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Chinese university uses US PV for global solar competition

First Solar donates thin film modules to IMUT students for Solar Decathlon as China hosts competition for first time

PV from First Solar will be used in the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition in China to design houses which net zero energy consumption

Students from China’s Inner Mongolia University of Technology (IMUT) will use advanced thin-film solar photovoltaic modules from a leading US PV firm to develop projects for a global solar competition. Arizona firm First Solar has donated 150 of its PV modules with a peak generating capacity of 13KW to IMUT’s “Team Green Sun” for the 2013 Solar Decathlon, which is being hosted for the first time in China.

The company will provide technical support for the project team, as well as collaborating with IMUT on solar education. This is the third time First Solar has supported the Solar Decathlon competitions.

Bruce Yung, First Solar’s managing director and vice president of business development for China, said: “We are proud to support IMUT’s Team Green Sun in bringing cost-effective and energy-efficient technology to the region. China represents a very important market for First Solar.

“The fact that this year’s Solar Decathlon is being held here is reflective of the government’s commitment to developing the solar industry to meet interlinking economic, energy and environmental goals. First Solar is very pleased to be able to contribute to China’s solar development in this way.”

Promoting solar innovation

Originally developed by the US Department of Energy in 2002, the Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition that challenges students to use a holistic approach to design and engineer houses with net-zero energy consumption. The competition helps demonstrate that solar powered homes are fully functional and sustainable, while promoting innovation and adoption of solar energy technologies.

This year marks the first time China has hosted the Solar Decathlon competition. It features 22 teams from around the world, with 13 teams coming from China. The 2013 Solar Decathlon China is the result of an agreement between China’s National Energy Administration and the US Department of Energy to encourage energy collaboration between the two countries.

Jim Brown, First Solar’s executive vice president of global business development, said: “First Solar supports China’s sustainable development and the Chinese government’s commitment to the solar energy industry at the national and provincial levels. We hope that by participating in the Solar Decathlon competitions, we can further raise awareness about the importance of solar technologies in achieving a sustainable energy future.”

Chinese team house design

Team Green Sun’s house design for the 2013 Solar Decathlon China is based on the yurt, a tent-like habitat indigenous to Inner Mongolia and other parts of Central Asia. The team’s project seeks to address energy issues common in the region, including power grid inaccessibility, water shortages and high heating demands.

First Solar’s advanced thin-film solar modules will equip the house with an efficient source of energy that successfully addresses the energy needs of off-grid areas with challenging operating conditions. The team consists of 21 graduate and undergraduate students from various majors, including energy and power engineering, architecture, civil engineering and management.

The news from First Solar and IMUT follows other Western and Chinese collaborations involving universities focused on renewable energy development. This includes the University of Leeds and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which teamed up in July 2012 to create a joint research institute in China for developing energy storage systems.