Dubai’s first Solar Decathlon draws big response

Universities from 19 international and Middle Eastern countries have registered for the inaugural Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 (SDME 2018), which will be held in Dubai, UAE.

Solar Decathlon is an international competition that challenges teams to design and build smart houses that only use solar power.

“Dubai will host the Solar Decathlon in 2018 and also in 2020, to coincide with the Dubai Expo 2020,” said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, vice chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa).

“We will carefully select the shortlisted teams, to meet the ambitious goals of the competitions, and support the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to transform Dubai into a global hub for clean energy and green economy, diversifying Dubai’s energy, and increasing the contribution of renewable energy in Dubai’s energy mix to reach 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050,” said Al Tayer.

“Dewa set a maximum of twenty proposals for the first competition, but participation exceeded expectations to reach twice that number. This comes as a result of the increasing number of the universities willing to participate in the competition, which makes it more competitive and enthusiastic. Selecting the top twenty from so many excellent teams means that the challenge to design and build a winning house will be more competitive and exciting,” added Al Tayer.

“Never has an international Solar Decathlon received so many proposals from so many interested university teams,” said Richard King, director of the Solar Decathlon at the US Department of Energy (DoE).

“The Solar Decathlon Middle East will establish new levels of competition and more involvement than we could have hoped for,” said Waleed Salman, executive vice president of Strategy & Business Development at Dewa.

Dewa has selected a specialised and experienced judging panel to review and evaluate the presented proposals. This process will take several weeks. The selected teams will be announced during the World Green Economy Summit in Dubai on October 6.

Once selected to enter the competition, teams will have two years to design and build sustainable houses. After completion, teams will engage in 10 different contests, ranging from architecture and engineering to sustainability and innovation. These contests aim to provide the participating teams with valuable practical experience in clean energy design.

The winners of the first SDME in 2018 will be awarded cash prizes totalling Dh10 million ($2.5 million).

In October 2018, the solar-powered houses will be unveiled at the SDME’s site, as the participating students will accompany the public to present the details of their winning designs. The public will also be able to watch the decathletes in action as they compete.

Solar Decathlon Middle East was created through an agreement between the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Dewa, and the United States Department of Energy. Participating in the competition is confined to university students from all over the world. Dubai will host the first two Solar Decathlons in the Middle East.

Universities will meet to design, build, and operate energy self-sufficient houses. Teams will compete to adapt their designs to combat the seasonal heat, dust and high humidity experienced by the region. The participating students will have to design, build, and operate sustainable mock-ups of solar-powered houses, which are cost-effective and energy-efficient, while preserving the environment and taking into account the region’s climate.


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