Solar Decathlon On The Move In 2013?

The saga of where to hold the Solar Decathlon is taking a new turn. While this year’s event will be held on the National Mall, more or less, when the event takes place again in 2013, expect to see it in new digs.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it is soliciting bids for new venues for the Solar Decathlon, a competition at which college students design, build and operate solar-powered houses. As we reported in February, the DOE and the Department of Interior caught flak after trying to move this year’s event from the National Mall. Ultimately, they decided that Solar Decathlon 2011 – which begins Sept. 23 – will take place at the Mall’s West Potomac Park, several blocks from its old spot in front of the Smithsonian between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument.

solar decathlon team new york

Image via the U.S. Department of Energy

In its announcement of the new solicitation, the DOE said it will consider venues from around the country. Bids are due by Aug. 29. (Search DE-SOL-0003159 at the government’s FedConnect database to see the full solicitation.) A synopsis accompanying the solicitation says the department wants to move the event between population centers across the United States to expand education and outreach about solar power. Any site, the synopsis said, should be able to fit 20 modular homes sized between 600 and 1,000 square feet on around 11 or 12 acres, and be available for 20 to 30 days, among other conditions.

Now a biannual event, the solar decathlon is part of the Obama administration’s effort to develop a cleantech workforce by encouraging science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. During the event, the public is invited to tour the houses designed for the competition. In its press release, the DOE said the event “has attracted thousands of people to experience first-hand the benefits of homes that incorporate clean energy technologies.”

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