Let The Games Begin!
The 20 student teams were excited though a few could be foundnapping, finally getting a little down time after days ofround-the-clock work. Everyone was voting for their People’s ChoiceAward — from your cell phone text code HOUSE31 to 99503 for Team California — and wandering the mall to check out the houses before the crowds arrived.
Students proudly pointed to their electric meters and how much powertheir panels were pushing into the grid, taking advantage of theopening ceremony to generate excess power. A German student voiced itclearly, “if this was your house and you were at work, you’d begenerating electricity for someone else and (at least in Germany wherethey have feed-in tariffs) getting credited for the electricity.”
Secretary Chu drove home the message that solar panel prices aredropping rapidly following a path similar, but not as aggressive asMoore’s Law and how the balance of systems is now exceeding modulecosts. The Decathlon houses show ideas to bring that differentialcloser and when we can get the balance closer “solar will really takeoff”.
The Secretary announced $87 million in awardsto fund solar research and advance the technology and deployment. Hepointed to energy efficiency as being important as energy generation tothe future of the United States. Encouraging the energetic andidealistic students, he stated, “Yes you are saving the planet, but youare saving your own money as well.” These wonderful homes willeventually be the cost effective model for our future homes.
Mike Splinter, Applied’s CEO, gave a shout out to Team Californiawhile also recognizing Decathlon Director Richard King for organizingthe Solar Decathlon. ”Undertaking a project this complex whilemaintaining a complete school load takes passion. It is more than acompetition; it’s a symbol of energy innovation, the promise of cleantechnology around the world. It is a peak through the window of what wewill live in, in the next generation. A way we can make an impact onthe planet if we take this seriously.”
This project puts something unique on these students’ resumes thatwill help many of them get future green jobs. Now, we just have to putthe right policies in place so there are jobs to offer them when theygraduate.
Image: AppliedMaterials CEO Mike Splinter, left, and US Secretary of Energy StevenChu, right, officially opening the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington,D.C.
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