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Australia shines at solar decathlon

14th Aug 2013

Solar engineers recently descended upon the Chinese city of Datong, outside Beijing, to show off the developments and prototypes they had come up with, and attempt to win first place in the international Solar Decathlon.

Out of the 20 countries that participated in the event, Australia took the top prize, with a group of students from the University of Wollongong and the Illawarra Institute showing off an extremely advanced house design.

The team designed what they called the Illawarra Flame fibro house, which was completely self sustainable. The house garnered the engineers a score of 957.6 out of 1,000 - high enough to put it above highly respected institutes from China, Sweden and other technologically progressive countries around the world.

The Australian spoke to the group about how they went about developing the house, and the team's leader, Lloyd Niccol, stated that he and his colleagues simply wanted to "make a difference".

"We are not sitting around waiting for politicians to do something - we are making a change ourselves," he told the paper.

Dianne Murray, director of TAFE Illawarra, added that the event was a great place for experts to show off their latest designs, which in turn will hopefully promote solar electricity on a global scale.

"This has been a huge opportunity to show the world how far advanced the Illawarra is when it comes to clever, sustainable construction and design and to establish our region as a global leader in this field," she stated.

A fresh take on an old idea

The novel idea that won first place was to use a preestablished kit to build the 100 per cent sustainable house. To do this, the group took an old fibro shack common to Australia and retrofitted it so it could be taken apart and put back together easily.

The team said they kept the rapidly rising average age of Australians in mind when designing the house, too.

While the group won overall, it also took home other accolades. The solar power house won first place in the engineering, architecture and solar application categories, and took second place for communications and market appeal.

"I cannot describe how much it means for the team to be awarded first place in the Solar Decathlon China 2013," Paul Cooper, a Wollongong University professor, told The Australian.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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