An Update from Engineering advisor Dr. Mark Walter:
Day 17 started off great with a blue, cloudless sky. This is something we had not seen since the start of the competition. Unfortunately our worst fears were realized and clouds started rolling in by mid-day. By 3:00 pm we had to make some tough decisions. We were at -6 kWh and still needed to run the TV and BlueRay player, do a load of laundry, boil water, and run the dishwasher. Every 1 kWh negative would be worth two points, so we looked at the points and energy associated with each activity. We decided to skip the clothes drying and cooking. This would be dropping 10 points. We were still producing some power, so by 7 pm, even after running the washing machine, dishwasher, tv/BlueRay, we were at -5.7 kWh. We were about 1/2 a day of good sun short of being net-zero (and not dropping any activities). This unfortunate circumstance caused a 21 point swing relative to teams that had enough power to be net-zero and complete their contests. Maryland and Purdue maintained their leads and Sci-Arc/Caltech jumped into 3rd place. New Zealand also rose and is in fourth place, 5.1 points ahead of us. There were 7 teams that achieved net-zero, obviously having over-engineered their solar arrays :). In terms of being negative, we were the 2nd least negative. It is worth noting that since our array came on-line (2 sunny days prior to the start of energy balance monitoring), we are about +30 kWh! That is frustrating.
One contest remains ... Market Appeal. This is a subjective contest and it is anyone's guess as to how we will do relative to the Sci-Arc/Caltech, New Zealand, and even the 6th place Middlebury. As has been the case with every aspect of this competition, we are proud of the effort we have put into the Market Appeal contest (working with Fisher College of Business's Net Impact student group and leveraging our knowledge of the Weiland Park's needs and challenges). The Market Appeal results will be announced around 2:45, and this result will determine the final standings. The scoring page http://www.solardecathlon.gov/scores.html (be sure to click on "Scores by Contests") is now almost complete and worth looking at. Note, in particular, that enCORE won the Comfort Zone competition outright and was T1 in Hot Water.
Stay tuned for the final results sometime after 3:30 pm today.