In the end, it came down, appropriately, to solar power.
The German team‘s emphasis on solar electrical production allowed their house to edge out entries by Illinois (#2) and California (#3), in the final competition of the 2009 Solar Decathlon: Net metering.
If you’re not familiar with that term, write it down, because it’s one of the keys to the solar revolution (in addition to helping Germany win this year’s competition). Net metering is both a technological term and a policy decision. On the technology side, net metering is the ability to generate more solar power than your house consumes. Policy-wise, it is the legal ability to sell that excess power back to your utility.
Where are the solar panels on the German entry? Well, if you’re standing outside looking at the house, you’re looking at them. The cube-shaped home has a skin made of solar cells, giving it a capacity of 11.1-kW — roughly twice as much power as the house uses.
On top, the roof is made of highly efficient silicon panels. But the sides are covered with thin-film solar cells that don’t use silicon. The thin-film cells have two advantages, however. They are cheaper to produce than silicon photovoltaic cells (PV), and they produce more energy on cloudy days. We’ll have to talk with Decathlon officials to determine if the thin-film PVs helped put the Germans over the top. We do know, however, that the German team scored all 150 points possible in the net-metering segment, with second place Illinois getting 137.236 points and the number three Cali team earning 100.239 points.
The final score totals are below along with team rankings. We’ll be back with more later in the day.
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