Third Annual Solar Decathlon Kicks Off in D.C.

Third Annual Solar Decathlon Kicks Off in D.C.

The Department of Energy's (DOE) third Solar Decathlon kicked off Friday with 20 teams from the world's top universities competing to build the most energy efficient home powered only by the sun.

The competition brought the 20 modular homes to the National Mall, where 100,000 are expected to attend. The winners will be announced Oct. 19.

The University of Colorado at Boulder won the two previous Solar Decathlons held in 2002 and 2005. Participants hail from as far away as Spain, Canada and Germany.

The modular homes measure about 800-square-feet and will be judged by the DOE and National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Each team was given $100,000 toward the construction and design of the homes, but some cost as much as $1 million to build.

The winning team will have demonstrated livability and modern comfort with maximum energy production and optimal efficiency, said Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman Friday at the opening ceremony.

"The Solar Decathlon is about improving and enlarging the ways we develop and apply solar energy technology," Bodman said. "And now, with global energy demand expected to double over the next 30 years, we have reached a point where there is a convergence of enhanced energy efficiency with the need to generate clean, secure energy."