NREL Challenge

 22,132

Solar District Cup 2020

Challenging multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district.

This challenge is closed

stage:
2021 Registration Deadline
prize:
Connections, Pride & Experience!

This challenge is closed

Overview

Challenge Overview

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 integrate solar, storage, and other distributed energy 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.

 

CLASS OF 2020

The Solar District Cup Class of 2020 competed from September 2019 to April 2020. Student teams designed and modeled optimized distributed energy systems for their assigned district use case. The 2020 district use case partners were Ball State University, JBG SMITH, and New Mexico State University. 

From September to November 2019, the Solar District Cup Class of 2020 involved students and faculty advisors from 61 teams, representing 52 collegiate institutions as participating teams. These students built their portfolios with experience by developing solutions to the renewable energy needs of campuses or urban districts. 

After successfully demonstrating their progress and meeting the requirements of the Progress Deliverable Package, students and faculty advisors from 35 teams, representing 32 collegiate institutions, earned positions as Solar District Cup 2020 finalists.

The finalists moved on to compete in the second half of competition and prepared to submit their Final Deliverable Package. On April 26, 2020, the Solar District Cup held its 2020 competition event. Through a live video conference, 26 competing teams presented to a panel of judges in their district use case divisions. Each team had 15 minutes to present, followed by 10 minutes of questions from the judges.

On April 27, 2020, the third-, second-, and first-place winners in each division were announced. Following this announcement, the three first-place teams gave 8-minute presentations to a public audience, who voted on their favorite team to win the Industry Choice Award. 

 

THE SOLAR DISTRICT CUP CLASS OF 2020 WINNERS

Crystal Parks District Use Case Division

1st Place, Dartmouth College: This team proposed that Crystal Parks remain on Dominion Schedule 10 and install a photovoltaic- (PV) only system with a flat power purchase agreement (PPA) rate resulting in estimated savings of $273,000 over 20 years. To have 100% of their load covered by renewable energy, Dartmouth College recommended a virtual PPA in addition to the on-site PPA to cover the remaining load.

2nd Place, Colorado School of Mines: This team designed two solar solutions for the Crystal Parks district, including rooftop PV systems for all five buildings with approximately 160- to 290-kW of PV on each rooftop and an off-site PV system located at the decommissioned I-66 landfill 23 miles west of Arlington, VA, capable of offsetting approximately 100% of the district’s energy usage when combined with the five rooftop systems.

3rd Place, Cornell University: This team’s final solution achieved approximately 1.5-MW maximum (1.55213-MW, 1.940016-MWh per year) of solar energy produced through a five-building rooftop system, carports, solar flowers, and solar kiosks. The final solution also incorporated the opportunity for a 50-kW (100-kWh) battery storage system, which would provide enough power to sustain the district's emergency life systems for a minimum of an hour and a half.

New Mexico State University (NMSU) District Use Case Division

1st Place, University of Cincinnati: This team’s ground-mount PV and battery storage system was proposed approximately 1.5 miles east of NMSU’s Campus Park, near the Geothermal Substation. The system consisted of a 3.3-MW PV array and a 4-MWh battery storage system. A second PV system was also proposed, which included a 295-kW carport array with six canopies. For each canopy, 365-W monocrystalline Canadian Solar Inc. modules were selected.

2nd Place, West Virginia University: This team’s final system design consisted of three subsystems: a 278-kW fixed horizontal tilt PV array to be installed on the roof of the Corbett Student Union; a 988-kW, single-axis tracking PV array with a 405-kW/4-MWh lithium iron phosphate battery storage system located on the parcel of land next to the Geothermal Substation; and a small 16-kW solar pergola structure on the Hadley Hall field. All PV arrays make use of Canadian Solar Inc. bifacial PV modules. 

3rd Place, University of Colorado Boulder: This team’s solution consisted of 10 rooftop installations, two parking lot installations, and a small shaded installation in the quad in front of Hadley Hall. The final solar PV system for NMSU presents a 16.5% energy offset for the demand provided by the competition. 

Ball State University (BSU) District Use Case Division

1st Place, Florida International University: This team proposed a 13,632,501-kW PV system that will help to offset the energy produced on the campus by about 78%. Within the area available on the campus, the PV system utilized rooftop areas, available land, and a church parking lot to mount 32,633 panels.

2nd Place, New Mexico State University: This team proposed a comprehensive approach to integrate solar PV and battery electric storage system, solar thermal, and thermal storage system. They also made suggestions for electrification of the campus fleet, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and added artistic solar benches in several locations throughout the campus. 

3rd Place, Creighton University: This team proposed two phases of development that included two distinct solar PV and battery systems, including rooftop PV systems on four different buildings on BSU’s campus and ground-mounted PV arrays that will take advantage of single-axis trackers on the northern section of campus. A small PV system has also been designed for the 55° south-facing wall on the architecture building, which creates a marketing opportunity for BSU.

The Solar District Cup 2020 Industry Choice winner was University of Cincinnati. Congratulations!

 

LEARN MORE

To learn more about the Class of 2020: 

To learn more about the program and the current competition: 

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

Guidelines

Challenge Guidelines

GUIDELINES

The Rules document provided a framework for student activities, student team submittal requirements, and judging evaluation.

 

APPROACH

The Solar District Cup is designed to inspire students to consider new career opportunities, learn new industry-relevant skills, engage with the professional marketplace, and prepare to lead the next generation of distributed solar energy. The Class of 2020 competitors achieved the following:

  • Built experience with innovative renewable energy design
  • Developed real-world solutions that shape the future of solar energy
  • Engaged with industry professionals to forge relationships and connections that aid participating students’ transition to the solar energy workforce upon graduation
  • Competed to earn national recognition upon winning a Solar District Cup and/or being selected as an industry choice winner.

The Solar District Cup encourages collaboration between academia and industry. The program seeks to establish public-private partnership and demonstrate corporate and nonprofit industry co-sponsorship.

 

PROBLEM STATEMENT

The Solar District Cup 2020 challenge was to:

Design a solar-plus-storage system for a district that maximizes energy offset and financial savings over 20 years. 

The Solar District Cup 2020 had three divisions. Each division had at least six teams competing against each other. Each division had a distinct use case of an existing mixed-use urban district or campus interested in pursuing increased distributed energy development. The competition organizers provided each team with the details of the district use case for the division in which the team competed.

During the 2020 competition, a district use case was a defined area served by an electrical distribution feeder with a collection of buildings, open space, parking, and infrastructure.

 

WHAT TEAMS DID AND WON

The goal for each team was to design a solar-plus-storage system for a campus or urban district. Competitors analyzed electric distribution grid interactions and assumed the role of renewable energy systems developers to produce a power purchase agreement proposal for their division’s district.

The winning teams in each division of the Solar District Cup 2020 received a trophy and national recognition. Additionally, one team (University of Cincinnati) was identified as the industry choice winner. All student competitors gained valuable experience with real-life examples of innovative renewable energy design. Competitors learned to use leading industry software, presented to nationally respected judges, and engaged with industry. 

 

HOW JUDGING WORKED

A qualified panel of five judges per division, comprising subject-matter experts and representatives from the partner district use cases selected by the competition organizers, scored finalist submissions according to the judging statements listed in the Rules. The judging panel for each division selected a first-, second-, and third-place team for each division. The judging panel made their selections through a subjective evaluation based on their expertise and experience.

 

COMPETITION DELIVERABLES

The competition deliverables comprised a proposal similar to a power purchase agreement request for proposals response and contained the following elements:

Progress Deliverable Package – Solar PV System:

  • Conceptual system design—layout, specifications, and energy production
  • Distribution system impact analysis—power flow model and approach
  • Financial analysis
  • Development plan—building and site plan, and construction plan.

Final Deliverable Package – Solar PV + Battery Electric Storage System:

  • Conceptual system design—layout, specifications, energy production, and battery cycles
  • Distribution system impact analysis—power flow model and approach
  • Financial analysis—financial narrative and model
  • Development plan—building and site plan, and construction and development plan
  • Optimization strategy narrative and presentation.

 

ELIGIBILITY

The Solar District Cup invited participation of teams composed of at least three students enrolled in accredited U.S.-based collegiate institutions. Students had to be enrolled in at least one class and be pursuing a degree for the duration of the competition. Students and faculty advisors were not required to be U.S. citizens but had to be legally residing in the United States at the time of the competition. Members of the judging panels, competition organizer staff, and DOE and national laboratory employees were ineligible to compete.

Although any level of collegiate student was eligible to compete, the challenge scope was intended for multidisciplinary teams of upper-level undergraduate students. Student participation could have been integrated into senior design or capstone work, counted as elective or independent study course credit, been added to the curriculum of existing classes, or be considered an extracurricular student activity. 

To learn more, please review the official Solar District Cup 2020 Rules.

Timeline
Updates 15

Challenge Updates

New Solar District Cup Competition Page

July 20, 2020, 12:32 p.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

The Solar District Cup organizers would like to share that all future updates to the program will be made on the main Solar District Cup HeroX page. This is where you will find information about the current program and competitors. 

The Solar District Cup 2020 HeroX site will remain accessible as a resource and archive of the 2020 program. If you are following the Class of 2020 HeroX page and would like to receive updates about future challenges, you can follow the current competition on HeroX or subscribe to the newsletter

Whether you participated in the Class of 2020 or enjoyed following the program, we invite you to join the Class of 2021 competition and remain an active part of the Solar District Cup community! 


Congrats to the Solar District Cup 2020 Winners!

April 30, 2020, 1:39 p.m. PDT by Joe Simon

On Sunday, April 26, the Solar District Cup 2020 competition event was conducted. Through live video conference, 26 competing teams presented to a panel of judges in one of three district use case divisions. Each team had 15 minutes to present, followed by 10 minutes of questions from the judges. Afterward, the judges deliberated to select the third-, second-, and first-place winners in each division. The judges were uniformly impressed by the caliber of solutions presented by all the competing teams. 

On Monday, April 27, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the winners on a live video conference event. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power, David Solan spoke on how the Solar District Cup addresses Energy Department goals related to growing the solar energy workforce before unveiling the following winners.

Crystal Parks district use case division: 

1st Place: Dartmouth College 
2nd Place: Colorado School of Mines 
3rd Place: Cornell University

New Mexico State University district use case division: 

1st Place: University of Cincinnati
2nd Place: West Virginia University
3rd Place: University of Colorado Boulder 

Ball State University district use case division: 

1st Place: Florida International University 
2nd Place: New Mexico State University 
3rd Place: Creighton University 

Later that day, the three first-place teams gave 8-minute presentations to an audience of peers and industry professionals. The video conference attendees then voted on their favorite team to win the Industry Choice Award. After voting concluded, DOE’s Director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office, Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus, announced University of Cincinnati as the Solar District Cup 2020 Industry Choice winner.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the inaugural year of the Solar District Cup, and congratulations! 

Image of University of Cincinnati as the Solar District Cup 2020 Industry Choice winner.

You’re Invited! Join the 2020 Competition Presentations!

April 24, 2020, 6:51 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

You’re invited to join the 2020 competition presentations and participate in the selection of the Industry Choice winner of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar District Cup 2020 Competition

Graphic version of Solar District Cup 2020 Competition Event agenda

Over the 2019/2020 academic school year, collegiate students have worked on developing creative solar solutions for a campus or urban district. This weekend is the culmination of their hard work as they compete in the final competition event.

All events are open to public and industry attendance. 

Here’s the flow of events:

  • Sunday, April 26, 12-6 p.m. ET
    • Using live video conferencing, students will present to a panel of judges, other competing teams within their division, and guests.
    • Students will give 15-minute presentations followed by 10 minutes of Q&A with the division judges.
    • Judge deliberations will take place after the student presentations have concluded.
  • Monday, April 27, 11-11:30 a.m. ET
    • First-, second-, and third-place winners in each division will be announced by live video conference.
  • Monday, April 27, 2-3 p.m. ET
    • The three first-place winners will give 8-minute project story presentations to a public audience by live video conference.
    • The audience will vote on their favorite team to win the Industry Choice award.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to watch the 26 competing teams present their solutions and help select the Solar District Cup 2020 Industry Choice winner—RSVP on the 2020 Event page to see the presentations and vote on your favorite team on April 27!


Announcing the Solar District Cup Class of 2021

April 3, 2020, 6:46 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

The Solar District Cup is excited to announce the next round of competition! The Class of 2021 program will launch on April 30, 2020, and span the 2020-2021 academic year.

The 2021 program follows the same format, inspiring collegiate students to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district. Participants will gain real-world experience through a hands-on multidisciplinary project that connects them with valuable solar industry resources. This is an excellent opportunity for faculty to challenge students in an engaging way while preparing them for the solar energy workforce upon graduation.

The Solar District Cup organizers are eager to once again see the creative solutions proposed by students in this next year of competition. Team registration opens on April 30, 2020. At that time, interested students or faculty can register to participate in the 2021 program. The deadline to register a team is September 29, 2020. 

Follow on HeroX for updates on the Class of 2021. We hope you join us for the 2021 competition!


Live Video Conference Competition To Occur April 26-27

April 1, 2020, 9:02 a.m. PDT by Joe Simon

The Solar District Cup 2020 Competition Event will occur April 26 and 27 as a fully online event.

Here’s how this new event format will look:

  • Using live video and presentations, students will present their solutions via online video conference on Sunday, April 26, to a panel of industry judges, all other competing teams, and guests.
  • Each student team will give a 15-minute presentation and participate in a 10-minute Q&A session with their judging panel.
  • Judge deliberations will take place on Sunday, April 26, after the student presentations have concluded.
  • First-, second-, and third-place winners in each division will be announced the morning of Monday, April 27.
  • First-place winners of each division will present their 8-minute project story the afternoon of Monday, April 27, where attendees will vote to determine the Industry Choice winner.

We know the student participants have invested significant time and work into this project, and we are excited to see their designs. We hope that you’ll plan to join us for their presentations.

Links to register for each portion of the competition will be provided in a future update.


Forum 20
Teams 618
Resources
FAQ
2020 Notifications

2020 Notifications

NOTE: Throughout the competition, the organizers of the Solar District Cup send notifications to registered team members that are relevant to their participation. Much of this information--and the sessions or resources associated with it--are not appropriate for the general public. However, we recognize that team members are added throughout the competition and may have a need to view notifications and information that were sent before they joined HeroX. As such, this page serves as a historical record of all notifications sent during the competition. Should you have any questions, contact the organizers at solardistrictcup@nrel.gov.

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Invitation to Attend 2020 Event Activities

Sent: April 25, 2020, 9:43 a.m. MDT

We're so excited for the 2020 competition presentations, the division winner announcement, and the selection of the Industry Choice winner of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar District Cup 2020 Competition

This weekend is the culmination of your hard work as you compete in the final competition event.

To address a common question from our practice sessions - all presentations are open to you, your classmates, your advisors, friends, and family. Everyone will use the same Zoom meeting links, listed on the 2020 Event Tab and we'll elevate each student presenter accordingly. 

We've received everyone's presentations and our judges have completed their preliminary review of your deliverables. They are very excited to see you present your solutions. 

Just-in-case, here's a reminder of the flow of events:

  • Sunday, April 26, 12-6 p.m. ET
    • Using live video conferencing, students will present to a panel of judges, other competing teams within their division, and guests.
    • Students will give 15-minute presentations followed by 10 minutes of Q&A with the division judges.
    • Judge deliberations will take place after the student presentations have concluded.
  • Monday, April 27, 11-11:30 a.m. ET
    • First-, second-, and third-place winners in each division will be announced by live video conference.
  • Monday, April 27, 2-3 p.m. ET
    • The three first-place winners will give 8-minute project story presentations to a public audience by live video conference.
    • The audience will vote on their favorite team to win the Industry Choice award.

We encourage and expect competing students to watch the each other's presentations - you can learn and be inspired from each other! You're welcome to move from one division to another throughout the day on Sunday, no different from switching presentation rooms at a conference. 

Everyone should visit the 2020 Event page to access the session links.

Graphic version of Solar District Cup 2020 Competition Event agenda

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Invitation to Attend 2020 Event Activities

Sent: April 22, 2020, 9:20 a.m. MDT

Hello Solar District Cup participants,

Wow - what a year it has been. We hope you are all well. We appreciate all the work that you put in throughout your participation in the competition. As you know, over the 2019/2020 academic school year, your fellow collegiate students competing in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar District Cup have worked on developing creative solar solutions for a campus or urban district. While we know not all teams were able to cross the finish line, for a wide variety of circumstances, we hope that you learned along the way.

This Sunday, April 26,  our final 26 teams will give live 15-minute presentations to judges, peers, and guests according to the following agenda:

On Monday, April 27, division winners will be announced at 11 a.m. ET, and from 2-3 p.m. ET, the three first-place teams will give a short presentation to a public audience, who will vote to choose an Industry Choice winner. 

I’m reaching out today to invite and encourage you to attend some or all of the 2020 competition event activities. 

Sunday, April 26

12 – 6 p.m. EDT - Solar District Cup Student Team Division Presentations

Monday, April 27

11– 11:30 a.m. EDT - Announcement of Solar District Cup Division Winners

2 – 3 p.m. EDT - Solar District Cup Industry Choice Presentations and Voting

This is a great opportunity to see the final solutions developed by competing teams. 

We hope you'll join us!

Thanks, 

The Solar District Cup organizers

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2020 Competition Judges and Schedule

Sent: April 17, 2020, 5:35 p.m. MDT

Hi Solar District Cup Teams,

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition is proud to have the enthusiastic support of 15 industry professionals as judges. Their division assignments and brief bios are available on HeroX in a newly released “2020 Judges” page. Please review their information at your convenience as you prepare for your presentations. 

Remember, your two final presentation files are due by 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 23, via HeroX submittal. We encourage you to watch the recording of our webinar titled “Final Deliverable Package and Presentation Prep” on HeatSpring, which includes tips for giving the most effective presentations. Also, be sure to review the Rules (Release date: April 2, 2020), Appendix D, section 5.B., for format and content requirements.

As indicated previously, we have selected Zoom for Government as the Solar District Cup 2020 video conference platform. To help ensure the most reliable video conference event possible, we are asking all competing teams to sign up for a 15-minute slot on Wednesday, April 22 to test video conference connections with a Solar District Cup division coordinator. This will be your last opportunity to address any remaining logistical questions. Time slots are available on a first-come-first-served-basis, using the Calendly website. 

On Sunday, April 26, from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. EDT, judges will witness a 15-minute live presentation by each team to inform final scores and determine the winners of the competition. Each division will present in parallel. Ten minutes will be provided for judges to ask questions of each team. The exact presentation schedule is available on HeroX in a newly released “2020 Event” page. This page will also contain the links to register for each of the division presentations. 

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns by reaching out to solardistrictcup@nrel.gov

The Solar District Cup organizers

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2020 Competition Teams and Presentation Order

Sent: April 15, 2020, 7:42 p.m. MDT

Hi Solar District Cup Teams,

Congratulations to those you who submitted your Final Deliverable Packages! We received 25 submissions from the Solar District Cup 2020 competition teams.

On Sunday, April 26, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. EDT, judges will witness a 15-minute live presentation by each team to inform final scores and determine the winners of the competition. Each division will present in parallel. Ten minutes will be provided for judges to ask questions of each team. 

We’ve used a random number generator to assign presentation order as follows. Exact presentation times will be shared soon. 

Division 1: Crystal Parks District Use Case

  1. Illinois Institute of Technology
  2. Hanover College
  3. Appalachian State University
  4. The University of Virginia
  5. Colorado School of Mines
  6. Dartmouth College
  7. Cornell University

Division 2: New Mexico State University District Use Case

  1. Indiana University--Purdue University Indianapolis
  2. Northern Arizona University
  3. Clemson University
  4. University of Cincinnati
  5. University of Colorado Boulder
  6. Marquette University
  7. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  8. Brown University
  9. West Virginia University

Division 3: Ball State University District Use Case

  1. Western Washington University
  2. New Mexico State University
  3. Arizona State University
  4. California State University, Los Angeles
  5. The Ohio State University
  6. Georgia Institute of Technology
  7. Florida International University
  8. Creighton University
  9. University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

We have selected Zoom for Government as the Solar District Cup 2020 video conference platform. To help ensure the most reliable video conference event possible, we are asking all competition teams to sign up for a 15-minute slot to test video conference connections with a Solar District Cup division coordinator and address any remaining logistical questions on Wednesday, April 22. Time slots are available on a first-come-first-served-basis, using the Calendly website

Remember, your two final presentation files are due by 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 23, via HeroX submittal. We encourage you to watch the recording of our webinar titled “Final Deliverable Package and Presentation Prep” on HeatSpring, which includes tips for giving the most effective presentations. Also, be sure to review the Rules (Release date: April 2, 2020), Appendix D, section 5.B., for format and content requirements.

Congratulations, again, on submitting your Final Deliverable Packages, especially during this extraordinary time. We look forward to seeing your presentations! We’ll share information about the judging panels for each division as well as the competition event schedules in the coming days. 

The Solar District Cup organizers

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Time to Submit Your Final Deliverable Package

Sent: April 14, 2020, 8:47 a.m. MDT

Hello Solar District Cup teams,

Today’s the day—Final Deliverable Packages are due! Please plan to upload on HeroX by 5 p.m. ET today, April 14. We can’t wait to see your solutions and provide your files to the judges.  

We, and the judges, know how challenging this spring has been for all of you. Please submit your best available solution, sharing your passion with the judges and other teams!

Several teams have noted that 2.B., “Rationale For Sizing The Battery”, was not previously indicated in Appendix D, and that you included the relevant content in 2.A., “Descriptive Approach to Power Flow Model”. That is acceptable. 

Following receipt your submissions, judges will begin reviewing your Final Deliverable Packages. Please look for forthcoming details about presentation file submission, presentation times, and practicing with our live video conference platform.

Thank you—we look forward to seeing your submissions!

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

www.herox.com/solardistrictcup

 

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Guidance for the 4/14 Final Deliverable Package

Sent: April 9, 2020, 4:51 p.m. MDT

Hi Solar District Cup finalists, 

Wow! We are so proud of your participation, especially during these challenging times. The judges and Solar District Cup organizers are excited to see the solutions you’ve developed over the past several months. 

This is your friendly reminder that your Final Deliverable Packages are due Tuesday, April 14, at 5 p.m. EST, in accordance with the Solar District Cup timeline on HeroX. Please make sure you start your submission with enough time to get everything uploaded and submitted before the deadline. When you are ready to upload your project, please submit your best work given the circumstances, and know that we’re here to support you every step of the way.

The Solar District Cup Rules outline the exact requirements for the Final Deliverable Package. See the "What to Submit" Section on pages 7-9 and the detailed requirements in checklist-form provided in Appendix D starting on page 21. 

The judging panel for each division will review your packages before witnessing your presentations on April 26. They will evaluate each team using the process outlined in the “How Entries Are Scored” section on page 10 of the Rules. You will be scored on each “Judging Statement for Evaluation”.  

When your files are ready for submission, here are the steps one person on your team will have to take: 

  1. Start by going to the Solar District Cup HeroX page.
  2. Click the orange “Begin Entry” button at the top of the home page.
  3. Ensure that “Submit as a team” is checked at the top of the page.
  4. VERY IMPORTANT: Title your project using the naming convention in the Rules, including the name of your collegiate institution and assigned district use case (e.g., “BSU_OhioUniversity_ConceptualDesign.PDF”). This will enable us to efficiently assign your team to the proper judges.
  5. Give your project a short description – note that this is not part of the evaluation criteria.
  6. Upload an image of your team or that represents your project – note that this is not part of the evaluation criteria. If needed, consider combining multiple individual team photos into one.
  7. Upload the required files as listed above and in the Rules.
  8. Upload the “Non-Judged Questions on Team Makeup” – note that this is not part of the evaluation criteria.
  9. Click “Save & Preview”.
  10. Review your entry and press “Submit Final Entry” – note that up until the deadline, you can still choose “Return to Editing” and make further refinements.

Again, we highly recommend you do not wait until the last minute to submit your Final Deliverable Package. This will give your team time to overcome slow upload speeds and ensure all your files appear properly. 

Your team will be prompted with an additional submission process for the upload of your final presentations, which are due April 23. At 5 p.m. EST.

If you have questions regarding this process or the requirements, please contact the Solar District Cup organizers

Best of luck!

Joe & the Solar District Cup organizers

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Revised Rules Release & Use Case Clarification

Sent: April 2, 2020, 3:14 p.m. MDT

Hi Solar District Cup finalists, 

Thank you for your continued commitment to the project and for reaching out with so many detailed and high-quality questions. 

To capture our change of dates, the transition to a live video conference event, and a few error corrections, we have released an update to the Rules, as of April 2, 2020. Please see the April 2 edition of the Rules, available in the HeroX Resources section

The summary of Rules changes are as follows: 

  1. Changed finalist presentation and winner announcement dates.
  2. Changed conference location references to video conference.
  3. Added to Table 2. Final Deliverable Package Content and Judging Statements, section 5. Optimization Strategy, right-side column.
  4. Corrected "How Entries are Scored” section, Item 4.
  5. In “Travel for Competition” section, deleted content that no longer applies.
  6. Changed Appendix D., Sections 2.A. and 2.B. to align with Table 2.
  7. Added Appendix D., Section 2.C. to align with Table 2.

Additionally, Dr. Aadil Latif wanted us to share the following guidance with the teams working on the New Mexico State University district use case. 

  • In OpenDSS, the base case New Mexico State University circuit has some over and under voltage hours on the low voltage side. For your solutions, please consider the results in the base case as acceptable and compare your scenarios accordingly. For example, if you have two violations in the base case and 10 after adding PV, use the difference in your presented work.

We look forward to seeing your Final Deliverable Package submitted on HeroX by 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 14. Following submission of your Final Deliverable Package on April 14, an additional submission option will be enabled on HeroX where teams can submit their final presentation files by the 5 p.m. EDT deadline on April 23. 

Please reach out to the organizers at  with any questions or concerns. 

Thanks,

The Solar District Cup organizers 

 

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Extension of Deliverable Deadline & Event Date

Sent: March 27, 2020, 12:06 p.m. MDT

Hi Solar District Cup finalists, 

The Solar District Cup organizers have decided to extend the Final Deliverable Package due date and competition event dates by one week

We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone, and we hope that this extra week helps to relieve some of the stress you’ve all no doubt been experiencing of late. 

This decision was informed by several factors, including your responses to the Google Form survey, as well as a comprehensive review of your academic schedules and final exam timelines as posted on school websites. Based on these resources, we determined that a one-week extension is the best way to give students more time on their submissions while minimizing potential conflicts with exams, graduation, or post-grad career plans. 

The new due dates for Solar District Cup are: 

  • Tuesday, April 14, 2020, 5:00 p.m. ET - Deadline for receipt of Final Deliverable Package from finalist teams.
  • Thursday, April 23, 5:00 p.m. ET - Deadline for receipt of final presentation files from finalist teams.
  • Sunday, April 26: Finalists present projects on a video conference.
  • Monday, April 27: Winners Announced and Industry Choice presentations

Please let us know if you have any questions about these schedule changes. We look forward to seeing your progress in a few weeks! 

Thanks,

The Solar District Cup organizers 

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Presentation Prep Webinar Recording & Reminders

Sent: March 18, 2020, 3:44 p.m. MDT
 

Hi Solar District Cup finalists, 

We truly thank you for your continued engagement and commitment to the Solar District Cup alongside what we know is a complete upheaval of your lives—from class-format changes, moves from your dorms, and a need to practice social distancing. We hope that this email finds you all healthy. 

As shared yesterday, the Solar District Cup 2020 Competition will transition to a fully virtual event. We know you all have invested significant time and work into this project, and we are excited to see your designs. We hope that we can celebrate and share your ideas successfully using this virtual competition format before the onset of final exams. 

Thank you to those who joined this week’s Final Deliverable Package & Presentation Prep webinar. If you were unable to attend, you can find a recording of this webinar, as well as other Office Hours recordings, on HeatSpring using the links below.

While we are working to track each school’s guidance on student activity, please feel free to communicate any challenges you are facing or concerns you have with respect to the Solar District Cup by emailing solardistrictcup@nrel.gov and by completing this Google Form. This will help the organizers plan for the best possible competition.

Thanks,

The Solar District Cup organizers 

__________________________________________________________

Virtual Solar District Cup Event

Sent: March 17, 2020, 10:35 a.m. MDT
 

Dear Solar District Cup faculty and students:

These are truly extraordinary times. We can hardly imagine the hardships you are all experiencing as your universities implement measures to keep you safe. We hope that this email finds you healthy and wish you all smooth transitions in these trying times.

We appreciate that you may be receiving an overwhelming about of communications these days. However, we want to ensure that you have the latest information about the Solar District Cup competition as things continue to rapidly evolve. 

Following recent guidance by the President advising the limitation of gatherings to no more than 10 people, the Solar District Cup 2020 Competition Event planned for April 19-20 will transition to a fully virtual event. We will send a revised agenda with further details soon, but we wanted to let you know as soon as possible of this change. 

While there are more details to come, please see the following guidance around participating in the virtual event. More information will be provided via HeroX communication and in a forthcoming addendum to the Rules.

  • We are planning to enable live video and presentations via online videoconference on Sunday, April 19, to a panel of industry judges, all other competing teams, and guests. The schedule will still be a 15-minute student presentation followed by 10 minutes of Q&A with the division judges.
  • Judge deliberations will still take place on Sunday, April 19, after the student presentations have concluded.
  • First-, second-, and third-place winners in each division will be announced virtually on Monday, April 20.

We know you all have invested significant time and work into this project, and we excited to see your designs. We hope that we can celebrate and share your ideas successfully using this virtual competition format before the onset of final exams. 

The Solar District Cup organizers continue to follow developments related to the coronavirus spread. The health and safety of our participants is our highest priority as we plan for the 2020 Competition Event. Thank you for your patience and continued communications with the organizers as we adapt to ongoing developments. Please feel free to contact us at solardistrictcup@nrel.gov with any questions or concerns.

Please remember to fill out this Google Form as soon as possible with your team’s continued participation plans and join us for the Solar District Cup Office Hours: Final Deliverable Package & Presentation Prep webinar taking place today, March 17, at 1 p.m. ET. If you are unable to join, a recording will be made available.

We are eager to learn more about each team’s progress.

The Solar District Cup organizers

 

__________________________________________________________

All-Team Final Presentation Prep Webinar

Sent: March 16, 2020, 3:52 p.m. MDT
 

Hi Solar District Cup finalists, 

We hope you’re all doing well and staying healthy! Please plan to join our Final Deliverable Package & Presentation Prep webinar tomorrow, March 17 at 1 p.m. ET.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to rapidly evolve, the Solar District Cup organizers will be in touch shortly  with additional information about the in-person event. We know you are likely receiving updates from many organizations throughout the day, so we appreciate your attention at such an extraordinary time. 

If you haven’t already done so, please fill out this Google Form as soon as possible with your team’s continued participation plans.

Please plan to join us tomorrow, March 17, for the Solar District Cup Office Hours: Final Deliverable Package & Presentation Prep webinar from 1-2:30 p.m. ET. During this webinar, the Solar District Cup organizers will discuss Final Deliverable Packages, presentation requirements, and other final reminders. This is a time for you to ask questions related to your  competition deliverables. 

We’ll also be joined by two guest speakers who will offer pointers on making your story stand out during presentations:

  • Mellini Monique: Vocal culturist, experiential curator, and speech and presentation coach at Vocal Culture Garden.
  • Marquis Cabrera: Co-founder and CEO at Stat Zero.

We request that at least one person from your team attends tomorrow’s Office Hours. If you have questions but are unable to join the webinar in person, please send your questions to solardistrictcup@nrel.gov ahead of time. 

Register here for the Solar District Cup Office Hours: Final Deliverable Package & Presentation Prep webinar.

We look forward to talking to you tomorrow!

Thanks, 

The Solar District Cup organizers 

___________________________________________________________

2020 Competition Event to Continue

Sent: March 12, 2020, 8:51 a.m. MDT

Solar District Cup finalists,

As the Solar District Cup organizers prepare for the 2020 Competition Event in Atlanta, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is making news. At this time, we continue to plan for a successful in-person event. As of today, March 12, our partners hosting Solar and Energy Storage Southeast expect the conference to continue.

We recognize that many of your schools have implemented travel policies that may limit your ability to travel to Atlanta or that you might not feel comfortable traveling under current circumstances. 

As we continue to monitor the status of COVID-19, the Solar District Cup organizers are developing a contingency plan to enable optional remote participation for the 2020 competition event on April 19-20. The finalist competition event will not be rescheduled or cancelled. We recognize the effort that your team has put into your projects, and we commit to hosting the competition and awarding winners.

Participation

We highly recommend teams attend and present in person if possible, as we see benefits to our students and faculty through the networking, collaboration, and conference activities. If teams choose to participate remotely, the organizers will work with those teams to test live video capabilities prior to the event to minimize technical difficulties. 

Please fill out this Google Form by Friday, March 20, with your team’s decision around in-person participation. If you already know you cannot participate in person, please complete the form so that we can coordinate with your team accordingly.

Next Steps

  • Final Deliverable Packages are still due April 7, as stated in the Rules.
  • The Solar and Energy Storage Southeast conference agenda will continue as planned in Atlanta.
  • In-person student and judge participation are preferred, but remote participation is an option.

We will continue communication with teams via HeroX as the situation evolves. The schedule of deliverable package deadlines, student presentations, and announcement of winners will not change. 

Thank you for your patience as we continue to receive information about this situation. Please reach out with any questions or concerns to solardistrictcup@nrel.gov

The Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

 

OpenDSS Office Hours Recording & Final Webinar

Sent: March 9, 2020, 2:55 p.m. MDT

Hi Solar District Cup participants,

Thank you to those who joined this week’s Office Hours sessions on OpenDSS. If you were unable to attend, you can find recordings on HeatSpring using the links below. Please plan to attend our final webinar, "Final Deliverable Package & Presentation Prep" occurring Tuesday, March 17 from 1-2 p.m. EST. We will have guest speakers to help you prepare your presentations & will cover key content on planning for the event.

Additional information on preparing for our event at Solar and Energy Storage Southeast will be distributed in the coming days. 

Thanks for your continued participation in our competition!

The Solar District Cup organizers

OpenDSS Training, Office Hours, and Atlanta Hotel

Sent: March 2, 2020, 4:38 p.m. MST

Hi Solar District Cup participants,

We wanted to remind you of tomorrow’s Office Hours session on OpenDSS, happening from 1-2 p.m. ET. Note that we recently made additional OpenDSS training available on HeatSpring. If you haven’t already reviewed this content, we recommend doing so before tomorrow’s Office Hours. 

Register here for the OpenDSS Office Hours on Friday, March 6 from 1-2 p.m. ET.

If you haven’t yet booked lodging in Atlanta for the Final Competition Event, we highly recommend doing so as soon as possible. We have reserved an optional block of rooms at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel in downtown Atlanta for $89 (plus taxes & fees) per night for a traditional room with two double beds. More rooms have recently been added to this block, so if you previously tried to book your lodging at the Sheraton and found the $89 block to be full, please check back for additional room availability. Should it fill again, please let us know at solardistrictcup@nrel.gov and we should be able to have the hotel add even more rooms to the block.

If desired, please the following link to access this special rate and book your rooms. The room block is a courtesy hold, so we recommend booking your room as soon as you can to confirm your attendance. 

Please let us know if you have questions, 

The Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

Register for Aurora Solar Office Hours this Friday

Sent: Feb. 26, 2020, 2:22 p.m. MST

Hello Solar District Cup participants, 

Don’t forget to register for this week’s Solar District Cup Office Hours: Aurora Solar on Friday, Feb. 28, from 1-2 p.m. EST. We’ll be joined by Aurora Solar staff who will be able to answer questions specific to the program.

Please register ahead of time using this registration link and come prepared with questions. We highly recommend at least one team member attends Office Hours, although it is not mandatory. If you are unable to attend these webinars live, recordings will be available afterward on the HeatSpring platform. 

We look forward to answering your questions!

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

Office Hours Recap & SPI Poster Call

Sent: Feb. 21, 2020, 2:29 p.m. MST
Hi teams, 

Thank you to those who joined this week’s Office Hours sessions on REopt Lite and SAM. If you were unable to attend, you can find recordings on HeatSpring using the links below. Please also consider registering for our upcoming Office Hours sessions:    

On a separate note, we wanted to make everyone aware that our partner Solar Power Events is still accepting poster and abstract submissions for the Solar Power International (SPI) conference in September, though the deadline of Monday, February 24 is rapidly approaching. This is the same conference that hosted the Solar District Cup Warmup Workshop at the beginning of the 2020 competition. SPI 2020 will be held in Anaheim, CA, from Sept. 14-17. 

This could be a great opportunity to showcase the hard work your team put into the Solar District Cup this past year, as well as any other major research being conducted by your team members. We encourage you to consider submitting a poster or abstract if you plan to attend SPI in September. 

If you are interested in submitting a poster or abstract—related to your participation in the Solar District Cup or something entirely different—submissions are due Monday, Feb. 24, at 11:59 p.m. PST. Submissions are not required of any team, but we wanted to share the opportunity with each of you. 

Thanks for your continued participation in our competition!

The Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

Office Hours: SAM (Tomorrow 2/21) and Aurora Solar

Sent: Feb. 20, 2020, 2:43 p.m. MST
Hi teams, 

 

This is a reminder that tomorrow, Feb. 21, is the Solar District Cup Office Hours session on SAM. The webinar will take place from 1-2 p.m. EST. We will be joined by SAM experts from NREL who are available to answer your questions. Register here for the SAM webinar.

 

We have also added one more Office Hours session to the schedule. Please plan to attend our upcoming Solar District Cup Office Hours with Aurora Solar on Friday, Feb. 28 from 1-2 p.m. EST. Register here for the Aurora Solar webinar.

 

Office Hours are your chance to ask questions and speak directly with experts in a live setting. Please review trainings and come prepared with questions or submit your questions ahead of time so we can address them during Office Hours. If you are unable to attend the webinars live, recordings will be made available after. 

A reminder that our 2020 Office Hours are: 

We look forward to answering your questions! 

 

The Solar District Cup organizers  

___________________________________________________________

Office Hours Reminder: Next One is Feb 19

Sent: Feb. 18, 2020, 12:14 p.m. MST

Hi teams, 

We have several upcoming Office Hours sessions to accompany new trainings and questions on Final Deliverable Packages. Please use the links to register and then plan to attend our upcoming Office Hours with Solar District Cup experts as follows: 

Please register for each using the links above. Each session is a chance for students and faculty to ask questions and speak directly with experts in a live setting. We recommend reviewing each of the trainings before attending Office Hours so you can come prepared with questions. If you are unable to attend the webinars live, a recording will be made available after. 

We look forward to answering your questions! 

The Solar District Cup organizers  

 

___________________________________________________________

Atlanta Hotel Block Option for Teams

Sent: Feb. 18, 2020, 9:51 a.m. MST

Hi teams,

The Solar District Cup organizers have secured a block of rooms for Solar District Cup participants at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel in downtown Atlanta for $89 (plus taxes & fees) per night for a traditional room with two double beds. The rate also includes complementary Wi-Fi for guests. 

The hotel is located at 165 Courtland St. NE and is 0.8 miles from the Georgia World Congress Center, about an 18-minute walk or 10-minute drive. 

Use the following link to access this special rate and book your rooms. The room block is a courtesy hold, so we recommend booking your room as soon as you are able to confirm your attendance. 

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns at this time, 

The Solar District Cup organizers 

 

___________________________________________________________

New HeatSpring Trainings and Office Hours Sessions

Sent: Feb. 11, 2020, 1:03 p.m. MST
Hi Student District Cup finalists, 

As mentioned in the Solar District Cup Finalist Team Huddle, we have created two new trainings on HeatSpring: System Advisor Model (SAM) and REopt Lite. These additional trainings are intended to help you better understand the tools and how you can use them to improve your project ahead of the Final Deliverable Package due date.

We also have upcoming Office Hours sessions to accompany these two new trainings: 

Please register for each using the links above. Each session is a chance for students and faculty to ask questions and speak directly with experts in a live setting. We recommend reviewing each of the trainings on HeatSpring before attending Office Hours so you can come prepared with questions. If you are unable to attend the webinars live, a recording will be made available after. 

We look forward to answering your questions! 

The Solar District Cup organizers 

___________________________________________________________

Training & Office Hours for NREL’s REopt Lite Tool

Sent: Feb. 4, 2020, 9:48 a.m. MST

Hi Solar District Cup finalist teams, 

We’re pleased to share that NREL has created several training videos for Solar District Cup teams covering the Renewable Energy Integration and Optimization (REopt™) Lite web tool. These training videos are available as a YouTube playlist and as part of the HeatSpring Solar District Cup Training Course

REopt Lite helps users:

  • Evaluate the economic viability of grid-connected PV and battery storage at a site
  • Identify system sizes and battery dispatch strategies to minimize energy costs
  • Estimate how long a system can sustain critical load during a grid outage.

REopt Lite utilizes a mathematical optimization model to recommend the optimal size and dispatch for solar PV and energy storage and allows users to explore how PV and storage systems can increase a site’s resilience during a grid outage if the systems are configured to operate when disconnected from the grid. For an overview of what this tool can do, review this REopt Lite Fact Sheet.

Available free-of-charge, the tool offers a subset of features from NREL’s more comprehensive REopt Model. REopt Lite also offers an application programming interface (API), which recommends an optimal mix of renewable energy, conventional generation, and energy storage technologies to meet cost savings and energy performance goals. You can use the tool and review publicly available resources on the REopt Lite website

We will also host an Office Hours session on Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 12-1 p.m. ET with technical experts from NREL who lead the REopt Lite development team. They will be available to answer questions related to the tool. Register here for the REopt Lite Office Hours session.

Please reach out to the Solar District Cup organizers if you have questions. Thanks!

Joe Simon

___________________________________________________________

Finalist Team Resources Available

Sent: Feb. 4, 2020, 7:49 a.m. MST

Hi Solar District Cup finalist teams, 

As mentioned on the Finalist Team Huddle webinar, we’ve released an updated version of the Rules and have developed some communication materials to help promote your involvement in the Solar District Cup. Under the HeroX Resources tab, you will find the following: 

We want to highlight that self-promotion and media outreach are great ways to share your story with potential employers and add credibility to your experience in this competition. These documents have talking points, branding guidelines, and media best practices, which we encourage you to use when pitching your story and participation in the Solar District Cup.

Additionally, on the HeatSpring Solar District Cup course (still available for students to join for free at any time), you will find the following: 

Please reach out to the Solar District Cup organizers if you have questions. Thanks!

Joe Simon

___________________________________________________________

Join the All Finalist Team Huddle Webinar on 1/29

Sent: Jan. 28, 2020, 8:34 a.m. MST

Hi Solar District Cup finalists, 

This is a reminder to register for the Solar District Cup Finalist Team Huddle webinar. The webinar will take place tomorrow, Jan. 29, from 12-1 p.m. EST. During this webinar, we’ll answer questions and discuss: 

  • Revised Rules
  • What you need to work on for your Final Deliverable Package
  • General feedback on your Progress Deliverable Packages
  • Tips for promoting your team’s success
  • Planning for your attendance to present to the Solar District Cup 2020 judges at the Solar and Energy Storage Southeast conference in Atlanta on April 19-20.

We highly recommend at least one person from your team attends this webinar to learn and ask questions. For those unable to attend or who need a refresh following attendance, a recording will be made available on HeatSpring. 

Register here for the Solar District Cup Finalist Team Huddle. We hope to see you there! 

 

The Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

Join the All Finalist Team Huddle Webinar on 1/29

Sent: Jan. 16, 2020, 12:36 p.m. MST

Hi Solar District Cup finalists!

We hope your semester is off to a good start! Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to focus on next steps in the competition. 

The Solar District Cup organizers are hosting a Finalist Team Huddle webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 29 from 12-1 p.m. EST. During this webinar, we’ll answer questions and discuss: 

  • Minor Revisions to the Rules
  • What you need to work on for your Final Deliverable Package
  • General feedback on Progress Deliverable Packages
  • Tips for promoting your team’s success
  • Planning for your attendance to present to the Solar District Cup 2020 judges at the Solar and Energy Storage Southeast conference in Atlanta on April 19-20.

We highly recommend at least one person from your team attends this webinar to learn and ask questions. For those unable to attend or who need a refresh following attendance, a recording will be made available on HeatSpring. 

Register here for the Solar District Cup Finalist Team Huddle. We hope to see you there! 

 

The Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

Finalist Announcement Coming Dec. 12

Sent: Dec. 4, 2019, 1:18 p.m. MST

Hi Solar District Cup participants,

Thank you to everyone who submitted a Progress Deliverable Package on Nov. 21!

The Solar District Cup organizers are reviewing all submissions to ensure they meet the Progress Deliverable Package Requirements, as outlined in the Rules. Those teams announced as finalists will continue competing in the Solar District Cup 2020. Once finalists are announced, teams will start working on their solar + storage projects and start competing against others within their divisions. 

Finalists will be announced on the Solar District Cup landing page as well as HeroX on Dec. 12, so stay tuned!

Thanks,

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

Upcoming Progress Deadline & OpenDSS Guidance

Sent: Nov. 21, 2019, 11:19 a.m. MST

Hello Solar District Cup teams,

 

Today’s the day—Progress Deliverable Packages are due! We can’t wait to see the progress you’ve made so far in the Solar District Cup.

 

As teams are working feverishly toward the upcoming 5 p.m. EST deadline, we are hearing that several teams are experiencing issues with their OpenDSS models.

 

For this progress submission, please simply submit what you have in its current state. You can use the “2.A. Distribution System Impact Analysis – Approach to Power Flow Model” document to describe the work you’ve done, some of the issues you’ve experienced, and the current state of the model. In “2.B. Distribution System Impact Analysis – Power Flow Model,” submit the OpenDSS file in its as-is state.

 

The organizers will review all entries and if we identify any common issues or trends, we will work to provide more extensive or targeted training to help teams succeed in the coming weeks and months. As this is the inaugural competition, we will be learning from your submissions in parallel to our review of them.

 

For this Progress Deliverable Package, do your best to describe your system and work to-date, but know that the organizers do expect some elements to be works-in-progress. Don’t worry if your OpenDSS model or other elements has flaws—we simply want to see that you are making sufficient progress.

 

The organizers are prepared to review your submissions against the Evaluation Criteria listed in the Rules for the determination of finalist teams. Teams do not compete against each other for finalist designation.

 

Thank you, we look forward to seeing your submissions!

 

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

www.herox.com/solardistrictcup

___________________________________________________________

Final Tips & Advice for Nov. 21 Progress Package

Sent: Nov. 19, 2019, 10:31 a.m. MST

Hi Solar District Cup participants, 

This is your friendly reminder that Progress Deliverable Packages are due this Thursday, Nov. 21, at 5:00 p.m. EST, in accordance with the Solar District Cup timeline on HeroX. Please make sure you start your submission early to get everything uploaded and submitted through HeroX before the deadline. 

The Solar District Cup Rules outline the exact requirements for this submission, with a summary of "What to Submit" provided on pages 5 and 6, and detailed requirements in checklist-form provided in Appendix C starting on page 16. Please be prepared to submit the following: 

1.A. Conceptual System Design – Layout and Specifications in PDF format. 

1.B. Conceptual System Design – Energy Production in an Excel-compatible format (multiple sheets allowed)

2.A. Distribution System Impact Analysis – Approach to Power Flow Model in PDF format. 

2.B. Distribution System Impact Analysis – Power Flow Model submitted as a ZIP archive of your OpenDSS model, including profiles

3.A. Financial Analysis – submitted in Excel-compatible format

4.A. Development Plan – Building and Site Plan in PDF format

4.B. Development Plan – Construction Plan in PDF format 

As outlined in the notification sent Nov. 12 titled, “Preparing for the Progress Deliverable Package, the purpose of this deliverable is to show that your team has made progress in the competition. A final design or equal levels of completion across each element of the submission package is not expected. The organizers will review all elements for identification of our finalist teams. 

Remember that per the Rules, "teams advance as finalists if the reviewers agree (on average) with the evaluation statements more than they disagree with the statements. Teams do not compete against each other to become finalists." Teams are encouraged to review the Evaluation Statements on Page 6 and ask themselves if their submission meets the each Evaluation Statement for at least one PV system within the district.

When your files are ready for submission, here are the steps one person on your team will have to take: 

Start by going to the Solar District Cup HeroX page.

  1. Click the orange “BEGIN ENTRY” button for the Progress submission at the top of the home page.
  2. Ensure that “Submit as a team” is checked at the top of the page.
  3. Title your project with the name of your collegiate institution and assigned district use case (e.g., “University of Wyoming – Crystal Parks District Use Case”).
  4. Optionally, give your project a short description – note that this is not part of the evaluation criteria for the Progress Deliverable Package.
  5. Optionally, upload an image of your team or that represents your project – note that this is not part of the evaluation criteria for the Progress Deliverable Package.
  6. Upload the required files as listed above and in the Rules.
  7. Answer the “Non-Judged Questions on Team Makeup” – note that these are not part of the evaluation criteria for the Progress Deliverable Package.
  8. Click “Save & Preview”.
  9. Review your entry and press “Submit Final Entry” – note that up until the deadline, you can still choose “Return to Editing” and make further refinements.

Again, we highly recommend you do not wait until the last minute to submit your Progress Deliverable Package. This will give your team time to overcome slow upload speeds or surprise issues with your files. 

If you have questions regarding this process or requirements, please contact the Solar District Cup organizers

Joe & the Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

Solar District Cup: Final Office Hours This Year

Sent: Nov. 14, 2019, 9:15 a.m. MST

Hello Solar District Cup participants,

Do you have questions relating to the solar industry, your upcoming Progress Deliverable Package, or the Solar District Cup in general?

Attend the final Solar District Cup Office Hours session with HeatSpring and the Solar District Cup organizers FRIDAY Nov. 15 from 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST. We’ll be joined by seasoned industry professionals and longtime Solar Executive MBA Training Instructors Keith Cronin and Chris Lord, as well as the Solar District Cup organizers!

As the last Office Hours session of 2019, this is your chance to ask questions live on the HeatSpring training course, the Solar Executive MBA Training content, the Progress Deliverable Package, or anything else related to the Solar District Cup.

Chris and Keith will be available to answer questions you have about the solar industry or any of the Solar Executive MBA Training content available on HeatSpring. This is a great opportunity to learn from industry experts firsthand. We highly recommend joining the webinar, although it is not required.

  • Chris Lord is the managing director of CapIron, Inc., a firm focused on helping clients plan, structure, and close financings involving renewable energy projects, including distributed generation and utility-scale projects. Lord graduated from Cornell Law School and practiced corporate law at firms and in-house for over 25 years. He has been general counsel of a publicly traded technology firm and energy finance firm, as well as counsel to energy development projects, utility financings, energy efficiency securitizations, and renewable energy transactions.
  • Keith Cronin has helped solar companies achieve their goals through his perspective, recruiting, coaching sessions, and products. After his company was acquired by SunEdison, he decided to help people and serve others in Hawaii and across the globe. After his tenure with SunEdison, he founded SunHedge, which assists small-to-medium sized businesses increase profitability by developing systems and streamlining the workflow from sales to operations.

Please register for the Nov. 15 Office Hours to occur 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. EST ahead of time and come prepared with questions. If you are unable to attend the webinar live, a recording will be available afterwards. Recordings of all Office Hours are available under Module 2 on HeatSpring.

We look forward to answering your questions!

The Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

Preparing for the Progress Deliverable Package

Sent: Nov. 12, 2019, 5:30 p.m. MST

Hi Solar District Cup participants, 

We are quickly approaching the deadline for submission of your Progress Deliverable Package. To be identified as a finalist and remain in the competition, your team must submit your Progress Deliverable Package by completing a “Progress” entry on HeroX by Thursday, Nov. 21 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Remember that the purpose of this deliverable is to show that your team has made progress in the competition. You are not competing against other teams within your division at this time, so please focus on showing the work you’ve done so far in the competition. As outlined in the Rules, every team that completes the Progress Deliverable Package and successfully submits the “Progress” entry on HeroX will advance as a finalist if the reviewers find that the team met the evaluation statements outlined in Table 1 of the Rules. 

We expect that your designs will change after this submission, becoming more complete and better optimized. The organizers are not expecting fully complete or perfect designs, but rather, submissions that show progress towards a successful April submittal by your team.

Here’s what you need to prepare for your Progress Deliverable Package before submitting the “Progress” entry on HeroX: 

  1. Conceptual system design
    1. Layout and specifications
    2. Energy production
  2. Distribution system impact analysis
    1. Approach to power flow model
    2. Power Flow Model
  3. Financial analysis
  4. Development plan
    1. Building and site plan
    2. Construction plan

See Appendix B on page 15 in the Rules to review the format and content requirements for your Progress Deliverable Package. 

Please contact the with questions. Finalist teams will be announced on HeroX by Dec. 12. 

Good luck!

The Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

Register & Attend Our Office Hours This Week!

Sent: Nov. 4, 2019, 7:52 a.m. MST

Hello Solar District Cup participants, 

 

Don’t forget to register for this week’s Solar District Cup Office Hours. We had great participation in our sessions last week and hope this week is similar. These sessions are available so teams can ask questions about the Rules as well as various lessons and materials from the Training Course on HeatSpring. Each hour-long session will focus on a different topic and is a chance for students and advisors to ask questions and speak directly with experts in a live setting. 

 

The schedule for this week’s Solar District Cup Office Hours: 

Please register ahead of time using the registration links above and come prepared with questions. We highly recommend at least one team member attends all Office Hours, although it is not mandatory. If you are unable to attend these webinars live, recordings will be available afterward on the HeatSpring platform. Recordings of all Office Hours to-date have been uploaded to Heatspring Module 2.

 

We look forward to answering your questions!

 

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

___________________________________________________________

Building Plans for the Architecture Building

Sent: Nov. 1, 2019, 8:13 a.m. MDT , Group: District: BSU Note: this was sent only to those individuals associated with teams assigned the Ball State University District Use Case. Accordingly, the detailed username and password has been redacted from this post, but if your team is assigned Ball State and you need help accessing the data room, reach out to solardistrictcup@nrel.gov. 

 

Hello Ball State Division,

It has been brought to our attention that teams are finding it difficult to complete the design of a solar solution for the Architecture Building without more detailed plans, measurements, schematics, etc. for the curtain wall. Accordingly, we have updated the data room to include a file packet with the following materials:

  • Floor plans (.pdf)
  • Pictures of the original design blueprints (note: these are JPG files, but should be high enough resolution such that they will still be legible at close zoom)
  • A 2003 study of the building façade and solar chimney mechanism, which includes measurements and information on the curtain wall’s design intent.

Remember, you can access the data room at: 

Website: ***

Username: ***

Password: ***

As always, please let us know if you have any questions by emailing solardistrictcup@nrel.gov. Happy designing!

 

Regards,

The Solar District Cup Organizers

___________________________________________________________

Tomorrow: Q&A w/ Solar Professionals & Instructors

Sent: Oct. 31, 2019, 3:23 p.m. MDT

Hello Solar District Cup participants,

Do you have questions relating to the solar industry, potential career paths, development plans, economic modeling, RFPs, or PPAs?

Attend the Solar District Cup Office Hours: HeatSpring FRIDAY Nov. 1  from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT. We’ll be joined by seasoned industry professionals and longtime Solar Executive MBA Training Instructors Keith Cronin and Chris Lord!

Chris and Keith will be available to answer questions you have about the solar industry or any of the Solar Executive MBA Training content available on HeatSpring. This is a great opportunity to learn from industry experts firsthand. We highly recommend joining the webinar, although it is not required.

  • Chris Lord is the managing director of CapIron, Inc., a firm focused on helping clients plan, structure, and close financings involving renewable energy projects, including distributed generation and utility-scale projects. Lord graduated from Cornell Law School and practiced corporate law at firms and in-house for over 25 years. He has been general counsel of a publicly traded technology firm and energy finance firm, as well as counsel to energy development projects, utility financings, energy efficiency securitizations, and renewable energy transactions.
  • Keith Cronin has helped solar companies achieve their goals through his perspective, recruiting, coaching sessions, and products. After his company was acquired by SunEdison, he decided to help people and serve others in Hawaii and across the globe. After his tenure with SunEdison, he founded SunHedge, which assists small-to-medium sized businesses increase profitability by developing systems and streamlining the workflow from sales to operations.

Please register for the HeatSpring Office Hours ahead of time and come prepared with questions. If you are unable to attend tomorrow’s webinar live, a recording will be available afterwards. Recordings of this week’s Office Hours on Aurora, OpenDSS, and Conceptual System Design have been posted to Heatspring under Module 2.

 

We look forward to answering your questions!

 

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

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Register and Attend This Week’s Office Hours!

Sent: Oct. 28, 2019, 10:51 a.m. MDT

Hello Solar District Cup participants, 

Don’t forget to register for this week’s Solar District Cup Office Hours. These sessions are available so teams can ask questions about the Rules as well as various lessons and materials from the Training Course on HeatSpring. Each hour-long session will focus on a different topic and is a chance for students and advisors to ask questions and speak directly with experts in a live setting. 

The schedule for this week’s Solar District Cup Office Hours: 

Please register ahead of time using the registration links above and come prepared with questions. We highly recommend at least one team member attends all Office Hours, although it is not mandatory. If you are unable to attend these webinars live, recordings will be available afterward on the HeroX platform. 

We look forward to answering your questions!

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

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Getting Started in Aurora: Free Accounts Created

Sent: Oct. 23, 2019, 5:45 p.m. MDT

Hello Solar District Cup participants,

As previously detailed, Aurora Solar Inc. has generously agreed to provide each team with free access to their Aurora software for Solar District Cup conceptual system design! 

At this time, each team’s “captain,” as listed on HeroX or the designated alternate email address, should have received an email from hello(at)aurorasolar.com with the subject, “You’ve Been Invited to Aurora!” Please check with your teammates to make sure your designated team member received this email. 

The email from hello(at)aurorasolar.com contains a direct link to sign in and create a new password. Make sure you pick a password that can be remembered and used by your entire team. Store your password safely—it’s a pain to reset it!

To help you get started, Aurora Solar has created a “Getting Started in Aurora” guide for each team, which is now available in Module 2 of the Solar District Cup HeatSpring Training Course. Remember that team members may use their Aurora software access on one device at a time using this single email address and associated shared password. 

Please continue to learn from these additional informational resources:

  1. A recording of the software demo webinar as well as the introduction slides are available. Visit the Solar District Cup HeatSpring Training Course home page to access these and other training videos.
  2. The online Aurora Help Center – But don’t forget, send any questions to solardistrictcup@nrel.gov!
  3. The Solar District Cup Office Hours for Aurora Solar:

We encourage you to play around in the software to get familiar and create a project or two in your district at your earliest opportunity. This will help your team verify account access and identify where you have questions to ask during the Office Hours listed above.

Please direct all Solar District Cup questions regarding Aurora use to  or present them during either Office Hours session.

Thank you,

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

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Office Hours with Solar Experts

Sent: Oct. 23, 2019, 9:06 a.m. MDT

Hello Solar District Cup participants, 

We hope you’re learning a lot as you dig into the Rules, the District Use Cases and their associated data, and the Solar District Cup Training Course on HeatSpring. As we expect many of you to have questions as you engage with this material, we will be hosting optional Office Hours in the form of webinars for all participants. Each hour-long session will focus on a different topic and are a chance for students and advisors to ask questions and speak directly with experts in a live setting. 

Over the next two weeks, we will host eight separate Office Hours sessions. You may attend one, some, or all of the Office Hours. Attendance is not required for any of the sessions. 

The schedule for Solar District Cup Office Hours:

Please register ahead of time using the corresponding registration links above and come prepared with questions and discussion topics. We are looking forward to answering your questions!

The Solar District Cup organizers

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Your Team’s Free Aurora Solar Account

Sent: Oct. 17, 2019, 3:23 p.m. MDT

Hello Solar District Cup participants,

We are grateful that Aurora Solar, Inc. has generously agreed to provide each team with free access to their Aurora software for Solar District Cup conceptual system design! Each team will be provided one account per team, access to hosted Office Hours, and several informational resources.

The Organizers will provide Aurora Solar one email address per team so that accounts can be created. The email address that the organizers will provide will be that associated with your team captain on HeroX, unless we hear from you otherwise. If you would prefer an email address different than that associated with your team captain’s HeroX account to be used for your team’s Aurora software access, please send a message with the alternate email address, your collegiate institution, and your assigned district use case to solardistrictcup@nrel.gov by 11:59 pm PT on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. 

Team members may use their Aurora Solar software access with one device at a time using this single email address and associated shared password. 

In addition to the Aurora Solar modeling software access, please learn from these additional informational resources:

  1. A recording of the software demo webinar as well as the introduction slides are available as part of Module 2 on the HeatSpring course. Visit the Solar District Cup Heatspring course page to create an account access to view these and other training videos
  2. A “Getting Started with Aurora Solar” instruction sheet will be shared the week of October 21.
  3. The online Aurora Help Center.
  4. The Solar District Cup “Office Hours” for Aurora Solar:

Please direct all Solar District Cup questions regarding Aurora use to or present them during either Office Hours session. Do not contact their Customer Support Team, they will politely direct you to the Office Hours. While waiting for this access, teams should not sign up for their software through the sales team at Aurora as this can negatively affect their sales quotas.

 

Thank you,

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

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Important Information Regarding Aurora Solar

Sent: Oct. 16, 2019, 12:33 p.m. MDT

Hello Solar District Cup participants,

We are grateful that Aurora Solar, Inc. has generously agreed to provide each team with free access to their Aurora software for Solar District Cup conceptual system design! Each team will be provided one account per team, access to hosted Office Hours, and several informational resources.

At this time, it is critical that teams do not sign up for their software through the sales team. Unfortunately, this can negatively affect their salespeople’s quotas. 

We’re working to provide Aurora Solar a list of one email address per team so that an account can be created for you. The email address that the organizers will provide will be that associated with your team captain on HeroX, unless we hear from you otherwise. If you would prefer an email address different than that associated with your team captain’s HeroX account to be used for your team’s Aurora software access, please send a message with the alternate email address, your collegiate institution, and your assigned district use case to solardistrictcup@nrel.gov by 11:59 pm PT on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. We will then utilize that list to have accounts created. 

Please direct all Solar District Cup questions regarding Aurora use to solardistrictcup@nrel.gov or present them during upcoming Office Hours sessions. Do not contact their Customer Support Team, they will politely direct you to the Office Hours. 

 

Thank you,

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

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Free Webinars and Training Available on Heatspring

Sent: Oct. 14, 2019, 4:22 p.m. MDT

Teams, 

We are pleased to provide free access to over 9 hours of video training and related resources to every team member as part of your participation in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition. 

The Solar District Cup organizers have created several competition-specific training videos, and, through a partnership with HeatSpring instructors Keith Cronin and Chris Lord, are pleased to have several training modules from the Solar Executive MBA available. 

Please note that at least three student members per team are required to watch the Solar District Cup Specific Training videos by the deadline for your Final Deliverable Package.

To access the content, visit the Solar District Cup HeatSpring Course page and create a free account. Do not share this link with others outside your team as this content is for Solar District Cup participants only. 

Throughout the competition, we will provide opportunities to ask questions and receive answers. We have dedicated "office hours" with Chris Lord and Keith Cronin who are the instructors for the Heatspring Solar Executive MBA modules, with staff from Aurora Solar, and with several experts from NREL. The schedule for these "office hours" will be shared in a separate notification. 

Please contact us at with any questions or concerns. 

Thank you, 

Joe and the Solar District Cup organizers

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Register & Attend the Aurora Solar Demo Webinar

Sent: Oct. 14, 2019, 12:06 p.m. MDT

Hello Solar District Cup participants, 

We encourage you to join the Solar District Cup organizers and Aurora Solar tomorrow, Tuesday Oct. 15, for an Aurora Solar Demo Webinar. The webinar will take place from 2-3:30 p.m. ET and will show Solar District Cup participants how you can use Aurora Solar software for conceptual system design. We will also answer questions related to the software. If you aren’t able to attend the live webinar, a recording will be made available. Instructions for creating your team's free Aurora Solar account will be provided following this webinar.

This webinar will be hosted on Zoom. The Zoom web browser “client for meetings” will download automatically when you start or join your first Zoom meeting and is also available for manual download here

Register now to join us at tomorrow’s webinar!

The Solar District Cup organizers

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Workshop Slides, Training, & Aurora Solar Webinar

Sent: Sept. 19, 2019, 3:57 p.m. MDT

Hello, 

We hope you are eager to get started competing in the Solar District Cup! As previously announced, there are 61 teams from 52 collegiate institutions. We are thrilled to see so many teams participating!

For those of you who were unable to attend the Warmup Workshop on Sept. 23 at the Solar Power International conference in Salt Lake City, or for those who would like a reminder of the information that was shared, we’ve provided a PDF version of the presentation slides, available in the Resources section on the HeroX platform.

The Solar District Cup organizers have secured a partnership with HeatSpring to offer free training courses on solar and district energy system design and analysis for students and faculty. This includes custom content created by the Solar District Cup organizers and NREL technical experts as well as instructors from the HeatSpring Solar Executive MBA program. Access to the training courses will be made available by Oct. 14. A free registration link will be sent out to all team members and advisors via HeroX. You are welcome and encouraged to begin your designs prior to viewing these materials; however, they are offered as an additional resource to help teams succeed.

On Sept. 17, we sent a notification via HeroX that indicated each team’s district use case assignment and login access to the district use case profile and associated data. It has come to our attention that if your team’s “register” entry was submitted by an individual instead of on behalf of your team, some team members may not have received this notification. We’ve resent this information by email to all team members we identified – please let us know (at ) if you are still unsure about your district use case assignment or the process for accessing data.

Finally, in addition to the free software account Aurora Solar is providing to each team, they will be hosting a live webinar, including time for questions, on Tuesday, Oct. 15, from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. A link to register and view will be provided at a later date, but please reserve this time on your calendar. If you’re unable to attend at the time of the webinar, a recording will be made available afterward via HeatSpring.

Please let us know if you have any questions!

Thanks,

Joe Simon and the Solar District Cup organizers

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Warmup Workshop Agenda, Solar Power International

Sent: Sept. 19, 2019, 3:57 p.m. MDT

For those of you who are able to join us, we hope you are as excited as we are for the upcoming Solar District Cup Warmup Workshop at Solar Power International (SPI)! The workshop will take place on Monday, Sept. 23, from 8:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. in room 254C of the Salt Palace Convention Center, in Salt Lake City, Utah. We expect over a dozen teams to be represented at the workshop, from the 61 total that are participating, allowing you to meet some of your competitors. For those unable to attend, we will make the content from these sessions available on HeroX after the Workshop. 

 

You can find the Warmup Workshop agenda in the Resources section on HeroX. Please bring your school I.D. and plan extra time to arrive at the convention center to pick up your badge before the 8:30 a.m. Workshop start time. Conference badges are required for entry to the Workshop. 

 

Additionally, we will conduct optional 15-minute baseline knowledge interviews with students following the Workshop. The purpose of these interviews is to help the organizers understand the competing team makeup, current knowledge of the solar and energy industries, and what you’re hoping to get out of the competition. This information will not impact any competition scoring but will help the organizers gauge the success of the program over time and improve the student experience. Students registered for the conference should sign up for a 15-minute time slot at their earliest convenience.

 

Finally, attendees are encouraged to attend the Solar Power International First-Time Attendee Roadmap from 3:00-4:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, in room 250E. The SPI organizers will explain how to make the most of your time at SPI, setting you up for successful learning and networking. Your free conference registration also enables you access to the Technical Symposium and the entire expo hall. Make sure you review the detailed schedule of SPI activities in advance!

 

Please let us know if you have any questions before the Warmup Workshop. We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

Thanks, 

 

Joe Simon and the Solar District Cup Organizers

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Your Team's Division & Use Case Profile!

Sent: Sept. 17, 2019, 12:41 p.m. MDT - Crystal Parks

Sent: Sept. 17, 2019, 12:40 p.m. MDT - New Mexico State University Use Case

Sent: Sept. 17, 2019, 12:39 p.m. MDT - Ball State University

NOTE: To help protect the confidentiality of each district use case's data, we've removed the specific access information from this historical record. If you need to receive this information, send an email to solardistrictcup@nrel.gov indicating your school and team and we'll help you access the data. 

Congratulations, you have been assigned to the “***” Division of the Solar District Cup 2020. 

We are announcing the participating collegiate institutions by Sept. 19 on our official informational web page

Your team can now begin designing your solution for this district use case. The strongest team concepts are those that provide the highest offset of annual energy and power and illustrate financial viability through a techno-economic analysis. 

Access the District Use Case Profile and associated data files using the following website, username and password. Please do not share this information outside your team members. 

Website ***

Username: ***

Password: ***

Remember, your first step towards success is to view the Kick-off Webinar and read the Rules

In the near future we will release several trainings and notify you of the schedule for organizer office hours. We will also provide each team with one free Aurora Solar account to assist with system design. Information on how to access will be provided soon, please do not contact Aurora Solar directly. 

Finally, your team’s primary team contact(s) should have received an email from with an official welcome and instructions on how to register free of charge for Solar Power International and our Warmup Workshop. If you plan to join us, please register using code “STUSPI19SDC” as soon as possible. 

Thanks again for registering a team for the Solar District Cup 2020. Let the competition begin!

The Solar District Cup Organizers

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Ready, Set, Go!

Sent: Sept. 13, 2019, 3:11 p.m. MDT

Thanks for submitting your team “register” entries, now it’s time to view the Kick-off Webinar and read the Rules! We are blown away by the high volume of teams that will be participating in the inaugural Solar District Cup! We will announce a full list of participating collegiate institutions by Sept. 19 on our official informational web page

Registration to compete in the Solar District Cup 2020 is now closed to new teams. However, new team members can be added to an existing team at any time. 

Each team’s primary contact(s) should have received a welcome email from . Review the email to find the code for free conference registration and plan to attend our optional Warmup Workshop on Sept. 23 at Solar Power International.

Watch for a message coming next week from the organizers with your team’s Division and District Use Case Assignment. We are also excited to share that Aurora Solar will be providing each team with a free account to assist with your system design. Information on how to access will be provided by the organizers soon, please do not contact Aurora Solar directly. 

Thanks again to all registered teams. Let the competition begin!

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Submit Your "Register" Entry Now!

Sent: Sept. 12, 2019, 2:48 p.m. MDT

Hello,

You are receiving this message as while you've signed up on HeroX, you're not currently associated with any team's "register" entry. 

To be accepted as part of the competition, each team must submit a “register” entry by 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 12. Just visit www.herox.com/solardistrictcup and then click the “Begin Entry” button under “Register”. We ask only a few questions and it should take less than 5 minutes to complete. You can still add team members after the 12th.

This notification is just a friendly reminder that even though you’ve personally created an account on HeroX, one team member must submit a “register” entry on HeroX by Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. ET. for your team to be eligible to compete!

Thanks,

 

Joe

solardistrictcup@nrel.gov

303-886-8213

www.herox.com/solardistrictcup

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