SMA Sponsors Solar Decathlon Team from Victoria University, New Zealand, in US competition

The First Light team is the first ever finalist from the Southern Hemisphere to participate in the prestigious international competition and they placed an impressive third. The Solar Decathlon challenges university teams from around the world to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. SMA’s Sunny Boy 6000US is central to the operation of the First Light house.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition has taken place in Washington DC every two years since 2002, showcasing a working display of energy innovation in action. It is one of the most ambitious and inspiring solar events in the U.S. Through a series of 10 contests, university teams must demonstrate inventive clean-energy solutions by building solar pv-powered houses that feature cost-effective, energy-efficient construction and incorporate energy-saving appliances and renewable energy systems.

The house was on display at Wellington’s waterfront and opened up for tours during May of this year. The practice run for the US was a huge success attracting over 20,000 people during the 18 day opening period. 

The First Light house was reassembled at West Potomac Park, Washington, and the team received a lot of positive feedback for this same home in the US. The First Light house came second in the architecture category and first in the engineering category. 

The team’s highest score came in the energy balance contest where they were tied for first place. A team receives full points for producing at least as much energy as its house needs, achieving a net energy consumption of zero during the contest. “SMA is helping us to harness the suns energy while we are competing in the US.  Hopefully we can do them and the uni proud,” said Ben Jagersma, the student team leader for technologies.

The team were announced as third place finishers today following the revelation that they had placed third in the market appeal category. “Thank you to everyone who has had a part in this along the way. We have been overwhelmed by the support of people here in the US and the tremendous support from back home,” said Sophie Prebble, First Light communications officer.

With the competition over there is one more day for the public to come through and then deconstruction begins. The house will then be packaged up and sent back to New Zealand to its new owner.