“Lumenhaus” Solar Decathlon Win & Festival Place Sees the Light
Festival A team of US students calling their project “Lumenhaus”, has won the Solar Decathlon Europe competition in Madrid to design and build the best house run only by solar energy, beating 16 other competitors from seven countries. Meanwhile, on Michael Eavis’s farm, which played host to 175,000 Glastonbury revellers for Europe’s biggest music festival last weekend, work will start on a major solar-power project financed by an ethical bank’s savers.
AFP reports (28 June 2010):
A team of US students has won a competition in Madrid to design and build the best house run only by solar energy, the organisers said.
The “Lumenhaus” of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University beat 16 other competitors from seven countries to win the Solar Decathlon Europe award.
The contestants had 10 days to construct “real, sustainable, self-sufficient and comfortable houses exclusively sustained by solar energy”, it said in a statement on Sunday.
The jury, made up of experts in architecture and solar systems, decided the Lumenhaus was “the most efficient” of the 17 entries.
It “presents an open distribution that connects the inhabitants of the house with the external environment”.
About 190,000 people have so far visited the “solar village” on the banks of Madrid’s Manzanares river where the houses are on display, the statement said.
Solar Decathlon Europe was taking place in Europe for the first time.
It is organised by the US Department of Energy and was staged in the US in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009.
In Madrid, there were five teams from Spain, two from Germany, two from France, two from the US, two from China, one British and one Finnish.
Rupert Jones The Guardian (26 June 2010):
Last weekend Michael Eavis’s farm is playing host to Europe’s biggest music festival, but when the 175,000 Glastonbury revellers have gone home and the stages have been dismantled, work will start on a major solar-power project financed by an ethical bank’s savers.
Bristol-based Triodos Bank has granted a UK£500,000 loan to Eavis’s Worthy Farm, home to the festival, to help pay for the installation of what will be Britain’s biggest solar roof. The bank says it is a good example of the type of green project that savers who put their cash in its climate change bonds (which pay interest of up to 3.25%) are supporting.
The solar-panel system will be on the roof of the “Mootel” – the barns that are home to the farm’s herd while the festival is on. On a clear,sunny day, it is expected that the 1,100 panels will generate around 200kW (kilowatts) of power.
That is enough electricity to power about 40 houses, though it is estimated the farm will consume about 80% of what is produced, says a Triodos Bank spokesman. The project is costing £550,000, with Eavis (below) providing £50,000 himself, and the rest being financed by the Triodos loan. Work is due to start in early August.
Eavis has said he wants the farm, and the festival, “to be as green as they can be”, and the solar panels will make a huge contribution towards that aim. This is the first such installation that the bank has financed in the UK, but one of 85 internationally.
Triodos is different from most banks and building societies in that it guarantees that people’s savings cash will only be used to finance businesses and charities that benefit people and the environment. In total, it has 36,500 customers in the UK.
Triodos’s climate change bonds are savings bonds where your money is tied up for two, three or five years. They pay gross interest of 2%, 2.75% and 3.25% respectively. These are decent rates, though ICICI Bank UK is offering 4.15% on a three-year fixed-rate bond and 5% on a five-year bond. However, some savers may take the view they would prefer to deal with an ethical bank.
The spokesman says a customer who puts just £2,679 into one of its climate change bonds is effectively financing the creation of enough renewable energy for one average UK home for the next 20 years.
“And because we publish details of all the organisations we lend to, savers can see what their money’s supporting at triodos.co.uk/knowwhereyourmoneygoes/,” he adds.
The minimum investment is £500 and the maximum £50,000, and it can be managed online or by post. Be aware that no early closure or withdrawals are allowed, so this is not an account for money you are likely to want to access.