American-Made Solar Prize

American-Made Solar Prize

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

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.






20 to 40

$1,000,000 distributed equally with a range of $25,000 to $50,000 in cash per winner


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



$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 https://americanmadechallenges.org/rules 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 11

The Ready! Contest Is In Its Judging Phase!

Oct. 23, 2018, 11:32 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Hello Solar Prize Competitors,


Thank you to everyone who submitted ideas to the challenge—this community is what makes this challenge truly unique.


We received more than 150 submissions for the Ready! Contest and are now in the official compliance and judging phase (which will last for approximately 30 days as outlined in the published rules online). Once the review is complete, the public portions of compliant submissions will be made available on the HeroX platform. Eligible winners in the Ready! Contest will be announced as soon as our judges complete scoring submissions per the published judging criteria. Because every submission is important, we are working diligently to ensure a fair and timely process. 


Stay tuned for more information as we near the closing of the official judging phase and the announcement of Ready! Contest finalists!


Best wishes,

The Solar Prize Team

Final Ready! Contest Competitor Webinar (October 2nd)

Oct. 1, 2018, 9 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Oct. 2, 2018, 1:45 p.m. MDT

This webinar will cover:
--Last minute office hours
--Deep dive into Ranking Requirements
--Encourage ongoing relationships with Connectors to prepare for Ready, Set, Go!


Solar Power International 2018

Sept. 22, 2018, 11 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Join DOE this week at #SPICon! This year Solar Energy Technologies Office director Dr. Charlie Gay and several technology managers will discuss concentrating solar-thermal power, growing the U.S. manufacturing base, utility PV and storage solutions, and more. See the full schedule here: energy.gov/spi  #AmericanSolar

Five Organizations Selected to Boost American-Made Solar Prize

Sept. 19, 2018, 11:55 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has selected five organizations to facilitate and grow the American-Made Solar Prize, a $3 million competition designed to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing. These organizations, known as Power Connectors, can receive $100,000 each for supporting the American-Made Solar Prize by recruiting competitors and partners, hosting demonstration days, and developing plans and programs to ensure the longevity of the program.

These organizations span the country and have a strong track record of helping innovators succeed:

  • Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Nation of Makers - Silver Spring, Maryland
  • Elemental Excelerator - Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Greentown Labs - Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Powerhouse - Oakland, California

American-Made Power Connectors

“This competition provides a unique opportunity to reshape American solar manufacturing by creating a pipeline of relevant innovations for years to come,” said SunPower Chairman and CEO Tom Werner. “Developing proven experts and strong partners will be of great benefit to help the next generation of manufacturing innovators, as they work to navigate the pivotal moments that can make or break a product.”

Power Connectors will provide a variety of services to help NREL and DOE administer the Solar Prize, including recruiting individuals and teams to participate in the competition and bringing in new organizations that can support entrepreneurs. Two of these organizations will also host a national demo day featuring competitors and bring together distinguished judges and key stakeholders, such as investors, customers, or collaborators that may be positioned to help competitors move their innovations forward.

In addition, Power Connectors will help develop long-term plans to improve the Solar Prize so that it continues to help revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing. Additional resources can be used to expand the ongoing cycles of the Solar Prize.

Among other factors, Power Connectors were selected for their vision, strength of networks, track record of success, and geographic diversity. Each one will bring unique capabilities and benefits to the program, helping to achieve the broader goal of growing the solar innovation ecosystem and American manufacturing.

The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has partnered with NREL to administer the American-Made Solar Prize.

How We Score: Peer-Ranking process

Sept. 17, 2018, 2:34 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

There have been a few questions regarding judging and the peer ranking process. 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.


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