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U.S. and Colombia to Collaborate on First Solar Decathlon in Latin America

March 11, 2014 - 8:30am

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WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, Colombia's Minister of Energy and Mines Amylkar Acosta, Mayor of Santiago de Calí Rodrigo Guerrero, and Director of Planning of Colombia Tatyana Orozco signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate in the development of a Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean competition.  The Solar Decathlon is a competition launched by the Energy Department in 2002 to challenge university teams to design and build affordable, innovative and highly energy-efficient solar-powered homes.

“President Obama’s Climate Action Plan calls on the United States to work with other nations to lead the world to a cleaner, more prosperous future. By working together with partner nations like Colombia, we can increase global energy security and confront the challenges of a changing climate,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Poneman. “Building on successful international Solar Decathlons in Europe and China, the U.S. Energy Department looks forward to Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean – supporting a new generation of engineers, architects and energy entrepreneurs in Latin America while driving clean energy innovation and sustainable development worldwide.”

“Although we have a clean energy matrix, mainly hydro, we are working towards diversifying it by incorporating more renewable sources”, said Colombia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Amylkar Acosta. “We consider the Solar Decathlon a unique opportunity to generate incentives among our Latin American and Caribbean students to use their innovative skills to design buildings that are energy efficient and self-sufficient, contributing to national and regional sustainable growth."

Under the MOU signed today, both countries will exchange information regarding rules, scoring, judging, safety, and site and team selection for a Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean event. In collaboration with the U.S. Energy Department, Colombia's Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Department of Planning of Colombia and the City of Santiago de Cali plan to host the first Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean to take place in Santiago de Cali in late 2015. 

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that blend affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. Open to the public free of charge, the Solar Decathlon also demonstrates how energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies and design save money and energy while protecting local communities and boosting economic growth. The first U.S. Solar Decathlon was held in 2002 and the competition has since occurred every two years. The next U.S. competition will be held in Irvine, Calif., in fall 2015. For more information please visit www.solardecathlon.gov.

Since 2010, the Energy Department has helped launch four international Solar Decathlon competitions, including two in Madrid, Spain in 2010 and 2012; one in Datong, China in 2013; and one planned for Versailles, France in July 2014. The MOU signed today by the U.S. and Colombian governments marks the first step towards a Solar Decathlon competition in Latin America.

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