A squad from National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) has become the first Taiwanese team to be selected for the Solar Decathlon Europe (SDE) competition with its Solar Decathlon-Orchid House — an ecological prototype house that incorporates progressive greenhouse technology in the cultivation of Taiwanese orchids.
The Solar Decathlon is an international competition, first held by the US Department of Energy in 2002, which challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.
After a memorandum of understanding was signed between the US and Spain, the SDE was established in 2007.
Judges will be looking for the winning team to best blend affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency over the course of the competition’s 10 contests.
At a press conference held by the NCTU in Taipei yesterday, the school said its UNICODE Lab, consisting of professors and students in architecture, engineering, science, design, management and several other disciplines, was selected in December last year out of a pool of many teams from around the world to compete at the SDE this summer.
The school said the team plans to set off to Versailles, France, where the competition is held this year, in late June to compete among 20 teams from 17 countries.
The team’s task is to rebuild the solar house within 10 days.
Team member Wu Ya-ting (吳雅婷), a student at NCTU’s Graduate Institute of Architecture, said because the living space in densely populated metropolitan areas is often limited, rooftop additions are a popular scene in Taiwan, and the team hopes to redefine Taiwan’s city skyline with its new design.
Wu said the orchid is an important Taiwanese export crop, for which a high-tech cultivation method is used, which made it appropriate to be feature as the theme for the team’s Solar Decathlon-Orchid House.
Wu added that the house uses rooftop solar panels, but its best feature is its “Green Core” — composed of orchid and other plants inside the house — which acts as the “heart” of the house that can regulate the indoor temperature and enhance air quality, the team said.
Team member Tseng Sheng-kai (曾聖凱) said the house also has an automatic watering system that knows when plants need more water and uses collected rainwater, which can help reduce drainage problems in Taiwan’s rainy seasons.