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Solar District Cup

Solar District Cup

Challenging multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district. Read Overview...
Connections, Pride & Experience!

Welcome to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition! The Solar District Cup challenges multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district. These systems will integrate solar, storage, and other distributed technologies and capabilities across mixed-use districts, or groups of buildings served by a common electrical distribution feeder. The competition engages students across the engineering, urban planning, and finance disciplines to reimagine how energy is generated, managed, and used in a district.

Teams will compete in one of multiple divisions, each with a distinct district-use case and winner, based on the quality of their solar energy system design. The strongest concepts will provide the highest offset of annual energy and power, as well as financial viability, as determined by a techno-economic analysis conducted by students and evaluated by judges. The goal is to design, model, and present the most reliable, resilient, and cost-effective system possible.

Students will present their solutions to judges at a high-profile industry event, where the winners will be selected.           


The Solar District Cup prepares students to become leaders in the next generation of distributed solar energy. As competitors, students will:

  • Engage with industry leaders and industry professionals to forge mentorships and connections that will aid their transition to the solar energy workforce upon graduation
  • Incorporate real-world electricity data and energy-use constraints in the development and design of their energy systems
  • Create conceptual physical and electrical layouts, build financial models, perform data analysis, and evaluate for land use, permitting, and other regulations
  • Build experience with real-life examples of innovative, integrated renewable energy design in the marketplace
  • Compete to win a Solar District Cup division!

The competition encourages collaboration with academia and industry. 


  • Spring 2019 – Competition registration opens
  • Fall 2019 – Registration closes, and participating teams are announced
  • September 2019 – All-team kickoff and workshop at a major industry conference
  • Winter 2019 – Teams submit a progress report to the competition administrators
  • End of 2019 – Finalists are announced
  • Spring 2020 – Final deliverables due to judges
  • Late Spring 2020 – Finalists present their projects at an industry event to professional judges and industry leaders


The Solar District Cup is directed and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. Learn more.

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