Government helps students' light shine

Tuesday 4 October 2011, 12:49PM
By Wayne Mapp

Science and Innovation Minister Dr Wayne Mapp has praised Victoria University of Wellington students whose energy efficient ‘First Light’ bach finished third at the Solar Decathlon in Washington DC yesterday (October 2, 2011).

“The First Light team have done a great job of showcasing New Zealand’s innovation, smart thinking and commitment to keeping our environment healthy,” said Dr Mapp.

The students are among 19 university teams chosen to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. They were the first ever finalists from the southern hemisphere.

The two-yearly competition challenges teams to design and build solar-powered houses. It is held in the National Mall in the heart of Washington DC and was visited by more than 300,000 people in 2009.

Teams compete in the Solar Decathlon take part in ten contests. The Victoria University team won the contest for best engineering, came first equal in hot water and energy balance, and finished second for architecture. Their house managed to produce more energy than it consumed during the competition, despite frequent cloudy weather.

Among the Meridian First Light house’s features are recycled sheep’s wool insulation from Eco Insulation and triple-glazed glass from Metro GlassTech.

“Not only does the project shine a light on the extraordinary talent and hard work of the Victoria University students, it also highlights some outstanding New Zealand companies, whose products are featured in the house,” said Dr Mapp.

“Businesses like Fisher & Paykel show the value of investing in science and innovation.”

The Government, through the Ministry of Science and Innovation, invested $120,000 in the First Light project.