Team Germany's "SOLAR EVERYWHERE" Strategy Wins 2009 Solar Decathalon
What was their winning strategy? SOLAR EVERYWHERE! They put solar panels on every exterior surface possible, including the siding, and put insulating material under the panels to ensure high insulation values. The home was rated to passive house insulation standards, and when you combine passive house and lots of PV, it packs an impressive punch.
Even though the home was only 800 square feet, all those solar cells added up to an impressive 11,000 watts of peak generating capacity. And at its peak the home produced 2x more than what it used. The cube structure helped ensure the win, since it allowed them to add another floor onto the home and increased its overall surface area.
But all this power didn't come cheap. The estimated cost for the 900 square foot home was in the range of $650,000 - $850,000. Expensive by any measure (unless you live in Manhattan or SF), but the main point of the Solar Decathalon is to push the envelope of what is possible, and many of these technologies are quickly coming down in price.
Who knows, maybe in a few years all of our siding and roofing will be generating electricity...