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Solar Decathlon Opening

October 6, 2005 - 12:25pm


Remarks Prepared for Energy Secretary Bodman

Let me begin by welcoming all of you to this Solar Decathlon.  I want to extend a particularly warm welcome to our student competitors.

These student teams have come from all over the United States, as well as Canada, the Caribbean and Spain, and have spent the last two years working to design, build, and operate the most livable, energy-efficient, completely solar-powered house.  Each of these houses must provide all the home energy needs of a typical family, using only the power of the sun.  The winner of the competition will be the team that best blends livability and modern conveniences, with maximum energy production and optimal efficiency.

On behalf of the entire U.S. Department of Energy, let me say to the students how proud and pleased we are that you are taking part in this competition.   No matter who the winner turns out to be, each of you has already accomplished something truly remarkable.  Every one of these houses is a marvel of engineering and design, and a model of creativity and innovation.  I know this because I came down here on Tuesday to tour the village and speak with some of the students.  I must say, I was very impressed.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank our co-sponsors.  In addition to our Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and our National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this competition has also received invaluable support from the American Institute of Architects, the National Association of Home Builders, BP, the DIY Network and Sprint-Nextel.  Thank you.

You will be hearing from our private sectors partners in just a moment.  But before I turn the podium over to them, let me just say a word about why the Department of Energy sponsors this competition, and what we hope to achieve.

One reason, of course, is to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and engineering.  In particular, we hope that the Solar Decathlon encourages college students to think in new ways about the way we use our energy, and to explore the benefits of using renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

But this isn't just a teaching exercise.  As you can see, this competition really is improving and enlarging the ways we develop and apply solar energy technology.  That is the second reason we sponsor this competition.

By the year 2025, world energy consumption is expected to increase by more than 50 percent.  So one of the great challenges we will face over the next twenty years is supplying enough clean, affordable energy to fuel the world's growing economies.  Expanding the use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies will be key to meeting that challenge.

In fact, it is already an important part of the way we use energy today.  Right now, off-the-shelf solar energy products are available to provide power for homes, while energy efficiency technologies available in most hardware stores can significantly reduce the energy that homes use.

These technologies are one aspect of the new "Easy Ways to Save Energy" campaign our Department launched this week.  President Bush has called on all Americans to conserve, and be more energy efficient in light of expected high energy prices this winter-a result of increasing energy demand and infrastructure damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  So we are engaged in a comprehensive national campaign to highlight how American families, businesses and the federal government can save energy.

We hope that people who tour this Solar Village and participate in the workshops will take the opportunity to learn what they can do to use solar power or to reduce energy use in their own homes.

Let me close with a final note of good news.  Beginning this year, the Solar Decathlon will now be a biannual event.  We invite educational institutions from across the country, and around the world, to enter the 2007 competition.  And to make it easier for teams to take on these ambitious projects to develop efficient, affordable and reliable solar powered homes, I am pleased to announce that our Department will be awarding $100,000 grants-rather than the current $5,000-to each of the successful proposals.

Now, let me once again congratulate all of this year's student teams.  Thank you for participating, and good luck in the competition.

Location: National Mall