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A Competition Powered by the Sun

I just helped kick-off the Department of Energy's 2009 Solar Decathlon. This is a unique student competition on the National Mall that showcases the latest energy efficiency and solar power technologies. It is a great chance to see students pushing the boundaries of what's possible today, and I hope you'll come see the competition in person or follow it online.

(Iowa State student Timothy Lentz (foreground) and Team Alberta, Canada, student Leah Battersdy (right) work on the roof of their houses.)
Nearly 1,000 students from 20 universities around the world have spent the last two years planning, designing, and building high-efficiency, solar-powered homes. I've already met several of them, and they are an incredible group. Over the next ten days, they'll test the efficiency and performance of their homes in ten contests (hence, the "Decathlon") that simulate real world use. They'll do laundry, cook, and watch TV, just like in any other family home – but all of the electricity and hot water will be generated using the sun.  
The homes are open to the public from the 9th through the 18th on the National Mall You can follow the entire competition at, and you can get updates direct from the teams through Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. I've also posted some photos of the houses on my Facebook page, which can be found at
Let the games begin!
Steven Chu is Secretary of Energy