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Solar Decathlon: Let The Games Begin!

Solar Decathlon 2011 all teams photo

Today, the Solar Decathlon officially opens to the public and the games begin.  The competition is organized by the Department of Energy, and 19 teams have invested more than two years of effort to design, build, and operate solar-powered homes that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.  The winner will be the one with the highest score after the following ten contests:
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Solar PV Install Costs Continue to Drop

solar panels in a field of the sun

The value proposition of solar energy is driving great opportunities for homeowners looking to invest in sustainable power production.  In fact, the average installed cost of a solar PV system completed in 2010 fell by 17% from the prior year, and the cost has also dropped an additional 11% so far in 2011, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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Hybrid Panels Increase Solar Efficiency

Photovoltaic panels and solar hot water panels both provide useful benefits for the buildings they are attached to, but sometimes there is limited space on the roof, and usually only one or the other is installed. Solimpeks, a solar panel manufacturer based in Turkey, has been producing solar panels for a long time, and has an elegant solution to the problem: a panel that produces both electricity and hot water. It turns out that the Solimpeks Volther dual-use panels increase efficiency more than you might expect.

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Snack on the Sun with a Solar Sandwich

New Jersey-based Englert, a company that specializes in metal roofing and gutter systems, recently earned a citation from Architect Magazine for their incredible Solar Sandwich roof system.  On the surface, it looks like any other standing-seam metal roof with columns of thin-film photovoltaic solar.  Yet below that, to capture the warmth generated from hot metal roofing, there’s a grid of pex-filled purlins with a water and glycol solution for a solar thermal system.

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19 Solar Decathlon Homes for 2011

The biennial Solar Decathlon is coming up next month with teams preparing their solar-powered homes for West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. The competition will showcase modern, energy-efficient homes from 19 teams from September 23 – October 2, 2011. We’ve taken a look at the architectural models for each home and continue our coverage this year with a look at the renderings.  There’s some great work here.  Any predictions?  Which team will take it all?

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Sunverge Powers a Net-Zero LEED Project

Sunverge has released a new Solar Integration System (SIS) package containing an inverter and battery storage unit to complement the standard residential solar PV array.  Brought to the market in February 2011, this new offering will give homeowners the opportunity to attain reliable net-zero energy status and eliminate reliance on the grid.

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