The American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize is designed to incentivize photovoltaic (PV) system owners to share information-rich datasets from their assets. With this data, the industry and research communities can continue to develop, validate, and fine-tune modeling tools for solar applications. This prize offers more than $1.4 million in cash prizes to competitors throughout two stages.
The Solar Futures Study, released in 2021 by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), found that with aggressive cost reductions, supportive policies, and large-scale electrification, solar energy could account for as much as 40% of the nation’s electricity supply by 2035 and 45% by 2050.
However, PV systems often involve components with complex electrical, thermal, and mechanical behavior, creating a challenging task for research and development (R&D) initiatives. The Solar Data Bounty Prize aims to help bridge the gap between available data and commercial and academic R&D efforts seeking to improve the accuracy of PV system modeling, thus lowering the risk associated with developing and operating those assets.
How to Apply
The Solar Data Bounty Prize is comprised of two stages, and each stage has two tracks:
Track A for small-to-medium systems (100-5,000 kWDC)
Track B for larger systems (> 5,000 kW DC)
This prize offers up to six Track A prizes at $80,000 each, up to three Track B prizes at $130,000 each, and multiple other runner-up and bonus prizes. Competitors are allowed only one submission for each of the two tracks (Track A and Track B) but are not required to submit to both tracks. Multiple submissions to the same tracks are not allowed.
In Stage 1, competitors will submit metadata about the timeseries data from a system of their choice and a minimum of one month of irradiance timeseries data from that same system. The top 25 selected competitors across the two tracks in Stage 1 will become eligible to compete in the next stage.
In Stage 2, competitors will be asked to submit the actual complete timeseries data corresponding to the metadata shared during their Stage 1 submission. Competitors in Stage 2 will also have the opportunity to join the PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative project to receive focused performance analysis by researchers at NREL.
Interested participants can create a HeroX account and read the Official Rules to get started.
The Solar Data Bounty Prize is a competition with four levels of recognition. Reviewers, including DOE staff and external experts, will evaluate nominations and give the following recognition and awards to top submissions.
Top 15 teams earn $5,000 each
Winners: Top 6 teams earn $80,000 each
Runners-Up: Up to 4 teams earn $30,000 each
Bonus Prizes: Top 2 teams are eligible for $40,000 each
Top 10 teams earn $5,000 each
Winners: Top 3 teams earn $130,000 each
Runners-Up: Up to 2 teams earn $50,000 each
Bonus Prizes: Top 2 teams are eligible for $60,000 each
Competitors will be scored on the content of the metadata template they submit to HeroX. The template contains formulas that automatically calculate the Basic Score based on the metadata. Only competitors who successfully meet all the required conditions are eligible to receive a prize.
The top 15 selected competitors from Track A and the top 10 selected competitors from Track B will each win $5,000 in cash prizes and gain eligibility to compete in Stage 2.
All the submitted irradiance timeseries data from Stage 1 will be made publicly available through the Prize.
Competitors asked to compete in Stage 2 will be scored based on four criteria:
Actual data submitted
Completeness of data (including, but not limited to,numerical values for the daytime timestamps in each of the supplied timeseries)
From these submissions, an estimated 15 PV system timeseries datasets from winners and runners-up will be made publicly available.
Read more about the scoring breakdown and dataset requirements in the Official Rules.
Please review the Official Rules for the complete application process and instructions for competing.
If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at .
Thank you to all competitors who applied for the Solar Data Bounty prize! To ensure our reviewers have the time they need to thoroughly review each application, the Stage 1 Winner Announcement will take place in October rather than the anticipated date of Sept. 22.
Once the announcement has been made, our team will provide an updated timeline with new dates for the Stage 2 Technical Webinar and submission deadline. Until then, we encourage all applicants to follow the prize here on HeroX for the most up-to-date information.
The prize administrators also encourage all applicants to review the updated Official Rules document (Modification 2) to see the edits made to the timeline portion, as well as some additional language updates in reference to the total prize winners of Stage 2.
We appreciate your patience and look forward to announcing the Stage 1 winners soon.
The Solar Data Bounty Prize submission deadline is just around the corner. Don’t forget to submit the following items on HeroX by TOMORROW, Sept. 6, at 5 p.m. ET. for your chance to take home part of $1.4M in cash prizes:
The prize administrators highly encourage all applicants to complete their submissions as early as possible to avoid any connectivity issues or upload delays. Late submissions will not be accepted.
Any unanswered questions asked during the live Q&A portion of the webinar are posted with answers in the FAQ tab.
Questions regarding specific eligibility, submission requirements, or topics not covered in the rules can be posted in Forum tabwhere a prize administrator will publicly respond.
Don’t forget—all applications for the Solar Data Bounty Prize are due next Wednesday, Sept. 6, by 5 p.m. ET. With $1.4M in cash prizes up for grabs, you won’t want to miss your chance to apply! The prize administrators highly recommend uploading your submission as early as possible to avoid any connectivity issues or upload delays. Late submissions will not be accepted.
As a reminder, all competitors need to submit the following materials through HeroX before the submission deadline:
Intent to Compete HeroX Package (Cover Page and Evidence of PV System Ownership)
System Metadata and Specifications
Irradiance Timeseries Data
For more information about submission materials, please read the Official Rules.
Who can I reach out to with questions?
Find answers to commonly asked questions, including those asked during the Solar Data Bounty Prize Informational Webinar, in the FAQ tab. Any topics not covered in the FAQ tab or the Official Rulescan be posted in the Forum tab.
Don’t wait—submit your Solar Data Bounty Prize application as soon as possible. Good luck!
Did you know you can boost your Solar Data Bounty Prize score if you choose to share additional submission details? The system location, inverter and module metadata, and electric data related to your submission will automatically remain anonymous, unless you choose to waive these features.
Each waived anonymization feature will multiply your score by a factor of 1.26. Read more about the prize’s scoring methods in the Official Rules (Section 10).
As a Solar Data Bounty Prize competitor, you may be wondering, “What happens to my photovoltaic (PV) data after I submit my application?” We can answer that! Data from the winning systems will be made accessible to the public via the Open Energy Data Initiative (OEDI) data lake and a supporting web-based interface.
Once this data is public, it will contribute to commercial and academic research and development efforts seeking to improve the accuracy of PV system modeling. Your data will also help lower the risk associated with developing and operating PV assets—a necessary condition for decarbonizing the power grid by 2035.
Additional Points for Underrepresented States
Systems installed in the same U.S. territory or state will share a 20% bonus modifier. The actual value of the modifier will depend on the number of competing systems that are installed in that state or territory.
Example: In Stage 2, five systems (j = 1, 2, ..., 5) enter from Texas, whereas seven systems (k = 1, 2, ..., 7) enter from Massachusetts. If their respective V3 scores are V3j and V3k, then their final scores will be calculated as follows:
[Final Score]j = (1 + 0.20/5) * V3j (for each of the systems in Texas)
[Final Score]k = (1 + 0.20/7) * V3k (for each of the systems in Massachusetts)
As a reminder, the system location, inverter and module metadata, and electric data related to your submission will automatically remain anonymous unless you choose to waive these features.Each waived anonymization feature will multiply your score by a factor of 1.26.
Boost to Your Score
Score * 1.26
Score * 1.5876
Score * 2.0004
Read more about boosting your overall score in the Official Rules (Section 10), and don’t forget to submit your Solar Data Bounty Prize application by Sept. 6 at 5 p.m. ET.