants.” They have their study based in North Carolina.

According to Osha Davidson of Energy Collective, if the data analysis is correct, the pricing would represent the “Historic Crossover” claimed in the study’s title.

Two factors not stressed in the study bolster the case for solar even more:

1) North Carolina is not a “sun-rich” state. The savings are likely to be even greater for states with more sunshine –Arizona, southern California, Colorado, New Mexico, west Texas, Nevada and Utah.

2) The data include only PV-generated electricity, without factoring in what is likely the most encouraging development in solar technology: concentrating solar power (CSP).

Power costs are generally measured in cents per kilowatt hour – the cost of the electricity needed to illuminate a 1,000 watt light bulb (for example) for one hour. When the cost of a kilowatt hour (kWh) of solar power fell to 16 cents earlier this year, it “crossed over” the trend-line associated with nuclear power.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Currently US energy supply depends 70% on Fossil Fuels (including Coal) and 20% on Nuclear Energy. The researchers say that mass produced Solar energy is being offered to customers at 14cents per kilo Watt Hour, which would make Solar energy one of the least expensive energy sources in America.

As I looked it up for more details I came across articles in NYTimes and a discussion on Slashdot both make some very interesting reading.

If what the researchers say hold true, we should have greener energy powering our day to day activities within a decades time. Sounds good will have to wait and see how it pans out. Live Green!

Some interesting facts:

  • From 1943 to 1999 the U.S. government paid nearly $151 billion, in 1999 dollars, in subsidies for wind, solar and nuclear power, Marshall Goldberg of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, a research organization in Washington, wrote in a July 2000 report. Of this total, 96.3 percent went to nuclear power, the report said.
  • According to credit rating agency Moody’s Nuclear installations invariably lower the credit rating of the company. “Of the 19 applications at the N.R.C.(US Nuclear Regulatory Commission) , 90 percent have had some type of delay or cancellation, run into a design problem, suffered cost increases and/or had the utility bond rating downgraded by Wall Street.”
  • Nuclear subsidies in the Senate proposal include five-year accelerated depreciation; tax credits for investments and production and eligibility for the advanced energy tax credit; an increase in government insurance against regulatory delays; access to private activity bonds; and a $36 billion increase in loan guarantees, bringing the total to $56 billion. (The Nuclear Energy Institutes Goal was a $100 Billion!)

Source of the article here

Another article here

Duke University Website

The Study Published by the researchers in full can be read here

Solar Impulse: The “Utopian” Flight of Fancy Realized!

According to the American Poet and Novelist James Dickey “Flight is the only truly new sensation than men have achieved in modern history” and I tend to agree.

Flight in itself helped humankind shorten the distances across the oceans and gave wings to mans imagination, it also helped man reach the moon and beyond. Like Bill Gates said The Wright Brothers created the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing.  The airplane became the first World Wide Web, bringing people, languages, ideas, and values together”. It has been 100 plus years since the first flight by the Wright brothers and the planes have gone from biplane gliders to supersonic jets and beyond. Until now the faster plane did not mean it was focusing on fuel efficiency, mostly longer flights meant larger engines and higher fuel capacity. In today’s move towards a greener energy solution and a lower carbon footprint it looked as though the flights were one of the things which we would be still running on oil however pricey it got.

I called it a flight of fancy not to trivialize it, but to say how unbelievably awestruck I am! The 20th century has had its share of amazing discoveries from the first flight to the moon landing, conquering the Everest and the Poles, circum navigating the earth faster than the previously estimated etc… It was also the century when humankind adversely effected the environment most and created the need for alternative energy sources a priority for the survival and sustenance of our planet.

On the 7th of June 2010 something spectacular happened, which helped take the journey in the skies to the next level- A flight powered purely by the Sun- Solar Impulse!!

The Brains behind the Solar Impulse Piccard and Borschberg Pictures from Solar Impulse

The team led by two pilots- innovators & visionaries: Bertrand Piccard, psychiatrist and aeronaut, who made the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight, is the initiator and chairman AND André Borschberg, an engineer and graduate in management science, a fighter pilot and a professional airplane and helicopter pilot, as the CEO started their journey towards creating The Solar Impulse in 2003 and announced it in the May of 2007. The former’s avant-garde vision and the latter’s entrepreneurial and managerial experience are an ideal combination. The idea at the heart of the Solar Impulse project is to get closer to perpetual flight in a machine powered only by solar energy. This challenge necessitated the use of technology unique to this type of aircraft, such as that linked with the gathering of energy via photovoltaic cells and storing it in batteries for use in powering the engines at night.

On the morning of 07/07/2010 at 6.51 AM in Switzerland André Borscherg CEO and co-founder of the Solar impulse project took to the skies in the Solar Impulse HB-SIA from the Payerne Airbase. The flight was powered by 12,000 solar panels built into its enormous 63.4meter wing, which charged its 400kg of batteries during the long ascent. The flight successfully completed its aim of 24 hours in the flight using nothing but solar power and landed back in the Payerne Airbase after 26 hours and 9 minutes having successfully completed its mission. The organizers said the flight was the longest and highest by a piloted solar-powered craft, reaching an altitude of just over 28,000 feet above sea level at an average speed of 23 knots, or about 26 miles per hour.

After the flight landed successfully André Borschberg said from the cockpit of the Solar Impulse “During the whole of the flight, I just sat there and watched the battery charge level rise and rise! Sitting in a plane producing more energy than it consumes is a fantastic feeling”.

Bertrand Piccard added “This is a highly symbolic moment: flying by night using solely solar power is a stunning manifestation of the potential that clean technologies offer today to reduce the dependency of our society on fossil fuels!”.

The Associated Press quoted Dr. Piccard as saying “When you took off, it was another era. You land in a new era where people understand that with renewable energy you can do impossible things.”

The project’s designers had set out to prove that — theoretically at least — the plane, with its airliner-size, 208-foot wingspan, could stay aloft indefinitely, recharging batteries during the day and using the stored power overnight. “We are on the verge of the perpetual flight,” Dr. Piccard said.

“The airplane is the means of transport using the most energy and it alone represents more than 3 % of the total gas emissions contributing to the greenhouse effect on the planet! As an aerial photographer I know something about this. If all airplanes were to become solar, this would be tremendous. And Piccard is a dreamer: I know of nothing more extraordinary than helping people realise their dreams.”-Yann-Arthus Bertrand

There might or might not come a time when a 300 passenger plane flies on solar power alone. In the mean while even as a single person flight it gives us hope that a greener option is possible. And like the Solar impulse website says “if we do not invest in the scientific means to develop new energy sources, we shall find ourselves in a major crisis, which will prevent us from handing over the planet to the next generation.”


You can read more about the Solar Impulse on its website HERE

Pictures source Solar Impulse.com

Find the Article on Solar Impulse flight in the NY times here

A Solar Panel That Catches Full Solar Spectrum

Source of Picture www.inhabitat.org

Solar panels in the market now only have an efficiency of up to 15% at the maximum, most are between10-12% normally. That means only 10-12% of the sun light is being utilized now. Scientists have been working hard to find a way to increase the efficiency by shaping the panels differently, using mirrors etc… Now RoseStreet Labs has managed to increase the efficiency 3 fold! They have created a solar cell which uses 3 different layers of Photo Voltaic cells in a single layer thin-film solar panel to capture different spectrum’s of the Sun’s radiation.

RoseStreet Labs Energy Inc.(RSLE) had this to say in a press release dated Sept 29th 2009 “RoseStreet Labs Energy, Inc. (RSLE) announced today a breakthrough demonstration of the first known Nitride/silicon tandem solar cell. Utilizing the same Nitride material technology as solid state lighting and blue lasers, RSLE fabricated and tested a working photovoltaic cell that couples a silicon solar cell with a Nitride Thin Film. This is a major milestone in RSLE’s product roadmap to achieve substantially higher solar efficiencies than standard silicon or other thin film solar cells.”

They used their IBand technology to achieve this new development and are the first to do so. The idea of integrating three bands — each band capturing a different part of the spectrum — has been around for a while but this is the first proven success. RSLE’s demonstration device was fabricated on high volume CVD technology, validating the potential for high volume commercialization. The company says this technology illustrates great promise for high efficiency thin film solar efficiencies above 35% by potentially capturing the full spectrum of the sun’s spectrum.

Read the first Press Release by RoseStreet Labs Here

Read Related articles about it at Renewable Energy World or  Inhabitat


An Interesting read about Thin Film Solar:

Thin Film Solar Cells: Fabrication, Characterization and Applications

Congratulation Virginia Tech Winners of Solar Decathlon 2010

CONGRATULATIONS Virginia Tech! Virginia tech’s Lumenhaus won the Solar Decathlon 2010 in Madrid Spain. University of Applied Sciences Rosenheim and the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences came in at second and third places, respectively.

Virginia Tech team with the Solar Decathlon Trophy

Fachochschule fur Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin is announced the winner of the Solar Systems Award.University of Applied Sciences Rosenheim is the winner of the Electrical Energy Balance Award and also the Appliances and Functioning Award.

Over 190,000 people visited the Villa Solar 2010.The public’s favorite houses were the Fablab House from the Instituto de Arquitectura Avanzada de Cataluña and the SML House from the Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera.

The web’s favorite was Re:focus from the University of Florida. Congratulations also to all the young sustainable Green architects and creators of all the participating teams you are the hope of the future!

The Solar Decathlon

Solar Decathlon was held in Spain this year. For those of us who are hearing about it for the very first time it is normal to wonder “What is the Solar Decathlon?”

The Solar Decathlon is a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy in which universities from across the globe meet to design and build an energetically self-sufficient house that runs only on solar energy, is connected to a power grid, and incorporates technologies that maximize its energy efficiency.

In the final phase of the competition, teams will assemble their prototypes in the so-called Villa Solar. The prototypes designed by the participating teams will then compete in a set of ten contests (Decathlon) in order to demonstrate the self-sufficiency and energy efficiency of each house.”

History of the competition

The Solar Decathlon is held every 2 years; the first edition of the Solar Decathlon was held in 2002; the second in 2005; the third in 2007. The previous competition was held in October 2009 and 20 teams representing as many universities from the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Germany and Spain competed. The German team from the Technische Universität Darmstadt won the decathlon in 2009.

All of the competitions that have been held so far have been located in the National Mall in Washington D.C., and have resulted in great media and social impact, with more than 100,000 visitors attending the competition. This year the number of visitors alsmost doubled to 190,000 plus!

Europe is hosting its first Solar Decathlon; Villa Solar 2010 is being held in Madrid Spain and 17 universities have been shortlisted from across the world, they are the following in order of their final ranking- The top 5 also have the points they received. Virginia Tech won by less than a point!!:

  1. Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University 811.83
  2. University of Applied Sciences Rosenheim 810.96
  3. Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences 807.49
  4. Ecole national Superieure darchitecture de Grenoble 793.84
  5. Aalto University Finland 777.01
  6. Bergische Universitat Wuppertal
  7. Arts et Metiers Paris Tech
  8. University of Florida
  9. Unviversidad CEU Cardenal Herrera
  10. Fachchochschule fur Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin
  11. Tongji University Shanghai
  12. Universidad Politecnica de Catalunya
  13. Universidad de Sevilla
  14. Universidad de Valladolid
  15. University of Nottingham
  16. Tianjin University
  17. Instituto de Architecture Avanzada de Cataluna

Watch the Virginia Tech’s documentary about the Lumenhaus on Youtube


Virginia Tech Team and its Lumenhaus
Given Below is the Description given by the team about their project on SDEurope.org

The Concept

Inspired by the Farnsworth House by Mies Van Der Rohe, the house offers an open configuration which connects the houses inhabitants to the outdoors.

The Design

The interior and exterior of the house are joined together by a smooth transition when the Eclipses System is open, contributing to a feeling of transparency. When the weather is nice, the windows can be opened to expand both the physical and psychological appearance of the space. The floor of the house doubles in size, and the southern and northern walls disappear to make the rooms seem as if they have no barriers or limitations. The multi-layered wall-changing system allows for various forms of spatial organization and therefore different perceptions of the house. The central core plays an important role in allowing different configurations in the houses interior.

Each area of the house is set up for specific activities, but they are designed to be flexible and can be adjusted according to individual needs. For example, the doors within the central core incorporate the work area, storage and entertainment units, but may be shifted to close off the bedroom from the rest of the house in order to create a more private area. The kitchen can be transformed into a bar, and the dining table can be left outdoors during warm summer evenings. The modular design also means that the entire house is flexible and that multiple units can be connected or placed one above the other (connected by stairs) to create a house with 3 or 4 bedrooms.

The Technology

From its construction to its transportation, the house employs responsive architecture and other similarly advanced technological features.

Radiating heat in the concrete floor

The concrete floor features a radiating floor heating system. This heats the house through a geothermal pump, which draws in heat during the winter and cools the floor during the summer. This procedure requires less energy use, making the house more efficient. In addition, the geothermal heat pump produces hot water as a byproduct during the summer.

Photovoltaic System

The rooftop photovoltaic system has the ability to vary its angle in order to maximize the efficiency of the power gained from the sun. It is controlled through a computerized user interface that can be connected to an iPhone. In fact, the user can control all of the functions, including the Eclipsis System, the photovoltaic system, the temperature, the electricity and the entertainment devices, with the simple use of an iPhone.

Placed second overall and winners in Appliances & Functioning and Electrical Energy Balance

Rosenheim Placed Second

Stuttgart Placed Third

All the houses and the technologies used are mind blowing and very inviting to live in 🙂 Sustainable Green living sure looks like a safer future in these hands!

The rest of the videos and more can be found here http://vimeo.com/tag:solardecathloneurope

Source for pictures and info