American-Made Challenges


SolarApp+ Prize

The SolarAPP+ Prize awards $15,000 to local governments to adopt SolarAPP+, an online permitting platform for code-compliant PV systems.

Challenge Overview

Today, solar energy accounts for about 3% of U.S. electricity, which means that to combat climate change, the nation’s solar capacity would likely need to grow by hundreds of gigawatts in the next 15 years—with hundreds, thousands, and even millions of solar projects nationwide requiring building permits.

But counties, cities, and incorporated towns and villages in the United States are drowning in paperwork associated with approving residential PV systems. As a result, solar permitting can be a major bottleneck for residential solar installations, slowing the adoption of solar energy. The challenge is to convert building-permit applications for residential solar systems to approved systems by the local jurisdiction that has authority for that process.

SolarAPP+ is a tool that can automate the solar permitting review process, free up community staff time, and deliver instant permits for code-compliant PV systems. While SolarAPP+ is free for communities to adopt, there are associated costs that arise during the implementation process.

The SolarAPP+ Prize was created to ease the burden of these costs for communities and to accelerate the adoption of SolarAPP+. It is a two-step competition that will award up to $1 million to incentivize communities to accelerate the adoption of SolarAPP+. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will manage the prize program. Communities that are selected for the SolarAPP+ Prize—and implement SolarAPP+ by the specified deadline—will be able to receive $15,000.

The competition is open to all counties, cities, and any incorporated towns and villages in the United States that intend to adopt SolarAPP+ in the specified timelines. For more information, review the official prize rules.


Challenge Guidelines

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

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at


Challenge Updates

SolarApp+ Informational Webinar Recording Posted + ICC Webinar 10/11

Sept. 30, 2022, 6:16 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Hi SolarApp+ Prize Community,

Thank you for joining us for the September 27 SolarApp+ Prize informational webinar! The webinar recording and slides are now available. If you couldn’t attend the webinar or would like a refresher, watch the recording for an overview of the SolarApp+ tool and prize submission requirements and scoring criteria. 

If you would like to join a live webinar, we will be holding another SolarApp+ Prize Informational Webinar hosted by ICC on October 11 at 1pm ET – Register today!

Have questions? Share them in the public forum to gather feedback from the community and prize administrator. Or reach out to

-The SolarApp+ Prize team 

 PS – don’t forget that the Step 1 submission deadline is November 4th at 3pm ET!

Join us TOMORROW for the SolarApp+ Prize Information Webinar!

Sept. 26, 2022, 3:40 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Hey Innovators,

Join us tomorrow for this informational webinar covering everything you need to know about applying for the SolarAPP+ Prize. We’ll provide an overview of submission requirements, how to apply, and scoring criteria. Participants will also have an opportunity to ask questions.


The SolarAPP+ Prize was created to accelerate the adoption of SolarAPP+, an online platform that instantly issues permits for code-compliant residential photovoltaic systems. Authorities having jurisdiction are encouraged to apply for this prize, which offers funding to help offset the costs of adoption.