American-Made Challenges

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Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track

The Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track offers $3 million in cash prizes to competitors over three progressive contests.

This challenge is closed

stage:
R5 Hardware Track Set! Contest Opens
prize:
$3,000,000

This challenge is closed

Overview

Challenge Overview

Solar Prize Round 5

The American-Made Solar Prize is a prize competition designed to energize U.S. solar innovation 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.

Rounds 1 through 4 of the Solar Prize focused on solar manufacturing and hardware components. The Solar Prize Round 5 is structured with two tracks that focus separately on hardware and software components to allow more entrepreneurs to compete in the solar innovation space.

Hardware Track

The fifth round of the Solar Prize is designed to spur more solar innovation than ever before by splitting participants into two separate technology-focused tracks. The Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track offers $3 million in cash prizes over three progressive contests to competitors who are developing physical solar innovations that energize U.S. manufacturing. 

Why a Hardware Track? 

The Solar Prize has always placed an emphasis on manufacturing solar innovation in the United States. After four successful rounds focusing primarily on tangible technologies, the prize administrators decided to split Round 5 into two tracks—the Hardware Track and the Software Track. Both follow the same prize structure but allow competitors to stay in different lanes to bring both hardware and software products closer to market. 

If your solar innovation focuses on a physical component, manufacturing process, or producible product, the Hardware Track is for you. Learn more by viewing the official rules.

The Solar Prize Contests

The Solar Prize encourages the rapid development of innovative solar energy solutions capable of addressing the tough challenges facing the solar industry. Solar Prize competitors participate in three contests—the Ready! Set! and Go! Contests to transform their ideas into concepts and then early-stage prototypes ready for industry testing. 

The Hardware Track offers $3 million in cash prizes, plus additional support vouchers and connections to national laboratories and industry resources. 

Guidelines

Challenge Guidelines

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.

Timeline
Updates 13

Challenge Updates

Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track Ready! Contest Semifinalists Announced!

Dec. 7, 2021, 11:21 a.m. PST by Jackie Petre

We’re excited that 20 teams have been selected and announced as Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track Ready! Contest semifinalists by the U.S. Department of Energy. Each of these teams won a $50,000 cash prize and are now eligible to advance to the Set! Contest.

The Hardware Track semifinalist technologies includes innovations in three subject areas: photovoltaics, systems integration, and concentrating solar-thermal power. Here are the Round 5 Hardware Track semifinalists:

Photovoltaics

  • Arcadia SR, Simplifying Residential Solar to a Single Product (El Sobrante, CA)
  • Bio-Inspired 3D-Printed Concrete Anchors for Floating Photovoltaics (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Integrated Greenhouse for Food and Clean Water (East Lansing, MI)
  • Optimizing Landfill Solar Power Production and Return on Investment (Derry, NH) 
  • Patina: Solar That Works in the Shade (San Mateo, CA)
  • Portable Solar Carport With Integrated Electric Vehicle Charger (Sarasota, FL)
  • Rapid Deployment Hybrid Microgrid (Nashville, TN)
  • Roll-Formed Steel Frames for Photovoltaic Modules (Bend, OR)
  • Saving Water With Combined Solar and Agriculture (Scotts Valley, CA)
  • Self-Assembled Solar for Half the Cost (Miami, FL)
  • Solar-Powered Cooling, Heating, and Electricity (San Diego, CA)
  • Spectrum Shifting Nanocoating (Hayward, CA)
  • Sun Deck Solar Electric Vehicle Charging Station (Roswell, GA)
  • Wafer-Free Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells (San Francisco, CA) 

Systems Integration

  • Artificial Intelligence Solar Site Controller Synchronizing Electric Vehicle Charging (Lahaina, HI)
  • Power Electronics for the Next Generation of Photovoltaics (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Riding the Solar Curve (Carlsbad, CA)
  • Solactivator: Economical Backup Power for Blackouts (Fremont, CA)
  • SolarSCADA: Modular SCADA Specific to Solar (Denver, CO)

Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power

  • Ten Thousand Splendid Suns (Orinda, CA)

Learn more about each submission by checking out the HeroX Community tab and view the Software Track semifinalists, too.

There were numerous, impressive submissions to the Ready! Contest. In fact, we received more than 175 submissions from across the country between both Round 5 tracks. Many of these were great ideas but needed additional development and refinement to advance to the next level. 

If you submitted an idea and were not chosen as a semifinalist, we encourage you to keep innovating and looking for opportunities to improve your idea. In the coming weeks, you will receive an e-mail from the prize administrator with comments and feedback on your submission from the judges who reviewed it.

Additional Funding Opportunities

We also suggest applying to U.S. Department of Energy’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) funding program. 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. Learn more about the current funding opportunities and how to submit a letter of intent by Jan. 3, 2022.

Several Power Connectors are providing resources and education to help you successfully apply for SBIR/STTR. Learn more and find support by attending one of these upcoming events or reaching out to one of the supporting Power Connectors

Thank You for Your Participation

We want to thank all teams for competing in the Solar Prize Round 5 Ready! Contest and hope you continue to be an active member of the Solar Prize community. Please continue to utilize the American-Made Network to improve your ideas and watch for other opportunities to make them a reality by signing up for our American-Made Challenges Newsletter

Should you have questions, please feel free to reach out at . Congratulations, again, to the Round 5 semifinalists!


Round 5 Ready! Contest Now Closed

Oct. 7, 2021, 7:35 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry to the Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track’s Ready! Contest. Round 5 is now closed to submissions. We received many entries and are excited to see all the creative ideas out there! 

We hope to announce Round 5 semifinalists in December—stay tuned for the latest updates here. In the meantime, we encourage you to look for other prize opportunities, like the Solar Forecasting Prize, which is coming soon. 

Good luck!


Today: Solar Prize Round 5 Submissions Due by 5 p.m. ET!

Oct. 5, 2021, 7 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Today is the deadline to submit your innovation to the Solar Prize Round 5. Make sure your full submission is uploaded no later than 5 p.m. ET!

 As a reminder, here’s what you need to submit to the Hardware Track: 

  • 90-second video (public)
  • Cover page content
  • Narrative that answers four questions about the problem, solution, team, and plan (not to exceed 2,500 words)
  • One summary PowerPoint slide (public)
  • Technical assistance request (public)
  • Letters of commitment or support (optional).

, Round 5 requires you to create an account in our new Network Matchmaking Tool. Make sure you review the rules carefully and use the submission template to complete your entry. Submissions must be in by 5 p.m. ET today, though we highly recommend uploading your submission as early as possible to avoid connectivity issues or upload delays. 

Don’t miss your chance to earn $50,000 in the Ready! Contest—submit your Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track submission now!


Solar Prize Round 5 Submissions Due Next Tuesday

Oct. 1, 2021, 8:05 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Don’t forget to submit your Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track innovation by 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 5!

With only a few days left until the Round 5 submission deadline, now is the time to finalize your submission elements and get your application uploaded to HeroX. As a reminder, here’s what you need to submit to the Hardware Track: 

  • 90-second video (public) 
  • Cover page content
  • Narrative that answers four questions about the problem, solution, team, and plan (not to exceed 2,500 words)
  • One summary PowerPoint slide (public)
  • Technical assistance request (public) 
  • Letters of commitment or support (optional).

Make sure you review the rules carefully and use the submission template to complete your entry. Submissions must be in by 5 p.m. ET, though we highly recommend uploading your submission as early as possible to avoid connectivity issues or upload delays. 

Don’t miss your chance to earn $50,000 in the Ready! Contest—submit your Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track submission now!


Submission Requirement: Network Matchmaking Tool for TAR

Sept. 28, 2021, 10:59 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Reminder:  Round 5 requires you to create an account in our new Network Matchmaking Tool. Make sure you are signing up as an “Innovator” and provide information about what your needs are related to your innovation. You can also connect directly with our American-Made Network (our connectors) who are willing and able to help you with your submission! Once you sign-in, you will be able to complete your Technical Assistance Request (TAR) form. This is a necessary step for your submission and separate from the HeroX platform. Please make sure that you log-in early and get connected here:  Network Matchmaking Tool.


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