American-Made Challenges


Solar Forecasting Prize

Enabling solar industry stakeholders with state-of-the-art solar forecasting capabilities

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed


The American-Made Solar Forecasting Prize is designed to better enable solar industry stakeholders with state-of-the-art solar forecasting capabilities. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, this prize aims to increase the use of the Solar Forecast Arbiter, an open platform developed by the University of Arizona, to allow for the transparent, rigorous, and consistent analysis and evaluation of solar forecasts.

Increasing Awareness of State-of-the-Art Solar Forecasting

Probabilistic forecasts are being recognized as a critical tool for cost-effective reserve allocation and unit scheduling. Considering a future with high-penetration weather-bound renewable energy generation is becoming increasingly important. But today, deployment and integration of these forecasts into energy management systems has not been widely adopted. 

Additionally, independent system operators agree that solar forecasting is an important part of system operations, and forecasting becomes even more important as the fraction of variable weather-dependent generation increases.


The Solar Forecasting Prize aims to address this by:

  • Increasing stakeholder awareness of the state of the art in solar forecasting.
  • Incentivizing the participation of a broad range of competitors from the solar forecasting industry and research and development space.
  • Growing industry knowledge of the Solar Forecast Arbiter (SFA) platform and its potential.
  • Promoting the adoption of uniform and transparent metrics and specifications for solar forecasts using SFA (or similar platforms) by forecast end-users.
  • Identifying algorithms that perform better than a baseline probabilistic forecast.

Earn Cash Prizes for Successful Solar Forecasting

Up to five teams will win $50,000 each in cash prizes for showcasing the best performing algorithm and the strongest commercialization plan. 

Five runner-up teams will also have the chance to earn $25,000 in cash prizes.

What Is the Solar Forecast Arbiter? 

The Solar Forecast Arbiter (SFA) is an open forecasting platform developed by the University of Arizona. It allows for the transparent, rigorous, and consistent analysis and evaluation of solar forecasts by end-users. 


Solar Forecasting Site List

More information regarding the anticipated site list can be found under the Resources tab: 




Kona, Hawaii


Seattle, Washington


Hanford, California


Salt Lake City, Utah


Table Mountain Boulder, Colorado


Goodwin Creek, Mississippi


Bondville, Illinois


Titusville, Florida


Sterling, Virginia


Millbrook, New York



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

If you want to subscribe to updates on the prize or have any questions, you may use the contact feature on the HeroX platform, or message us directly.



Challenge Updates

ICYMI: Transform Digital Systems with New American-Made Prize

Nov. 3, 2022, 3:52 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge


The $1.1-million Digitizing Utilities Prize—sponsored by U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity—invites experts in data analytics and software development to transform digital systems in the energy sector through data processing, quality assurance, storage, and deletion.

In Phase 1, competitors will work directly alongside utility partners to propose a solution that improves how the energy industry manages, stores, and processes large data sets. Up to nine winners of Phase 1 will receive a cash prize of $75,000.

 In addition, mark your calendars for Wednesday, November 15 at 12 p.m. MT. Register now to learn more about the prize timeline and deliverables. A recording of the webinar will be available after the event.

If you’re interested in transforming digital systems in the energy sector, we encourage you to compete in the Digitizing Utilities Prize. The deadline to enter is Thursday, January 26, 2023. Good luck!

Winner and Runner-Up Results Are Here!

March 25, 2022, 2:13 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Congratulations to the Solar Forecasting Prize winners and runners-up, announced by the Tassos Golnas, Solar Forecasting Prize Lead in the Solar Energy Technologies Office, during the CMU Energy Week Virtual Networking Mixer!

The five winners and two runners-up were selected based on their performance in the forecast evaluation period as well as the quality of their commercialization plans, which proposed innovative solutions for deployment. Each winner was awarded $50,000 in cash prizes, while runners-up earned $25,000 each.

Please join us in congratulating the following winners and runners-up: 

Solar Forecasting Prize Winners 

  • Leaptran - San Antonio, TX 
    Integrated Solar Forecasting Solutions  
    This team used crowd-sourced weather data and algorithms, leveraging site-specific data fusion, to achieve intra-day and days-ahead solar forecasting. This model offered a >50% improvement of days-ahead, intra-hour, and intra-day solar forecasting accuracy by integrating asset-level data.
  • Nimbus AI - Honolulu, Hawaii 
    Fast Solar Forecasting with Machine Learning 
    This team developed a fast and inexpensive system for geographically flexible, hyper-local day-ahead probabilistic solar forecasting. The team combined historical ground- and satellite-based instrument data with physics-based numerical weather prediction (NWP) techniques to produce probabilistic forecasts.
  • Northview Weather - Danville, VT 
    Determining Who Wins the Cumulus vs. Stratus Battle  
    This team developed a solar forecasting method that uses a mesoscale weather forecast model to produce a dynamically based spread of probabilistic solar power forecast information. Probabilistic information is also tuned blending statistical information and machine learning of historic sky cover observations.
  • UM (University of Michigan) CLaSP - Ann Arbor, MI 
    A Novel Hybrid Approach for Solar Forecasting  
    This team developed a hybrid solar forecasting method using ground horizontal irradiance based on a recursive neural network (RNN), trained with past observations and a weather-regime-dependent empirical bias correction scheme. The team based this scheme on the RNN output and the multi-day weather forecast made from NWP.
  • WenYuan Tang - Apex, North Carolina 
    A Hybrid Approach to Probabilistic Forecasting  
    This team developed a simple (low-data-cost and low-computational-cost) yet effective solar forecasting method that includes learning from many base models, as well as physical and statistical models, to provide a comprehensive tool for both forecasting and grid optimization. This team provided a simple yet effective model that is easy to interpret, train, validate, and deploy, thus overcoming the barriers of experimentation and adoption by utilities and other end users.

 Solar Forecasting Prize Runners-up: 

  • Matt Motoki - Aiea, Hawaii 
    This team developed an advanced machine learning technique for probabilistic forecasting that utilizes custom deep neural networks to directly minimize the Continuous Ranked Probability Score (CRPS) loss with no post-processing calibration needed. This method allowed for greater accuracy and its lightweight architecture allows it to run faster than NWP ensembles and other machine learning approaches.
  • Syracuse University Team - Syracuse, NY 
    Weather Adaptive Probabilistic Solar Forecast  
    This team developed a weather-adaptive probabilistic day-ahead solar forecast methodology that leverages innovations in machine learning and statistics. This model could adapt to different weather patterns for an accurate forecast under varying weather conditions.

Congratulations to these teams for their outstanding work in the Solar Forecasting Prize! 

Don’t Forget to Register to Hear Who Wins the Solar Forecasting Prize!

March 25, 2022, 8:15 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Register for the CMU Energy Week Virtual Networking Mixer, starting today at 3:30 p.m. ET, to hear who wins the Solar Forecasting Prize!

The event kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET with a free networking session for energy industry stakeholders. The mixer is open to anyone looking to forge connections with top innovators, organizations, students, and entrepreneurs in the energy industry. Whether or not you are a Solar Forecasting Prize competitor, you’re invited to join this networking event.

The event will wrap up with the announcement of the Solar Forecasting Prize winners and runners-up. RSVP now for the Virtual Networking Mixer!

Announcing Results THIS Friday!

March 22, 2022, 9:43 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Be the first to hear who the winners and runners-up are for Solar Forecasting Prize by registering for the CMU Energy Week Virtual Networking Mixer on Friday, March 25 from 3:30–5 p.m. ET

After four weeks of submitting their solar forecasts across 10 locations in the United States and having their commercialization plans reviewed by expert judges, competitors will finally find out who earns up to $50,000 in cash prizes. The work performed by competitors is helping increase stakeholder awareness of the state-of-the-art in solar forecasting and boosting industry knowledge of the Solar Forecast Arbiter platform, which provides transparent and impartial evaluations of solar forecasts for the broader industry.

Tune in this Friday, March 25, for the Virtual Networking Mixer to connect with investors, academia, government, and more. The event is free and open to competitors and non-competitors alike. At the end of the event, the winners and runners-up will be announced. 

Don’t miss the exciting conclusion of the Solar Forecasting Prize. Join the CMU Energy Week Virtual Networking Mixer this Friday to find out who wins!

Winners and Runners-Up Announcement Next Week  - Register Today!

March 17, 2022, 3:31 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Teams submitted their final forecasts and commercialization plans! Now, their commercialization plans (focused on either the team’s product-to-market approach or their probabilistic forecasting accelerated market adoption plan) are under review by the Expert Reviewer panel. 

Solar Forecasting Prize winners will be announced on Friday, March 25, during the CMU Energy Week Virtual Network Mixer from 3:30–5 p.m. ET. Following the announcement, competitors are invited to stay for a networking session. The mixer is open to anyone looking to forge connections with top innovators, organizations, students, and entrepreneurs in the energy industry. 

Register for the Virtual Networking Mixer to be the first to hear about the winners!