American-Made Challenges

Solar Prize Round 2

Solar Prize Round 2

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

Challenge Overview

Solar Prize Round 2


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!

  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.


Ready!20 to 40$1,000,000 distributed equally with a range of $25,000 to $50,000 in cash per winner
Set!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
Go!2$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 the How to Compete in the American-Made Solar Prize page 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.

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Challenge Updates

Solar Prize Round 2 Ready! Contest Semifinalists Announced!

Sept. 24, 2019, 10:57 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Dear Solar Prize competitors,

Thank you for your submission to the American-Made Solar Prize Ready! Contest and for your patience during the selection process. We’re excited that 20 teams have been selected as semifinalists and were announced this morning at Solar Power International in Salt Lake City. These teams are being contacted by the Solar Prize Team and are eligible to advance to the Set! and Go! Contests.

If you are not one of the semifinalists, we encourage you to keep innovating and looking for opportunities to improve your idea. There were numerous, impressive submissions to the Ready! Contest. In fact, there were more than 125 submissions from across the country. Many of these were great ideas but needed additional development and refinement to advance to the next level. In the coming weeks, you will receive an e-mail from the Prize Administrator with comments and feedback on your submission from the judges that reviewed it.   

We want to thank all teams for competing in the 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. 

Should you have questions, please feel free to reach out at 

Best wishes,

The Solar Prize Team


Solar Prize Ready! Contest Semifinalists 

Here’s a brief description of the 20 semifinalists:


  • Back-contacted silicon modules at the cost of PERC (Tempe, AZ) – This team is replacing high-cost copper conductive back-sheets with a much cheaper aluminum version. 


  • Locally Grown Power (Claremont, CA) – This solution eliminates reverse biasing of individual cells when modules undergo partial shading.


  • Sunlight-Shaping Solar Panels (Seattle, WA) - This team is developing perovskite-based solar downconversion technology.


  • Continuous Silicon Wafer Production (Pittsburgh, PA) – This team has pioneered a new approach to horizontal ribbon growth, leading to a reduction in cost of silicon wafers. 


  • Reliable and Low-Cost Passive Solar Tracker (Oxon Hill, MD) – This team is developing a low-cost passive solar tracking system uses the temperature difference of bimetallic coils for actuation


  • Piranha Module Attachment System (Norman, OK) – The team developed a universal solution for a wide range of PV module attachment applications. 


  • Cost-Effective Commercial Solar (Mountain View, CA) – This team will make integrated solar panels and mounts for flat roofs which install 4 times faster and weigh half as much to optimize cost. 
  • Dirt Control, BiFacial reflect, Roads replacement (Austin, TX) – This team proposes an eco-friendly, cost-effective road coating that controls dust and dirt disruption on service roads and other high traffic locations near solar field installations. 


  • SolPavers – Elegant, Invisible, Low-cost, Safe Solar (New Braunfels, TX) – This team is transforming the patio paver into a sunlight permeable, high-strength, composite concrete and resin paver that produces power. 


  • Decorative Solar Tiles (Herndon, VA) - This team is designing attractive, decorative front contact patterns on solar cells, allowing for visually appealing solar surfaces. 


  • Micro-solar Manufacturing (Ashburn, VA) – This team is proposing a microsolar manufacturing system that cuts, assembles, and encapsulates small scale solar panels for small electronics solutions.



Systems Integration

  • Power Router for Distributing Solar in Communities (Vestal, NY) – This device is capable of acting as a controllable valve to “push and pull” specified amounts of real and reactive power between two distribution circuit feeds. 


  • Critical Network Infrastructure Support (Tucson, AZ) – This team is providing back-up power for pedestrian walk signals and other traffic and communications infrastructure. 


  • Zitara Battery Analytics (Oakland, CA) – This team is providing battery analytics for grid-scale and residential storage to improve safety and longevity.


  • Solar-20Battery (Ann Arbor, MI) – This team is providing a solar home system that lasts 20 years without replacing any components by combining a solar charge controller and matching hardware where batteries last as long as the other components. 


  • Optimized Lithium Solar Storage Solution (Winston-Salem, NC) – Using repurposed automotive lithium batteries, this team is developing a scalable and efficient residential battery management and charging system.


  • SIGUE. Smart Off-Grid PV Energy Management (Hudson, OH) – This team has developed a technology to smartly consume the energy produced by an off-grid (individual and microgrid) system and is working to adopt it to grid connected homes. 


  • The World’s Only Self-Installable Energy Storage System (Cody, WY) – This team provides an in-home energy storage unit that plugs into a standard wall outlet. 


  • >15kV Power Router (SST) DC Coupled Solar + Storage (Georgetown, TX) – This power router connects directly to the medium voltage grid, which eliminates the 60Hz transformer, breaker, switchgear, PTs, and CTs.




  • CSP Trans-Critical Water Desalination (Pittsburgh, PA) – This team is creating a prototype for a trans-critical desaliniation system, targeting a providing a clean drinking water source. 


Last Chance—Submit Your Innovation TODAY

July 16, 2019, 9:13 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

We’re in the final hours to submit your idea for Round 2 of the Solar Prize! Full submissions are due at 2:00 p.m. ET, however, we highly recommend getting all materials submitted before then—don’t get bogged down by a network failure or long upload time and miss the deadline!


As a reminder, here’s what a full submission looks like:


1.     Project details (name, team members, key partners, if any)

2.     90-second video pitch

3.     Four question written narrative (problem, solution, team, plan)

4.     Technical assistance request

5.     Submission summary slide

6.     Letters of commitment or support (optional)

This is your chance to compete for a piece of $3M in the Solar Prize. Upload your submissions now!


Trust Yourself—Advice for Round 2 Competitors

July 15, 2019, 11 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

We asked Round 1 teams what advice they had for anyone thinking about competing in Round 2 of the Solar Prize. Finalists Ethan and Joe from Team Omnisole had some advice about trusting yourself you won’t want to ignore. Here’s what they had to say.



Thinking about submitting your idea for Round 2 of the Solar Prize? Now’s the time to do it! Register your team now and submit your idea by July 16. Trust us—you’ll be glad you did.

Reminder: Submissions Due Tomorrow - Tuesday, July 16!

July 15, 2019, 8:06 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

As a reminder, your full submissions are due tomorrow - Tuesday, July 16, at 2:00 p.m. ET. If you’ve registered as a competitor or team, or have started your submission, please be aware that you still need to upload all materials in their entirety by this time. We highly recommend that you upload submissions a day in advance in case something takes a while to upload or you experience a network failure—don’t miss out because of a bad internet connection!

If you need help or have a question related to your submission, please contact one of the Power Connectors by going to the American-Made Network page and filtering the members by type.

Download the Ready! Contest Submission Template and make sure your full submission is uploaded by 2:00 p.m. ET on July 16!

We look forward to seeing your submission!

The Solar Prize Team

Hard Work is Key—Advice for Round 2 Competitors

July 12, 2019, 9 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

We asked Round 1 teams what advice they had for anyone thinking about competing in Round 2 of the Solar Prize. Charmaine from finalist team Solar Guardian says it’s all about hard work and putting in the hours.



If you think you have what it takes to compete in Round 2 of the Solar Prize for the chance to win up to $50,000, now’s your chance. Register your team now and submit your idea by July 16.

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