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!
Identify an important problem you want to solve (discover ideas through ideation on HeroX)
Submit a 90-second video describing your challenge and proposed solution, team, and plan
Answer a short, four-question narrative and make a slide about this problem or challenge
Submit a two-page technical assistance request
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.
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.
Yesterday, the Solar Prize Round 5 launched the fifth round of competition, this time with two tracks that focus on hardware and software components separately. With this two-track structure, Round 5’s Hardware and Software Tracks offer a combined $4.6 million in cash prizes, double the winners, and a new challenge that addresses environmental justice.
Participants across both tracks will follow the same timeline but compete for separate prize pools.
Hardware Track: The Hardware Track offers $3 million in cash prizes to competitors over three progressive contests. This track places an emphasis on developing physical solar innovations that energize U.S. manufacturing.
Software Track: The Software Track offers $1.6 million in cash prizes over three contests, plus an additional challenge that awards competitors who meet justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) requirements. This track accelerates the development, validation, and commercialization of innovative solar software solutions that increase the competitiveness of the U.S. solar industry.
The goal for developing two tracks in the Solar Prize Round 5 is to allow more entrepreneurs to compete in the solar innovation space. The U.S. Department of Energy recognizes the need for both hardware and software technologies in the industry.
The prize administrators invite all Solar Prize alumni and new competitors to submit an idea to Round 5!
Have questions about competing? Learn more about the two-track structure, milestones, and more at the Solar Prize Round 5 Informational Webinar on Tuesday, July 13, at 3 p.m. ET. Register here for the webinar.
Two weeks ago, 20 Solar Prize Round 4 semifinalist teams submitted their Set! Contest pitch videos. Today, teams participate in private Q&A sessions with a panel of expert reviewers to discuss their technologies. Tomorrow, we’ll find out which 10 teams are selected to continue to the Go! Contest as finalists.
Whether you participated in a previous round of the Solar Prize and want to see the next cohort of innovators, or you’re interested in groundbreaking solar technology, you’re invited to join tomorrow’s finalist announcement at 2 p.m. ET to find out which 10 teams will win $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers.
The Round 4 Set! Demo Day Finalist Announcement will feature guest speaker William Huston, founder and director of institutional services at Bay Street Capital Holdings. Huston will be speaking about investing in renewable energy and how innovators can make their technology attractive to venture capitalists.
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
On Aug. 27, 10 finalist teams from Round 2 of the Solar Prize had virtual Q&A sessions with a panel of expert reviewers, discussing their technologies in the hopes of taking home $500,000. After a year of competition, they were eager to find out who would be the next Solar Prize champions. The next day, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the two final winners: Resilient Power Systems and SunFlex Solar.
Both teams were chosen because of their products’ viability and potential to impact the solar industry. Each team made extraordinary progress developing their innovations and business models, despite enormous challenges from COVID-19. Here’s a look inside their journey through Round 2:
Twelve months. Ten teams. Three contests. Two winners. One shot.
It all comes down to this.
Today, we will find out who is named the Solar Prize Round 2 final winners. Join us at 1 p.m. ET as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R. Simmons reveals the winners at a live winner announcement.
After a year of competing, two teams of solar innovators will each earn $500,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in technical support vouchers for their ingenious idea to change the solar industry. This is a monumental event for the Solar Prize and the future of solar energy.
Yes, however, the intent of the voucher funding is to encourage the development of new and productive relationships. If you win a Set! or a Go! Prize then you will not be able to use your voucher funding at your current organization. i.e. National lab researchers would need to utilize their voucher at a Lab that is not where they are, or recently (4 months or less) were, employed.
We want to allow for the option that a competitor may significantly advance their solution and identify a pilot partner even if they did not win a Set! Prize. The teams that address the goals of the Go! Prize will win the Go! Prize.
Innovation is about making ideas happen. The American-Made Network will accelerate and sustain solar innovation through a diverse and powerful network that includes national laboratories, energy incubators, facilities, and other valuable industry partners from across the U.S. who will engage, connect, mentor, and boost the efforts of Solar Prize competitors.
Connectors are the core component of the American-Made Network and are organizations that seek to support the efforts of competitors in the Solar Prize. Use this link to explore the Network to find potential partners and develop relationships.
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.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the Prize Administrator for the American-Made Challenges. In this capacity NREL works closely with the U.S. Department of Energy to administer the challenges, maintain the website platform, assist in building the network, and pay prize money to the winning teams.
To add tags or labels to an entry you must first submit an entry.
Once you have completed the submission entry form, you'll see a new element on the main page for the Solar Prize. Each submission you enter will be shown here, along with the title and a button to view your entry.
Now that an entry exists, you may add labels to it. The purpose of this is to help categorize the submission focus areas and to help facilitate a faster judging process. It also allows for discoverability for reviewers.
To add a label, click the button for the desired entry you wish to edit/add to. You'll then see a the preview screen for that submission. Toward the top of the browser window will be a button titled Label. Click this button, and select the desired tags/keywords from the dropdown list. You may select multiple tags to apply to your entry. Simply click the button and select the appropriate keyword for as many options as you need.
If a keyword does not exist for your submission, you may use the Other option.
Make your own public-facing one-slide submission summary that contains technically specific details but can be understood by most people. There is no template so feel free to present the information as you see fit. Please make any text readable in a standard printout and conference room projection.