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.
Team Crystal Sonic from Arizona State University has formed a partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Researchers are fabricating gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar cells that the team is using to cleave and refine their process. Crystal Sonic’s novel wafering technology uses sound waves to cut GaAs solar cells more efficiently. The team has also competed in several business competitions, refining their business skills ahead of Set! Demo Day.
Have an idea that could shape the future of American Solar? Submit your innovation to Round 2 of the Solar Prize! You could win up to $50,000 in cash prizes and connect with a large network of solar industry experts, just like Team Crystal Sonic.
Powerhouse would like to invite all Round I "Set" semifinalist teams and Round II "Ready" candidate teams to a networking happy hour of SolarPrize teams and technical mentors on May 29. The event will take place directly before our live recording of Watt it Takes, a podcast series in collaboration with Greentech Media about the founding stories of cleantech companies. This month's guest is Gene Berdichevsky, Co-Founder and CEO of Sila Nanotechnologies, the materials company that is revolutionizing energy storage and was recently valued at $1 billion.
Please join us at 5:30pm on Wednesday, May 29 at Powerhouse in downtown Oakland to meet SolarPrize teams and mentors. You are then invited to join the live audience for the podcast recording beginning at 6:30pm.
If you'd like to attend, please RSVP by emailing with the names and emails of attendees.
Earlier this week DOE’s Solar Prize Lead Victor Kane and NREL Prize Administrator Debbie Brodt-Giles provided an overview of the goals and vision for the prize, followed by a summary of how to participate, leverage the American-Made Network, and prepare a successful submission.
In case you missed it, the webinar was recorded and is now available on YouTube for you to replay at any time!
On Wednesday, April 24, at 2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. EST, the U.S. Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory will hold an informational webinar on the all-new Round 2 of the $3M Solar Prize. DOE’s Solar Prize Lead Victor Kane and NREL Prize Administrator Debbie Brodt-Giles will provide an overview of the goals and vision for the prize, followed by a summary of how to participate, leverage the American-Made Network, and prepare a successful submission.