Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane - AUI to compete in first Solar Decathlon to take place in Africa

AUI to compete in first Solar Decathlon to take place in Africa




DARNASOL team has been selected as a finalist in the Solar Decathlon Africa in September 2019 in Benguerir. Solar Decathlon is a prestigious international competition between universities to design, build, and operate a net zero energy dwelling. AUI will lead Team DARNASOL, one of 20 collegiate teams representing 40 universities from around the world. This multidisciplinary team will create an intelligent and autonomous home using the latest ecological technologies.


Under the aegis of the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water, and the Environment (MEMEE) and organized by the Moroccan Research Institute in Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN) and Mohammed VI POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY (UM6P). This competition – being held in Africa for the first time- is aligned with the Moroccan objectives: To conceptualize sustainable low-energy-consuming buildings that reach the bid of net-zero energy building and to increase reliance on renewable energies in the building sector. The competition translates the will of the government to reach high levels of sustainability in its energy sector.


Currently, DARNASOL team has successfully completed the design phase and started the construction phase. During the design phase, the team took several factors into consideration in order to develop the plans needed to complete the entire prefabricated modular house. The latter tends to comply with global environmental standards to ensure a healthy and comfortable living space for its inhabitants. Abundant, local and natural materials, such as wood and plaster, have been chosen as the main building materials to minimize the production of polluting energies called "gray energy". In addition, simple, fast and efficient assembly methods have been developed to ensure the assembly of the house in record time and without danger. Finally, the daily operation of the house saves energy, thanks to the energy management system that was developed in collaboration with "University of Maryland". Energy is produced and conserved through various types of innovative and efficient solar technologies. In addition, the house is designed with a view to a circular economy for an optimal waste management technique. To this end, the 3R strategy (reduce - reuse - recycle) is adopted.


DARNASOL has had the support of several renowned sponsors nationally and internationally. DARNASOL managed to build the structure of the house at Al Akhawayn University campus in record time of three rainy days. In parallel, the team is testing the energy management system developed by the students to control the energy produced and consumed by the house. The latter will then be dismantled and transported to Benguerir for the competition.


DARNASOL team is driven by a strong commitment and a willingness to contribute to the development of our country in particular and the African continent in general. As part of social responsibility, team members strive to serve our community by promoting sustainable practices and the use of renewable energy. Indeed, energy plays a major role in the evolution of a society and therefore in improving the living conditions of its citizens.


Since the Al Akhawayn University team attaches great importance to education and health, both of which are fundamental rights, they are willing to design a structure that is not only energy efficient, but also comfortable and functional. . The building can serve as a home for teachers and doctors; or as a school, hospital or dormitory for students or patients. To ensure sustainability, the team considers environmental protection associated with improving living conditions as their main goal. Thus, the building design of the DARNASOL team will not only be respectful of the environment but also adapted to the different climatic conditions in order to be widely exploited. To do this, they will use their knowledge of energy efficiency, construction techniques, mechatronics and renewable energies. Therefore, the zero emission house will be a controllable and extensible system designed to adapt to different environmental conditions.