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American-Made Challenges

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Solar Prize Round 5 Software Track

Solar Prize Round 5 Software Track offers $1.6 million in cash prizes over three contests.

This challenge is closed

stage:
Won
prize:
$1,600,000

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.

Software 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 Software Track offers $1.6 million in cash prizes over three progressive contests to competitors who are accelerating the development, validation, and commercialization of innovative solar software solutions that increase the competitiveness of the U.S. solar industry.

Why a Software 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 communications, computation, or information technology that allows industry to rethink how today’s solar energy problems are solved, the Software Track is for you.

A Focus on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The Software Track also offers participants the option to compete for a Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Trophy, which offers additional prizes for technologies that consider and incorporate environmental justice principles. This optional element asks competitors to develop solutions that enable underserved communities to overcome systemic barriers to solar deployment, with an additional $300,000 in cash prizes available to those who successfully complete this challenge. 

Learn more about the JEDI Trophy in the official Software Track 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 Software Track offers $1.6 million in cash prizes, plus additional support vouchers, the JEDI Trophy, 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
Updates24

Challenge Updates

Congratulations to the Solar Prize Round 5 Winners

Sept. 22, 2022, 8:30 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

After successful final pitches at the RE+ Conference on Sept. 20, five Solar Prize Round 5 teams took home top honors and cash awards for their innovative solar concepts. During the final Go! Contest, teams worked on developing and testing their product or prototype, building their network, and making a long-term plan for the success of their concept. 

The Software Track winners, below, received $200,000 each, and $50,000 in vouchers. 

illu, Sunnyvale, CA: This team is building a mobile and desktop tool for operations and maintenance workflow management that will assist field technicians and simplify distributed solar maintenance.

SolarGrade, Carlsbad, CA: This team is building a management platform to improve inspection, operations, and maintenance of PV systems leveraging field technician inputs and data analytics.

In addition, Midday Tech from San Francisco, CA, was awarded $100,000 for their winning submission to the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest, which focuses on advancing solar in underserved communities. Midday Tech is building a platform to connect consumers who purchase voluntary carbon offsets with high-impact rooftop solar projects in underserved communities.

The following Hardware Track winners were awarded $500,000 cash and $75,000 in vouchers to help the team bring their concept to fruition. 

Origami Solar, Bend, OR: This team is developing steel PV module frames leveraging U.S.-made and formed steel. Compared to current frames made from imported aluminum, these frames lower the carbon emissions associated with making the frames and reduce PV system costs, while supporting a U.S.-based supply chain.

TECSI Solar, El Sobrante, CA: This team is developing a residential solar module that simplifies the ordering and installation process by combining the racking, flashing, hardware, and power electronics into a single product. TECSI’s all-in-one solar module eliminates the aluminum frame, reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the installation.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in Round 5 and contributed their innovative ideas for energizing solar innovation. The prize administrators are so proud of the work you’ve all accomplished throughout this competition and look forward to seeing your continued success.

Don’t forget, Round 6 is open and accepting submissions now through Oct. 6. We highly encourage Solar Prize newcomers and alumni to apply! 


Solar Prize Round 5 Winners to be Announced September 20 at RE+

Aug. 10, 2022, 7:30 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

The conclusion of Round 5 of the Solar Prize will take place Sept. 20 at RE+, the nation’s largest conference for renewable energy professionals. Conference attendees are invited to watch team pitches during the day, visit their booths in the conference Expo Hall, and hear the Solar Prize winner announcements that evening.

Learn more about ways to connect with the Solar Prize at RE+

During the competition’s final event, Go! Demo Day, Software Track finalist teams will present a short pitch on their technology to industry peers at 2-3:30 p.m. in the Grid Edge Theater. If you’re attending the conference, we invite you to come hear about all the innovative concepts these finalist teams have developed over the last year! Attendees can also learn more about each Software Track team’s concept at team booths located around the Expo Hall. 

The American-Made program will also host a booth on the show floor, and attendees are invited to learn more about the Solar Prize Round 6 and other American-Made Challenges from prize administrators from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Select Solar Prize alumni from Rounds 2-4 will have booth spaces as well and will showcase the progress they’ve made since completing the competition.

On the evening of Sept. 20, the final winner of the Solar Prize Round 5 Software Track will be announced and awarded $200,000, plus $50,000 in vouchers to help the team bring their concept to fruition. In addition, one winner of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest will be announced and awarded $100,000 (Note: Teams need not win the Go! Contest in order to be eligible to win the JEDI contest.) The winner announcement will take place at the RE+ conference at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET. You can also watch the livestream of the winner announcement on the American-Made Challenges Twitter feed.

Stay tuned to find out who wins! 


Congratulations to the 10 Software Track Finalist Teams!

April 22, 2022, 11:56 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Congratulations to the finalists moving on to the Go! Contest of the Solar Prize Round 5, announced today at the American-Made Earth Day Celebration. Ten Software Track teams were each awarded $60,000 in cash prizes, and three of those teams received an additional $33,333 for their submissions to the optional Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest, which focuses on advancing solar adoption in underserved communities.   

Semifinalist teams showcased their concepts during the virtual Round 5 Set! Demo Day events, after demonstrating their software’s minimum viable products. A panel of industry experts reviewed the teams’ pitch videos and conducted a 10-minute question-and-answer session with each team to discuss their innovations in more detail before selecting the finalists.

Now, after months of diligent work from the teams and careful deliberation by the judges, the finalist teams have been announced:

  • Better Solar (Orlando, FL): This team is building machine vision software to process electroluminescence (EL) imagery and automatically identify PV defects with application to both PV module manufacturing and PV plant maintenance.
  • CleanFi (Los Angeles, CA): This team is developing a platform that seeks to automate solar project financing for the small-and-midscale commercial sector, including facilitating the use of commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE).
  • illu (Sunnyvale, CA): This team is building a mobile and desktop tool for operations and maintenance workflow management that will assist field technicians and simplify distributed solar maintenance.
  • KiloNewton (Albuquerque, NM): This team is developing geospatial software to optimally site utility-scale solar and avoid challenging terrain, helping to avoid costly discoveries that can come in later stages of project development.
  • Midday Tech (San Francisco, CA): This team is building a platform to connect consumers who purchase voluntary carbon offsets with high-impact rooftop solar projects in underserved communities. (JEDI Contest winner)
  • Nimbus AI (Honolulu, HI): This team is creating day-ahead probabilistic solar irradiance forecasts leveraging recent advances in satellite imagery and advanced machine learning algorithms.
  • Sandbox Solar (Fort Collins, CO): This team is building software to help design agrivoltaic projects, with a focus on simulating the microclimates under solar modules and predicting crop growth yields.
  • SolarGrade (Carlsbad, CA): This team is building a workflow management platform to facilitate inspection, operations, and maintenance of PV systems leveraging field technician inputs and data analytics.
  • Solar Stewards Marketplace (Atlanta, GA): This team is creating a marketplace for a new type of renewable energy credit (REC), a social REC, that allows corporate purchasers to buy RECs produced in underserved communities, aligning better with their corporate missions. (JEDI Contest winner)
  • The Solar Equity Team (Boston, MA): This team is developing a platform that connects larger installations that have surplus solar generation with nonprofits and underserved consumers to enable an easy peer-to-peer credit sharing transaction. (JEDI Contest winner)

The finalists will present their technologies one last time at Go! Demo Day in September 2022. Ultimately, only two teams will win the final prize, each receiving an additional $200,000 cash prize and $50,000 support voucher to help them bring their technology to market.

Congratulations to the finalist teams and all of the Solar Prize Round 5 competitors!


Tomorrow: Hear the Solar Prize Set! Contest Finalist Announcement at the American-Made Earth Day Celebration

April 21, 2022, 9:30 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Tomorrow—find out which teams advance in the Solar Prize Round 5 at the American-Made Earth Day Celebration!

Solar Prize Round 5 Demo Day Q&A sessions are wrapping up and finalists are being selected! Tomorrow, we’ll find out which teams win cash prizes and move on to the Go! Contest as finalists. Hear the live virtual finalist announcement tomorrow, Friday, April 22, at 12 p.m. ET during the American-Made Earth Day Celebration! 

During this event, the American-Made team, along with key energy industry players, will highlight the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in a more sustainable, inclusive, and just energy future. 

In addition to the Solar Prize Round 5 finalist announcement, this virtual event will feature guest speakers, prize announcements, education sessions, networking opportunities, and more. In addition to the finalist announcement, the celebration will also include updates from many other prizes, guest speakers, networking sessions, and more. 

Even if you aren’t competing in the Solar Prize Round 5, you’re invited to join this event to network with industry peers and attend education sessions!

Register here for the American-Made Earth Day Celebration tomorrow, April 22 to find out which Hardware and Software Track teams advance as finalists. We hope to see you there! 


Winners of Solar Prize Round 5 Demo Days to be Announced at American-Made Earth Day Celebration

April 13, 2022, 7 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

You’re invited to the American-Made Earth Day Celebration on Friday, April 22, featuring the announcement of Solar Prize Round 5 finalists!

Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware and Software Track semifinalists are busy working on their Set! Contest presentations for next week’s Demo Day events. Teams already submitted their entries and are preparing to meet with a panel of expert reviewers in closed-door Q&A sessions. Finally, reviewers will deliberate and select finalists in each track.

The exciting finalist announcement will take place at the first-ever American-Made Earth Day Celebration on April 22 at 12 p.m. ET! Join the virtual event to hear the news, along with other prize announcements, and stick around for guest speakers, educational sessions, and networking opportunities.

Register now to secure your spot to hear the Solar Prize Round 5 finalist announcement and be part of the Earth Day Celebration! 


Forum36
Teams350
Winners
Go! Winner
Go! JEDI Winner
Set! Finalist
Ready! Semifinalist
Solar Waves Solar Waves
1 team member
Looking for members
Steve Green's team Steve Green's team
2 team members
Looking for members
Solar Shepherds Solar Shepherds
1 team member
Looking for members
Anna May Young's team Anna May Young's team
2 team members
Looking for members
Mitch Minarick's team Mitch Minarick's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Chris S's team Chris S's team
1 team member
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SolarAssistant: Let Solar Speak for Itself SolarAssistant: Let Solar Speak for Itself
1 team member
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Uplift Solar Corp. and Wythe Windows Uplift Solar Corp. and Wythe Windows
2 team members
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Jigawatt Jigawatt
1 team member
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Kris Brannock's team Kris Brannock's team
3 team members
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OEO's team OEO's team
2 team members
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Daly Energy Daly Energy
1 team member
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The Solar Equity team The Solar Equity team
2 team members
Looking for members
Daniel Marsch's team Daniel Marsch's team
1 team member
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EnergyNudge EnergyNudge
1 team member
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ZyncTank ZyncTank
1 team member
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Enerex Enerex
1 team member
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Forward Education & Technology Forward Education & Technology
5 team members
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Turbine Logic Turbine Logic
6 team members
Looking for members
Kenny's team Kenny's team
1 team member
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Lattice Energy Solutions Lattice Energy Solutions
1 team member
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Venture Connections by Tech Ranch Venture Connections by Tech Ranch
1 team member
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Seeds Renewables Inc. Seeds Renewables Inc.
1 team member
Looking for members
Aram Andriesian's team Aram Andriesian's team
2 team members
Looking for members
Climformatics Climformatics
2 team members
Looking for members
PowerMarket PowerMarket
1 team member
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OptimoEnergy team OptimoEnergy team
2 team members
Looking for members
Sol-Sim Sol-Sim
2 team members
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Red Blue Collective Red Blue Collective
3 team members
Looking for members
Moon Innovations  team Moon Innovations team
1 team member
Looking for members
SolarToken SolarToken
10 team members
Looking for members
RenuLogix RenuLogix
2 team members
Looking for members
Sunbase team Sunbase team
1 team member
Looking for members
Ian Skor's team Ian Skor's team
2 team members
Looking for members
CleanFi.com, the funding marketplace CleanFi.com, the funding marketplace
1 team member
Looking for members
Sesame Solar's team Sesame Solar's team
1 team member
Looking for members
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