By Sacha Fraiture
Teams from four American universities—the Colorado School of Mines, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Seattle University and the University of Maryland—joined 44 Moroccan, European and Sub-Saharan African universities at the first-ever Solar Decathlon Africa, Sept. 13-27. In November 2016, the Department of Energy and the Institute Research Solar Energy et Energies Nouvelles (IRESEN), a research institute created by the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the development of Solar Decathlon Africa. Solar Decathlon Africa took place at IRESEN’s Green Energy Park and its under-construction Green and Smart Building Park in Ben Guerir. The Solar Decathlon is a Department of Energy-trademarked collegiate competition. Initiated in 2002, the competition showcases solar technologies and sustainable housing. Previous competitions have been held in the United States, China, France, Colombia and the United Arab Emirates.
The teams of university students assembled grid-connected and net-zero-energy houses in a solar village. The structures were judged on categories including energy efficiency, aesthetics and marketability. The two-week competition featured a number of side events, including a solar car race and a green energy entrepreneurship pitch competition.
Embassy Rabat’s Chargé d’affaires David J. Greene, DOE Solar Decathlon Director Holly Carr, Moroccan Minister of Energy Aziz Rabbah and other senior Moroccan government officials attended both the opening and closing ceremonies. The Solar Decathlon represented the continuation of bilateral efforts to promote renewable energy in Morocco.
“The U.S. and Morocco are working on several programs to promote clean energy in Morocco,” said Greene. “Together, we are increasing capacity in the management of Morocco’s energy grid, improving battery storage technology and making irrigation more energy efficient.”
Sacha Fraiture is an assistant information officer at Embassy Rabat.