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American-Made Challenges

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SOLVE IT Prize

Enabling innovative solutions for local energy-related challenges.

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$5,000,000

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Summary

Overview

The Solutions for Lasting, Viable Energy Infrastructure Technologies (SOLVE IT) Prize aims to empower communities to identify and implement innovative clean energy solutions in a way that works for their unique needs and challenges. 

Communities across the country are faced with long-standing energy challenges, including pollution from heavy industry and other sources, high energy costs, aging grid infrastructure, and more. Clean energy technologies can help address many of these challenges while providing other economic, health, and workforce benefits. 

Many communities, however, lack the resources and capacity to consider the best possible approach to a clean energy transition. The SOLVE IT Prize was designed to support communities as they identify and implement innovative clean energy solutions in a way that works best to address their unique needs and challenges. In doing so, the SOLVE IT Prize looks to promote the commercialization of promising energy technologies that will lead to an equitable and just energy transition.

The prize will award competitors with a demonstrated history of productive work with communities. Competitors will work collaboratively with stakeholders interested in community-scale (neighborhood-, town-, or city-scale) planning around clean energy to engage their communities, build a network of support for clean energy or decarbonization projects, and develop plans for carrying out these projects.

 

Prize Structure

Over three phases, competitors will work with communities to develop a credible path forward on clean energy projects that help address local challenges. 

Embark Phase: Competitors will identify a community, a challenge facing that community that can be addressed by a clean technology solution, and a clear plan for engaging with the community. Competitors will demonstrate that they have what it takes to carry out their project. 

Engage Phase: Teams will engage with their community stakeholders to develop the community’s vision for their future clean energy or decarbonization project.   

Establish Phase: Teams will create plans for carrying out at least one specific, technically novel clean energy or decarbonization project. Winners will demonstrate proof that they have obtained the confirmed commitments needed to carry out their projects.

For more information, review the official rules document.

 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) have collaborated to launch the SOLVE IT Prize. The prize is part of the American-Made program and is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. SOLVE IT is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) through the Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF).


Guidelines

The competition is open to individuals, nonprofits, local government entities, economic development organizations, educational institutions, and other organizations with a history of successful participatory community-based initiatives. Of particular focus are disadvantaged and energy-burdened communities at the neighborhood, town, and city scale.

Please review the official rules document for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

If you want to subscribe to updates on the prize click the "Follow" button at the top of the page. If you have any questions, you may use the contact feature on the HeroX platform, or message us directly.

Timeline
Updates10

Challenge Updates

SOLVE IT Phase 1: Embark Winners Announced

May 21, 2024, 12:59 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Congratulations to the 28 winners from Phase 1: Embark of the SOLVE IT Prize! Each winner received $80,000 for describing their experience in community engagement and identifying a community seeking clean energy solutions and high-level plan to engage that community.

 

These winners now advance to Phase 2: Engage to work closely with community stakeholders to develop the community’s vision for a clean energy or decarbonization project.

 

Congratulations to the winning teams!

  • Aloha First (Waimanalo, HI) – Implementing sustainable solutions for energy justice on behalf of Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) who have long been underserved.
  • Asociación de Residentes de La Margarita (Salinas, Puerto Rico) – Exploring an energy efficiency and resilience project using air conditioner water heater systems for La Margarita, Puerto Rico.
  • Bryant Decarbonization  (Ann Arbor, MI) – Creating a regional geothermal district by centering the goals, aspirations, and strengths of a Justice40 neighborhood.
  • City of Baltimore (Baltimore, MD) ­– Identifying innovative ways to expand EV charging in Baltimore City, creating and actionable strategy by engaging with community members. 
  • City of New Bedford, MA Resilience Hubs (New Bedford, MA) ­– Coordinating resource centers that build a community's capacity to thrive before, during, and following extreme events.
  • Clean Energy NH Energy Circuit Rider (Hampton, NH) – Implementing energy solutions for local libraries as hands-on learning opportunities for citizens to achieve their own energy saving solutions.
  • Clearfork Community Solar and Energy Efficiency (Clairfield, TN) – Convening community stakeholders to pair community solar with household energy efficiency programs to tackle energy poverty in Appalachia.
  • Comunidades del Sol (Carrizo Springs, TX) – Aiming to reduce the energy burdens of residents in Comunidades del Sol, TX.
  • Cooperative Energy Futures (Minneapolis, MN) – Developing district level ground-source heating systems centered around anchor sites, reaching surrounding homes and businesses.
  • Detroit MorningSide EcoDistrict (Detroit, MI) Making efficient upgrades to the community hub to demonstrate technologies, anchor community education, and quickly scale adoption.
  • DU BleuGreen Krewe (Orleans Parish, LA) ­– Increasing awareness and investment around clean energy solutions in local communities surrounding Dillard University.
  • Duquesne Light Company (Sharpsburg, PA) – Helping Sharpsburg, PA achieve their goal of an independent, clean energy future through community-led solutions.
  • East Oakland Neighborhood Initiative Collaborative (Oakland, CA) – Exploring technology-agnostic energy networks as tools for realizing accessible energy infrastructure in East Oakland.
  • Energizing Southeast Alaska (Thorne Bay, AK) ­– Working with a remote Alaskan community to rethink the use of forest products as a sustainable solution to meet energy challenges.
  • Groundwork Elizabeth & Partners (Elizabeth, NJ) – Partnering with public housing, a state university, and a non-profit to explore clean energy options for seniors in public housing in Elizabeth, NJ.
  • Hui Ulu Mea ʻAi for the Cultivation of Community Self-Reliance (Waiāhole, HI) – Exploring micro-hydropower in Waiāhole Valley on the island of Oʻahu to enable resilience in their rural community.
  • Just Transition Rural Innovators (Delta County, CO) - Linking decarbonization, industrial efficiencies and carbon management at an old coalmine with community energy for jobs and climate harm reduction.
  • Lowlanders for Energy Justice (Port Sulphur, LA) – Creating a sustainable, green energy solution for a disadvantaged, indigenous costal community to maintain their lifeways.
  • Michigan Tech Beaver Island Energy Resiliency Initiative (Charlevoix County, MI) ­– Supporting community priorities for a more sustainable and resilient future for the remote, rural island community.
  • Mojave Microgrid Hub (Gardnerville, NV) – Using stakeholder engagement and inclusive planning to foster economic growth, sustainability, and clean energy innovation.
  • Power-Up Jackson (Jackson, MS) ­­– Revitalizing West Jackson, MS with energy-efficient homes and solar panels to boost sustainability and empower residents.
  • Puerto Rico Hydro Microgrid Partners (Utuado Municipio, Puerto Rico) – Improving community resilience with small hydroelectric powered microgrids for low-resourced, rural communities in Puerto Rico.
  • Salish and Kootenai Community Energy Alliance (Ronan, MT) – Conducting communitybased participatory research, outreach, and education while honoring cultural traditions.
  • San Diego State University and Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Collaboration (Riverside County, CA) ­­– Expanding collaboration to address frequent power outages and distribution challenges in a very hot region with tribal communities. 
  • Siskiyou County Job Council (Yreka, CA) ­– Uplifting Siskiyou County's rural cities and unincorporated communities through renewable energy readiness and projects.
  • Town of Pennington Gap (Pennington Gap, VA) – Educating, supporting, and advocating for renewable energy implementation in southwest Virginia.
  • Tri-Town Rural Community-Driven Energy Planning Team (Otisfield, ME) ­– Planning for regional community-driven energy projects in three rural towns with high energy burdens & reliability issues.
  • White Frog Sustainable Solutions LLC (Lame Deer, MT) – Applying a Dynamic Assessment & Adaptive Education Model to guide community engagement, building efficiency planning, and implementation.

Read the full announcement on enery.gov.


SOLVE IT Phase 1 Winner Announcement and Virtual Event

May 16, 2024, 12:20 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Thank you to all of the SOLVE IT competitors for your submissions! The Phase 1: Embark winner announcement will take place on May 21, both through the HeroX platform and as part of a virtual event that all are welcome to join.  

The livestream winner announcement event will take place next Tuesday, May 21 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET, followed by a conversation about support for community-scale clean energy projects to foster an equitable clean energy transition. This virtual event will be hosted by the Offices of Technology Transitions, Clean Energy Demonstrations, and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.  

Register now to attend the livestream winner announcement and conversation: DOE SOLVE IT Prize Announcement 


SOLVE IT Prize Submission Deadline is This Friday!

April 8, 2024, 9:06 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

This week is your last chance to apply for the $5 million SOLVE IT Prize! Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of this change-making competition.   

 

As a reminder, the prize is seeking competitors with a demonstrated history of productive work with communities. Competitors will work collaboratively with stakeholders interested in community-scale planning around clean energy to engage their communities, build a network of support for clean energy or decarbonization projects, and develop plans for carrying out these projects. 

 

Ready to apply? Here’s how to get started:  

  1. Register on HeroX (click “Solve this Challenge”) 
  2. Submit a narrative describing your past community experience, your chosen community and energy challenges, community needs that you have identified, and the engagement plan you have crafted—ideally using the Submission Template and Summary Slide Template.  
  3. Include optional one-page letters of support or other documentation from partners or other relevant entities that are critical to the success of your effort.  

  

Please see the official SOLVE IT Prize rules for additional submission details, and explore the Resources tab to view all available resources that can help you craft your submission.    

 

Reach out to the prize team directly at solveit@nrel.gov with any further questions. Good luck!    


Streamline Your Submission with Two Valuable Resources

March 29, 2024, 8:20 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

The SOLVE IT submission deadline is coming up April 12 — just two weeks away! Still need help with yours? Take advantage of two important resources.  

  

Submission Templates  

Competitors are strongly encouraged to utilize the Submission Template and Summary Slide Template to guide their submission. The templates already include space for all of the mandatory submission elements to help ensure you don’t miss any important information.  

 

Power Connectors  

Power Connectors are organizations that support American-Made prize competitors by answering questions, providing feedback, and sharing their expertise. 

Two Power Connectors, ADL Ventures and Entrepreneur Futures Network, are available to assist all applicants to the SOLVE IT Prize, and are hosting office hours up until the submission deadline. Don’t miss the chance to leverage their invaluable guidance!   

 

Don’t forget, you can still stream the informational webinar recording and view the accompanying slides, and review the Q&A from the webinar. Reach out to the prize team directly at solveit@nrel.gov with further questions.    


Explore Submission Resources Available Now

March 19, 2024, 2:16 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

The deadline to submit to the SOLVE IT Prize is less than a month away! Explore a variety of resources that can help you prep your submission.   

 

Available Resources 

 

Submissions are due April 12 at 5 p.m. ET. Still have questions? Feel free to email the prize team directly at solveit@nrel.gov.   


Forum18
Teams1.1K
Entries
Resources
FAQ