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Energy Department Secretary Ernest Moniz Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Morocco for Solar Decathlon Africa Competition in 2019

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Today, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz and Minister Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water, and Environment (MEMEE) and Director Badr Ikken of the Research Institute in Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate in the development of a Solar Decathlon Africa competition in 2019.

The officials signed the agreement during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP22), where international leaders have been meeting the last week to discuss climate change action. This is the first successor conference to the successful Paris Agreement. Under the MOU signed today, DOE will assist in the development of the first Solar Decathlon in Africa.

DOE launched the competition in 2002, which challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses. Teams compete in 10 contests, similar to the Olympics’ Decathlon, ranging from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance and electric vehicle charging. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency. Students involved in the teams lead free tours of their houses, allowing regional future leaders to educate and inspire the public on clean energy and sustainable design.

Under the MOU signed today, both countries will exchange information regarding rules, scoring, judging, safety, and site and team selection for the 2019 Solar Decathlon event in Africa. The government of Morocco will establish a framework for the competition in collaboration with DOE. Both nations will contribute members to an oversight committee, which will approve plans and activities, and evaluate success of the program. Since 2010, DOE began permitting the use of the “Solar Decathlon” brand name to international partners in France, Spain, China, Colombia, and the United Arab Emirates.

For Morocco, the new competition will align with its goal of reaching 42 percent of its total installed electricity generation capacity with renewable energy resources by 2020 and 52 percent by 2030. Currently, officials report that renewable energy accounts for 34 percent of domestic power generation. Morocco has been in contact with several universities in Africa that have already expressed interest in participating in this event. A call for applications will be held in 2017. Each Solar Decathlon competition involves hundreds of university students and tens of thousands of visitors that tour the houses. Its format is an award-winning vehicle for workforce development, clean energy outreach, and technology demonstration.

Seven Solar Decathlon events have been held in the United States since 2002. The next Solar Decathlon will be held Oct. 5, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. For detailed information and high-resolution photos, visit the COP22 website, as well as the Solar Decathlon website.

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