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Department of Energy announces California location for Solar Decathlon 2013

Workers from Team California constructing a home on the National Mall at the Energy Department's 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC.
Workers from Team California constructing a home on the National Mall at the Energy Department's 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty Images

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U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced yesterday that the Solar Decathlon 2013 event will be held in Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California in the fall of 2013. Solar Decathlon 2013, like its predecessors, is a biennial event in which 20 collegiate teams from around the U.S. and the world compete to construct solar-powered, energy-efficient homes that are affordable, appealing to consumers, and excellent in their design. The event is named a “Decathlon” because it includes ten separate categories, such as Architecture, Market Appeal, Engineering, and Affordability.

California (including the Los Angeles area) is highly represented in Solar Decathlon 2013, with teams from Santa Clara University, Stanford University, Southern California Institute of Architecture/California Institute of Technology, and the University of Southern California.

According to the Department of Energy, the purpose of the Solar Decathlon competition is to “highlight[] renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies, products and appliances that are already available to homeowners”, and to provide students “with unique training that prepares them to enter our nation’s clean energy workforce.” Each team will have nearly two years, beginning now, to design, construct, and disassemble their model homes, for reassembly during the event. Moreover, the new location of Solar Decathlon 2013 at Orange County Great Park, instead of its five-time home on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is intended to permit many Southern California residents and visitors to experience the event and the livable technology that it will create.

Solar Mentioned in President Obama’s State of the Union Address

In his State of the Union address last Tuesday, President Obama spent several minutes discussing his renewable energy proposals, including solar energy, stating that:

Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

Our experience with shale gas, our experience with natural gas, shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don't always come right away. Some technologies don't pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.

I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We've subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough.

It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable and double down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean-energy tax credits. Create these jobs.

We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives…. [T]here's no reason why Congress shouldn't at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation.

I'm directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes. And I'm proud to announce that the Department of Defense, working with us, the world's largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history, with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.

Thus, the Solar Decathlon would appear to dovetail with President Obama’s proposals for a future that includes a healthy dose of American-made renewable energy technology, including solar power.

© 2012 Matthew Emmer -- All Rights Reserved

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