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Photo of the National Mall. The Washington Monument can be seen at the end of a long grassy area ringed by walkways and trees. A few work trucks and vans, as well as a snorkel lift are parked on the walkway to the right.

The National Mall on Sept. 30, just before the Solar Decathlon 2009 teams arrive with their houses.

Photo of five men wearing hardhats and standing around and inside a fenced area. The men inside work on an electrical box. The men outside watch. In the background is a walkway and trees.

Pepco workers install the foundation of the Solar Decathlon 2009 microgrid on the National Mall.

Solar Decathlon 2009

Daily Journal - September 30, 2009

Welcome to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2009

Welcome to Solar Decathlon 2009! In these daily journals, my goal is to give you a ground-level view of all the action during this year's competition. I will post updates each day, with breaking news as it happens, so make sure to check this page daily to catch all the drama and excitement as it unfolds over the next 21 days.

Today is the 30th of September, the first day of village assembly. The team of Schneider Electric, Pepco, and John E. Kelly and Sons Electrical Construction is busy connecting the electric microgrid on the National Mall. This marks the first time in Solar Decathlon history that the solar-powered houses will be grid-connected using net meters. In the past, the houses were standalone, with each having its own battery storage bank to provide electricity in the evenings and on cloudy days. I'll further describe this new element of the competition as the Solar Decathlon progresses.

This, the fourth Solar Decathlon, begins now. The teams will assemble their homes into a "solar village" on the National Mall starting tonight and continuing through the first week of October. Following the Opening Ceremony on Oct. 8, the homes will be open for public tours Oct. 9-13 and 15-18.

Team Germany, the reigning Solar Decathlon champion, returns to defend its title. Two teams, the University of Puerto Rico and Team Missouri, are seasoned competitors, having participated in all four Solar Decathlons. Eleven teams are competing in their first Solar Decathlon. Will one of them be the Cinderella—lightly regarded but full of mettle and competition smarts? Only time will tell.

We look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to the Solar Decathlon, so join us on the National Mall if you possibly can. Plan on rubbing elbows with some of the most passionate and dedicated students in the world—our future architects, engineers, and energy leaders. There is much to learn, too. You can tour the houses, attend a consumer workshop, or visit one of our new displays.

If you can't visit the Solar Decathlon in person, no worries; you can catch much of the action through this Web site. You'll find videos, time-lapse photography, virtual tours, a product directory, scoring results, and more. We hope to see you back here daily.

To the Solar Decathlon teams: Good luck and good fortune. From all of us at the U.S. Department of Energy, we hope you have a strong, exciting competition.

I can't wait to see what happens!

Richard King
Solar Decathlon Director