Solar Decathlon Needs A New Home Starting in 2013 0

With all the kerfuffle surrounding the location of this year’s DOE Solar Decathlon, it’s a wonder that DOE’s announcement that it’s looking for a new venue to host the iconic event in 2013 didn’t make a bigger news splash. But on Oct. 18, the DOE issued a funding opportunity announcement for proposals to host the event. However, it also issued a short deadline, with initial proposals due Nov. 7.

The Solar Decathlon was moved from the National Mall’s most prominent park, the Mall, in between the Smithsonian museums to the West Potomac Park this year, a less-publicly traveled location. However, it was still a record year with more than 357,000 house visits over a 10-day period.

But the site was never selected as permanent home for the event. Now DOE is determining whether to have the event in different locations throughout the country.

“We need to see the results for this year’s site selection solicitation before making any conclusions or plans for future events,” said DOE spokesperson Chris Kielich.

Initial proposals for 2013 must be in soon, so the selection process can move forward.

“Three-page concept papers are due Nov. 7, and full proposals are due Dec. 5, 2011,” Kielich said. “We will not know the number of responses until the due dates. We hope the response will be positive, and we find a terrific new venue for the 2013 competition.”

The DOE isn’t sure whether it will seek a new permanent venue or multiple locations, according to Kielich. It may even land back at the National Mall in future years.

“We hope to come back to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the future, possibly in 2015. However, we also believe that moving the competition to other cities will increase the educational outreach to more people,” Kielich said. “A permanent site is easier to plan for, but limits the outreach somewhat.”

Wherever the next event will be held, DOE’s goal will be the same.

“Our goal for the new venue is to provide a prominent stage to showcase the innovative houses the universities design and build, and to host an exciting competition,” Kielich said. “We expect that it will take approximately three to four weeks to review all the proposals and make a selection.”

The new site will likely be selected in early 2012.

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