The Solar Crown Goes to Germany

Congratulations to Team Germany for winning the 2009 Solar Decathlon. With a massive 11.1 kW array, and thin film on the walls, there was no one who could match their net metering prowess. Illinois finished second; California, third, and Ontario fourth.

Make no mistake about it. Germany won based on the strength of its PV array. It finished in the top five of the other nine categories, except for communications. On net metering, it received 150—out of a total of 150 points. Germany was able to generate electricity even when it was not just cloudy but pouring rain. The Department of Energy press release announcing the winner emphasized this remarkable accomplishment: The “Team Germany’s winning ‘Cube House’ design produced a surplus of power even during three days of rain” (our emphasis). This is our photo of the winning entry, Cube House from Germany.


Illinois kept close by scoring 137 on net metering, but its scores on architecture (its building was nondescript), market viability and communications held back its entry. And California lost big time on net metering, scoring only 100. The way that net metering was scored, if the solar home met its own needs, it scored 100, but the home could receive an additional 50 points for delivering electricity back to the grid. The California solar home met its own needs, but did not deliver back to the grid. Those 50 points cost California the solar crown.  And a solar home from our northern neighbor did exceedingly well. Ontario finished fourth. It only fell back on engineering and home entertainment.

We were all fortunate to be able to visit these solar homes on the Mall. It was a privilege to see the energy and vision of these young solar enthusiasts. They used what is available to all of us and showed us all that we can all go solar—from Puerto Rico to Ontario and British Columbia. Solar is not just for those living in Arizona and New Mexico. The technology—and financial incentives are available to all of us today.

We are already looking forward to 2011. And the next time that we see solar homes on the National Mall, we hope that one new home in Washington, DC will have a solar array of its own: the White House.

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