ELECTRI International—The Foundation for Electrical Construction Inc awarded $50,000 to the Pennsylvania State University team in support of its 2007 Solar Decathlon efforts. Designed to increase awareness about solar photovoltaic technology, the competition will pit 20 universities from around the world against each other in October on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The decathlon includes the design and construction of a demonstration solar home that will be metered.
The Penn State Decathlon entry, named the MorningStar, will include an 8.5-kilowatt system that will easily generate enough electricity for a typical home. David Riley, an associate professor and director of the university’s Center for Sustainability, is coordinating the Penn State team.
“People are looking for energy alternatives, and solar energy is coming of age as a real option. We need to start taking it seriously,” Riley said.
In addition to the Foundation grant, both the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and ELECTRI International will work with Penn State to promote the role of electrical contractors in the safe and efficient installation of PV systems in building construction. NECA contractors, including Truland Systems, headquartered in Reston, Va., will make experienced electricians available to all decathlon teams during the event this fall.
“It will be great to have knowledgeable electricians on hand to help make sure the solar energy systems get set up and running quickly and safely,” Riley said.
“The photovoltaic market jumped 40 percent in 2006. That is faster growth than any other market. An increasing number of owners are making the installation of PV systems a priority when they invest in a new home or building. When a PV system is integrated into construction from the start and combined with other energy-efficiency measures, it can be very affordable,” said Russell Alessi, president, ELECTRI International.
After the Solar Decathlon, the MorningStar will return to Penn State to serve as a renewable energy laboratory at the university’s main campus.