U.S. Consul General Paul Malik participated in the Solar Decathlon Middle East Workshop

U.S. Consul General Paul Malik participated in the Solar Decathlon Middle East Workshop on April 30. Below is the full text of his remarks:

“Good morning. Thank you for the kind invitation to address the Solar Decathlon Middle East workshop this morning.

I would like to congratulate HE Saeed Al Tayer, Managing Director and CEO of DEWA, and his entire team for the world class organization and preparation for the first Solar Decathlon Middle East in Dubai at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in November 2018.

We are particularly proud of our U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon initiative, which has been a platform for international innovation and technology for budding entrepreneurs and scientists since it began in 2002. Today, we have with us a retired Department of Energy official, Mr. Richard King, who is serving as a special advisor to Solar Decathlon Middle East. I’m also very pleased to see so many teams of numerous nationalities eager to start their projects.

The United States highly values its cooperation with the UAE and we share a deep interest in a Middle East that is peaceful and prosperous. The U.S.-UAE bilateral relationship is multifaceted and based on strong economic and cultural ties as well as security cooperation. Trade and investment between the United States and the UAE is growing, and the UAE is the single largest export market for American goods in the broader Middle East.

One of the many ways that our two countries cooperate is through a Strategic Energy Dialogue that serves as a consistent and supportive mechanism for energy engagement in areas including clean energy cooperation (such as through the Solar Decathlon), industrial energy efficiency, and innovative water desalination technologies, as well as carbon capture utilization and storage, and nuclear power and nuclear security cooperation.

We are excited to see how Solar Decathlon Middle East evolves to help Dubai attain its 2030 goals related to fostering university research and development in clean energy and sustainable housing design, education, and building human capacity.

Since the first Solar Decathlon was held in Washington, D.C., in 2002, the competition has expanded to Europe, China, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and now to the Middle East with the 2018 Dubai competition.

As our eager contestants know, the Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate energy-efficient, solar-powered houses in ten contests. We have found these events to be tremendously valuable in terms of building capacity, publicizing the benefits of clean energy, and demonstrating and testing technology.

The Solar Decathlon is proof that bright minds can change our world for the better. It provides hands-on experience and unique training that prepares the competitors – university students – to enter the clean energy workforce. This international competition has been a driving force in creating renewable energy and energy efficiency awareness since its inception in 2002. Technologies and solutions used in Solar Decathlon homes have advanced the residential building industry both in the United States and abroad. Former Solar Decathletes who have participated in these events have made significant contributions to the clean energy economy worldwide.

We estimate that, since its inception, around 35,000 college students have participated in this competition, which includes 217 collegiate teams competing worldwide. Today, we have assembled 22 teams from throughout the Middle East and further afield, which is extremely impressive.

We know that to fully realize the promise of the clean energy future we aspire to, we’ll have to invest in creating the global clean energy workforce of the future, and the Solar Decathlon has proved to be truly invaluable to do that.

We also know that, in addition to building a workforce for the clean energy industry, we also have to build out the market for that industry, and that involves exposing consumers to the benefits of clean energy and energy efficient technologies. On that score, the Solar Decathlon is one of the most effective programs in the DOE arsenal.

Solar Decathlon isn’t “just a competition.” It’s also a large public event that enables the public to tour the houses. It’s an intensive consumer course in sustainability, offering a public demonstration of energy-efficient design, clean energy technologies, smart home solutions, water conservation measures, electric vehicles, and sustainable materials.

It offers the opportunity to educate, inspire and engage the public in a significant and compelling way, both via onsite tours and through media coverage. Just as an example, we expect Solar Decathlon 2017, which will take place in Denver, Colorado in October 2017, to have:

Onsite Public Engagement, comprising:

    • 90,000+ visitors over 9 days to experience the competition, events, and expo
    • 350,000+ house tours conducted by student decathletes
    • 3,000+ middle school students and teachers
    • 1,000+ volunteers donating more than 7,500 hours

Worldwide Media Coverage, exceeding:

    • 2 billion media impressions with more than 2,500 stories and 200 onsite media for a single event

Digital Reach, approximating:

    • 1 million page views and 500,000 visitors (The full digital reach of the Solar Decathlon is accomplished through websites, blogs, and social media accounts dedicated to the Solar Decathlon, the U.S. Department of Energy and its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.)

From these experiences, consumers learn about the benefits and potential of clean energy and energy efficient technologies; they learn from the solutions presented how to incorporate energy saving measures into their own lives. From small changes, such as switching light bulbs or more efficient appliance purchases, to whole house renovations and installation of renewable energy systems, cost savings add up and contribute to global efforts to improve the energy efficiency of our economies, and to transition to more sustainable energy systems.

Finally, we’ve found that these events actually help accelerate the pace of commercialization for new technologies, by creating new partnership opportunities, and creating space for demonstration, and testing of new technologies.

Universities and the private sector often partner with startup companies and creative thinkers to implement and accelerate the research, development, and commercialization of emerging building technologies. You see some of that in the sponsorships that the 2018 teams already have garnered. Market-leading technologies are incorporated into every Solar Decathlon competition house, and these technologies are boosted along their path to market.

Solar Decathlon competition houses are typically 10 years ahead of code adoption and 5 years ahead of the market uptake. The technologies pioneered in the Solar Decathlon often require additional testing and alternate approvals, which prepare them for larger-scale deployment and commercialization. Some examples have included custom appliances, unitized small-scale HVAC systems, and extended use of closed cell insulation.

For all of these reasons, these Solar Decathlon competitions have proved to be a tremendous success. Let me congratulate again our partners at DEWA for stepping forward to host the first of these in the Middle East.

I congratulate the 22 teams from 16 countries who will participate in the First Solar Decathlon Middle East, including those from the Middle East – UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Palestine – as well as Australia, Netherlands, Italy, Romania, Malaysia, Taiwan, Pakistan, Serbia, France, and Spain.

And, I am excited to hear the presentations from the teams about their solar houses. Good luck to all!”