Versailles to Host Solar Decathlon Europe 2014
U.S.-Based Energy Design Contest Saw French Victory in 2012
Versailles, France has been named the host of the next Solar Decathlon Europe in 2014, a biannual competition among engineering students to conceive and construct home designs that rely on solar energy technology.
Teams from within and beyond Europe will compete to satisfy a 10-point set of criteria, appraised by an international jury and scored along a 1,000-point scale. Each house will be required to produce “as much or more energy than it consumes,” according to the Decathlon’s website.
The event follows the initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which has since 2002 organized contests at the university level to promote innovative engineering through a focus on photovoltaic, or solar energy, conversion.
With the spirit of competition meant to bring out the best in each team, contestants are called to combine “affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency,” the DOE’s official contest website says.
France’s status as host of the next Solar Decathlon Europe seems fitting, as the Rhône-Alpes team, based at the University of Grenoble, won the 2012 competition that closed September 29 in Madrid, Spain. The French students beat out 17 other teams for a total score of 908.72 out of the possible 1,000.
Their concept, “Canopea,” fully embraced the renewable-energy ethos. The Rhône-Alpes group built the top two floors of a larger “nanotower,” an apartment-like structure which gathers several living spaces within a single edifice. The building features a top-floor common room with semi-transparent walls and a set of photovoltaic panels covering the roof.
For the 2014 competition, the choice and architectural significance of Versailles will serve to marry “tradition and modernity,” according to a statement from the Office of Science and Technology at the Embassy of France.
In addition to the European competition, the DOE operates equivalent contests in China and a U.S.-based program open to schools from around the world. The next year will bring to the programs a total of 65 participating teams and the involvement of some 10,000 individuals.
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