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.

Updates 28

Challenge Updates

Small Business Funding Opportunity: SBIR/STTR

Nov. 16, 2020, 5:13 p.m. PST by NREL Challenge

On Nov. 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the solar topics for the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) funding program for fiscal year 2021. Through SBIR/STTR, small businesses can receive up to $200,000 to engage in high-risk, innovative research and development with the potential for commercialization. Successful awardees can then receive up to $1.1 million for prototype development.

DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office is hosting an informational webinar on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the solar energy SBIR/STTR topics. DOE is seeking projects that advance early-stage ideas in the following topics:

  • Floating Solar-Powered Aeration Systems 
  • Solar Systems Resilient to Weather-Related or Cyber Threats 
  • Innovation in Solar Aesthetics for Residential Photovoltaic Systems 
  • Commercial and Industrial Solar Systems 
  • Agricultural Solar Systems 
  • Components for Generation 3 Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power (Gen3 CSP) Thermal Transport Systems 
  • Affordability, Reliability, and Performance of Solar Technologies 
  • Conductivity-Enhanced Materials for Affordable, Breakthrough Leapfrog Electric and Thermal Applications (CABLE): Electrical Connections for Photovoltaic Modules and Systems Subtopic.

Additionally, there are two technology transfer opportunities, which are designed to transfer a patented technology from a national lab to a small business for commercialization:  

  • Method for Mechanical Load Testing of Photovoltaic (PV) Modules with Concurrently Applied Stressors and Diagnostic Methods
  • Nanocomposite Barrier Films for PV Applications.


Mandatory letters of intent are due Jan. 4, 2021, at 5 p.m. ET. Learn more about the solar topics, and register here for this week’s informational webinar.



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!

Forum 87
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