It is the first time an Australian team has entered the Solar Decathlon held in Datong, China since 2002. The 51-strong team built the Flame House, a retrofitted fibro cottage designed to appeal to a need for efficient low cost housing.
The Australians beat 20 other finalists to place first in the engineering, solar and architecture categories, with a team from China second and Sweden third.
Project Manager Lloyd Niccol said the competition was about producing a home that was comfortable and generated more energy than it consumed. Fibro homes in Australia represent almost 5% of the total homes in Australia or approximately 400,000 homes. The project consisted in improving the building envelope by replacing the cladding, re-insulating the home, and replacing the single glazed windows with double glazed units. These changes made the home more efficient by driving down the need for heating and cooling.
The roof was retrofitted with two types of solar panels, one consisting in a “photovoltaic thermal system” with SoloPower CIGS thin film panels, where heat removed from the solar panels is used to heat and cool the home.
SoloPower plans to support the University and BlueScope to develop go to market strategies for their novel photovoltaic thermal system.