The 11kW Solar Powered House

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2009 is winding down after another successful year.
  
The Solar Decathlon is a competition in which college teams compete to design, and build the most aesthetically pleasing, effective and energy-efficient solar powered house.
  
Each house in the 2009 Solar Decathlon was connected to a power grid and equipped with a bi-directional meter that measured both its consumption and production of energy. 
  
This year’s show-stealer was an entry from Germany’s Technische Universitat Darmstadt. Called the “Cube House“, their design produced a surplus of power even during three days of rain. 
  
While most home solar power systems are around 1 – 2 kW, the surface of Cube House is covered with an 11 kW solar panel system comprised of 40 monocrystalline silicon panels on the roof and about 250 thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) panels on the sides. Combined and in favourable condtions, the array can produce an incredible 200% of the energy needed by the house.
  
Other technologies included in the Cube House are custom-made vacuum insulation structural panels, phase-change material in both walls (paraffin) and ceiling (salt hydrate), automated louver-covered windows and a boiler integrated into the heat pump system allowing for the provision of domestic hot water as well as heating and cooling.
  
The cost to build the house? An estimated AUD $710,000 – $928,000 . The organisers of the Solar Decathlon point out the houses in the competition are unique designs that incorporate cutting edge technologies; but if mass-produced, their overall costs would likely decrease significantly.