January 1, 2009

Americans expend as much energy on transportation as they do on powering their homes.

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    Courtesy of Photo by Stefano Paltera/Solar D.
    Courtesy of Photo by Stefano Paltera/Solar D.
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solar decathlon solar cars1
A fleet of solar cars; the winner in this category, University of Colorado, set a record of over 300 miles—powered on energy garnered from a solar house. Image courtesy of Photo by Stefano Paltera/Solar D.

Unfortunately, solar cars are still in the experimental phase, just ahead of rocket packs and a Stargate in the futuristic-transportation queue. So the honchos at the Solar Decathlon decided to use electric cars instead, and—you guessed it—the houses had to provide all the juice.

One of the ten judging categories was Getting Around, in which the solar houses had to convert enough sunlight into energy to run the houses and drive their cars around town. The greater the number of miles logged each day, the more points the teams stood to earn.
The winner of this category was again the University of Colorado, who set a Solar Decathlon record, traveling a total of 318.8 miles. The decathlon organizers provided a GEM e4 electric car to each team, and from there it was off to the races. A team member notes: “Our house could actually be made for tens of thousands of dollars less, but the collection system was oversized to get more energy to run the car.”

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