2013 Solar Decathlon Microgrid

As many of you know, the US Dept. of Energy’s 2013 Solar Decathlon has been happening for the last couple of weeks.  Spoiler alert – the Austrians won.

The Solar Decathlon is no longer about houses of the future.  These are houses that are ready to be built anywhere.  In fact, most of the houses will be taken back home and used once the Decathlon is over.

Because this is a competition, the houses have to meet certain requirements.  The biggest challenge is that the houses have to be moved to the site in California and assembled within a very short period of time.

For the first time ever, WVU, in partnership with an Italian university, has a house in the competition.  Click on the link above to see what has been going.  You can have a look at the WV entry here.

The most interesting aspect of this year’s competition was that all 19 houses were connected in a microgrid in which the houses shared solar generation and were interconnected as a single unit with the local electric company.

Here is an interesting interview with Phil Davis of Schneider Electric, the manager of the Decathlon’s microgrid.  Mr. Davis gives you a good explanation of how microgrids work, as well as the evolution of the microgrid at the Decathlon over the years.  Schneider Electric is one of the leading US manufacturers of inverters, control modules and meters for operating microgrids.  They recently purchased Xantrax, the maker of the inverter and charge controllers on my home PV system.

One thought on “2013 Solar Decathlon Microgrid

  1. Thanks for posting this Bill, I was out there assisting the students where necessary and came away awfully tired but inspired to have experienced the competition first hand. The technical prowess of those universities is mind-boggling as to how they operate something as benign as a personal residence. The fact that it was operated as a micro-grid makes it even more interesting and shows the world how we can all benefit from its being incorporated into our massive, inefficient and centralized electric grid here at home. The future of solar energy is bright indeed, let’s hope our state of WV gets on board the train as it is ready to leave the station.

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