American-Made Challenges


Solar Prize Round 1

The American-Made Solar Prize is a $3 million prize competition designed to accelerate and sustain American solar innovation.
$1,000,000 distributed equally with a range of $25,000 to $50,000 in cash per winner (see Rules)

Challenge Overview

This competition is closed to the general public, learn about out the competitors who are competing in the Set! and Go! Contests.

Interested in competing?  There is a new round of the competition open to the public, join the challenge.


Solar Prize Contests

Innovation happens when the right resources, people, and passion come together. With the Solar Prize, teams of creative individuals and entrepreneurs will advance conceptual solutions toward product realities with the support of a unique and powerful network and a chance to win up to $3 million in cash prizes.



A prize competition structured for success

The Solar Prize is an opportunity for anyone interested in accelerating ideas and solutions. The American-Made Network is designed to strengthen and scale the very best ideas and teams through three progressive prize competitions, the Ready! Set! Go! Contests. This network provides the tools and expertise to help projects succeed and is comprised of an unparalleled innovation system. These resources will provide technical insight, product validation, and strategic support to teams throughout the competition.


Competing in the prize is easy!

  1. Identify an important problem you want to solve (discover ideas through ideation on HeroX)
  2. Submit a 90-second video describing your challenge and proposed solution, team, and plan
  3. Answer a short, four-question narrative and make a slide about this problem or challenge
  4. Submit a two-page technical assistance request
  5. Update your videos and statements as you advance through the contests.


More than $3 million in incentives for innovation

The Ready! Set! Go! Contests will fast-track efforts to identify, develop, and test disruptive solutions to solar industry needs for a total of $3 million in cash prizes and up to $525,000 in vouchers which can be used at national laboratories and other voucher facilities to develop, test, and validate. Each stage will have a 90-day performance period when participants work to advance their solutions.


Ready!20 to 40$1,000,000 distributed equally with a range of $25,000 to $50,000 in cash per winner
Set!5 to 10$1,000,000 in cash and $375,000 in vouchers distributed within a range of $100,000 to $200,000 in cash and $37,500 to $75,000 in vouchers per winner
Go!2$500,000 in cash and up to $75,000 in vouchers per winner


The Ready! Set! and Go! Contests



It all starts with a big idea. You can enter the Ready! Contest with an idea from the ideation platform or an idea that’s all your own. Once a completed package has been submitted on HeroX, your video will be made public and you’ll become part of the Ready! Contest.


  • Ready! Contest
    90 days / 20-40 winners / up to $50,000 cash 
    Winners will be selected after identifying an impactful idea or solution addressing a critical need in the solar industry;


  • Set! Contest
    90 days / 5-10 winners / up to $200,000 prize and up to $75,000 in vouchers 
    Competitors will work to substantially advance their technology solution toward a viable and promising proof of concept.


  • Go! Contest
    90 days / 2 winners / $500,000 prize and up to $75,000 in vouchers 
    ​Competitors will work to substantially advance their solution from proof of concept to a refined prototype and find a partner to perform a pilot test of the prototype.


  • Demo Days
    Competitors in the Set! and Go! Contests pitch and demonstrate proof of concepts and prototypes to a judging panel and audience at two, live, in-person Demo Day events. Demo days are opportunities to meet competitors, connectors, power connectors, and other members of the American-Made Network. Demo Days culminate in the announcement of Set! and Go! prize winners.


Anyone can compete

Competitors are entrepreneurial individuals or teams, legally residing or based in the U.S., can compete including members of one or multiple organizations, students, university faculty members, small business owners, researchers, or anyone with the desire and drive to transform ideas into impactful realities.


Ready!, Set!, Go! Guidelines

The Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests will fast-track efforts to identify, develop, and test disruptive solutions to meet solar industry needs. Each stage will include a contest period when participants will work to rapidly advance their solutions. DOE invites anyone, individually or as a team, to compete to transform a conceptual solution into product reality.

Please visit the How to Compete in the American-Made Solar Prize page to view the full rules for American-Made Challenges Ideation and the American-Made Challenges Solar Prize.



The American-Made Solar Prize is a $3 million prize competition designed to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing through a series of contests and the development of a diverse and powerful support network that leverages national laboratories, energy incubators, and other resources across the country. The American-Made Solar Prize is directed and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. Learn more.


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Accept Challenge” button on this page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

Yes, however, the intent of the voucher funding is to encourage the development of new and productive relationships. If you win a Set! or a Go! Prize then you will not be able to use your voucher funding at your current organization. i.e. National lab researchers would need to utilize their voucher at a Lab that is not where they are, or recently  (4 months or less) were, employed.

 Yes, the intent of voucher funding is to encourage the development of new and productive relationships.

No, if you are a contest winner you are receiving the prize for meeting or exceeding the contest goals. 

It is up to the Competitor to identify a suitable partner to pilot test for their proposed solution. Judges will then assess the quality and feasibility of what is submitted.

The Ready! Contest Submission Template is under the resources tab.

But, to save you the trouble of navigating there, here is another direct link:

Ready! Contest Submission Template

We want to allow for the option that a competitor may significantly advance their solution and identify a pilot partner even if they did not win a Set! Prize. The teams that address the goals of the Go! Prize will win the Go! Prize.

Innovation is about making ideas happen. The American-Made Network will accelerate and sustain solar innovation through a diverse and powerful network that includes national laboratories, energy incubators, facilities, and other valuable industry partners from across the U.S. who will engage, connect, mentor, and boost the efforts of Solar Prize competitors.

See who is in the network.

Connectors are the core component of the American-Made Network and are organizations that seek to support the efforts of competitors in the Solar Prize. Use this link to explore the Network to find potential partners and develop relationships.

Power Connector organizations are a core group of Connectors that will work alongside NREL to implement parts of the program and secure additional resources and partners.

Discover who they are and how they will help innovators succeed.

The success of this program ultimately depends on bringing relevant innovation and impactful ideas to the solar industry. We think our competitors have a strong pulse on industry needs and we wanted to engage them by getting community input. By using a randomly assigned peer ranking process, the Prize Administrator will be able to better assign individual submissions to judges with the appropriate expertise and we will have a wealth of data about how our winners were ranked by the community.

Please review Appendix 1 of the official rules document for a list of the updates to the rules covered in this modification.


If you encounter an issue when attempting to submit an entry to the challenge, you may need to contact HeroX or the Prize Administrator.

You may try to connect with HeroX using the online form which appears in the bottom right corner of your browser window, it says Leave a Message.

You may also send a message to the Prize Administrator inbox at

Please allow at least 1 business day for a response. 

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the Prize Administrator for the American-Made Challenges. In this capacity NREL works closely with the U.S. Department of Energy to administer the challenges, maintain the website platform, assist in building the network, and pay prize money to the winning teams.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.

Or, you may contact a challenge administrator directly at

To add tags or labels to an entry you must first submit an entry.

Once you have completed the submission entry form, you'll see a new element on the main page for the Solar Prize.  Each submission you enter will be shown here, along with the title and a button to view your entry.

Now that an entry exists, you may add labels to it.  The purpose of this is to help categorize the submission focus areas and to help facilitate a faster judging process.  It also allows for discoverability for reviewers.

To add a label, click the button for the desired entry you wish to edit/add to.  You'll then see a the preview screen for that submission.  Toward the top of the browser window will be a button titled Label.  Click this button, and select the desired tags/keywords from the dropdown list.  You may select multiple tags to apply to your entry.  Simply click the button and select the appropriate keyword for as many options as you need.

If a keyword does not exist for your submission, you may use the Other option.

All of your files are uploaded as part of the submission form, access this by clicking the Begin Entry button.  The submission form contains an upload option for each of the required file entries.

Make your own public-facing one-slide submission summary that contains technically specific details but can be understood by most people. There is no template so feel free to present the information as you see fit. Please make any text readable in a standard printout and conference room projection.

Updates 27

Challenge Updates

Happening Today: Find Out Who Will Advance as a Round 3 Finalist & Hear a Surprise Announcement

July 8, 2020, 12:16 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Last week, 20 Round 3 semifinalist teams submitted their Set! Contest pitch videos. Tomorrow, teams are participating in private Q&A sessions with a panel of expert reviewers. Friday, we’ll find out which 10 teams were selected to continue to the Go! Contest as finalists. 

Join us Friday, July 10 at 1 p.m. ET to hear Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the Energy Department’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, announce the finalists. Each of the 10 finalist teams will win $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers for their solar technologies. 

The announcement will feature speakers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy, who will be discussing the importance of innovation in the renewable sector. Plus, we’ll be making a surprise announcement you won’t want to miss.

Register here for this monumental finalist announcement!

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Congratulations to the two Round 1 Winners!

Oct. 1, 2019, 9:18 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

On Sept. 24, 13 teams from Round 1 of the Solar Prize made their final pitches to a panel of expert reviewers and an audience of solar industry experts at Solar Power International in Salt Lake City, Utah. At the end of the day, two teams emerged as the final winners, each winning $500,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in vouchers. Congratulations to teams Phase3 Photovoltaics and Solar Inventions! 

The entire Solar Prize team enjoyed getting to know each of you throughout the Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests. Each team made extraordinary progress developing your innovations and business models. We encourage you to continue leveraging the American-Made Network to pursue your innovations and welcome new ideas in Round 3.

A sincere and celebratory thank you for competing in the inaugural American-Made Solar Prize!

To your continued success, 

The Solar Prize Team 

Congratulations to Set! Demo Day Finalists

June 21, 2019, 3:16 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Set! Demo Day in Boston was a huge success! Teams pitched, networked with peers, and learned about what’s in store for the solar industry. At the end of the day, ten talented teams walked away with $100,000 in cash prizes and vouchers to use in the final stage of Round 1 competition. Find out who the 10 finalist teams are and track all 20 teams in the final Go! Contest. We hope to see you all at Solar Power International in September!

Success Story—Omnisole

June 5, 2019, 3:03 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Team Omnisole from Worcester, MA, is working closely with a variety of American-Made Network members including national laboratories like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, business incubators like Elemental Excelerator and Greentown Labs, and manufacturing gurus like Red Blue Collective. The team has been developing and testing prototypes of their no-penetration solar panel racking system for steeply graded rooftops of up to 50 degrees.

Learn more about the team and their no-penetration solar panel racking system, and register to attend Set! Demo Day in Boston on June 6 to see Team Omnisole compete. Good luck!

Success Story—IEC

May 31, 2019, 9 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Team IEC from Lowell, MA, is receiving mentorship from Greentown Labs as they create a road map for their Quick Lift Solar PV system to be made available to the residential market. The team is also working closely with American-Made Network members North Shore Innoventures and Tucker Engineering. Both Connectors have helped IEC build and test their proof-of-concept for their next-generation racking hardware, which the team hopes will bolster domestic manufacturing.

Learn more about the team and their quick lift PV system, and register to attend Set! Demo Day in Boston on June 6 to see Team IEC compete. Good luck!

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