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Chasing the sun: U of M enters energy decathlon

Solar home
Courtesy of the University of Minnesota
A view of the solar powered house’s east porch

In Norse mythology, the sun races so fast across the sky because a wolf is chasing Sól, the sun goddess, and trying to eat her. That wolf must be famished right now; the chase ends earlier every day.

The fleeting winter sun in the North Star State was part of the challenge the University of Minnesota tackled when it put together its first-ever entry in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition. 

The entry, a completely solar powered house, opened for public viewing this week on the St. Paul campus on the north side of Buford Place just east of Gortner Ave. You still can see it Thursday and Friday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Because the winter sun in the Twin Cities rises only 54 degrees above the horizon, designers had to pull the ridge of the roof north, thereby expanding the surface area on the southern side for maximum efficiency of photovoltaic and solar thermal panels.

The 800-square-foot home was built to be broken down into pieces so it can be reconstructed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where 20 teams of college and university students will compete from Oct. 9-18.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by dan buechler on 09/17/2009 - 02:48 pm.

    Nice photo, good story. Enjoyed the link also alth a bit uncertain on why some matter is considered subjective. Could use a map. Keep it up!

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