American-Made Challenges


Solar Prize Round 2

The American-Made Solar Prize is a $3 million prize competition designed to accelerate and sustain American solar innovation.
$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

Happening Today: Find Out Who Will Advance as a Round 3 Finalist & Hear a Surprise Announcement

July 8, 2020, 12:16 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Last week, 20 Round 3 semifinalist teams submitted their Set! Contest pitch videos. Tomorrow, teams are participating in private Q&A sessions with a panel of expert reviewers. Friday, we’ll find out which 10 teams were selected to continue to the Go! Contest as finalists. 

Join us Friday, July 10 at 1 p.m. ET to hear Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the Energy Department’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, announce the finalists. Each of the 10 finalist teams will win $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers for their solar technologies. 

The announcement will feature speakers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy, who will be discussing the importance of innovation in the renewable sector. Plus, we’ll be making a surprise announcement you won’t want to miss.

Register here for this monumental finalist announcement!

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Congrats, Round 2 Finalists!

April 7, 2020, 11:58 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge


On March 30, the U.S. Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced 10 Solar Prize Round 2 finalist teams. These teams were chosen for the considerable progress they’ve made since winning the Ready! Contest. 

These 20 semifinalists participated in a virtual Round 2 Set! Demo Day on Friday, March 27. Prior to Set! Demo Day, teams submitted 4-minute video pitches, which were reviewed by a panel of industry experts and posted online for public view. During Set! Demo Day, each team had a 10-minute question-and-answer session with the panel of reviewers to further discuss their pitches and describe their innovations.

After careful deliberation, the reviewers selected 10 finalist teams, each of whom won $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers. 

The Round 2 finalist teams are: 

  • Team Asoleyo Architectural Solar CellsAsoleyo Architectural Solar: This team is designing front contact patterns on solar cells for visually appealing solar surfaces.
  • Team Integrated Silicon TechnologiesContinuous Silicon Wafer Production: This team is developing a low-cost manufacturing method for silicon wafers that involves melting the silicon, which floats as it solidifies, and slowly pulling a continuous, thin layer of it.
  • Team Orison Inc.Orison Energy Storage Enables Solar: This team is developing an in-home energy storage unit that plugs into a standard wall outlet and can be charged using solar energy.
  • Team Resilient Power Systems>15kV Power Router (SST) DC Coupled Solar+Storage: This team is developing a power router to connect a medium-scale solar plant directly to the medium-voltage grid, reducing costs and eliminating equipment that is typically required.
  • Team SolpaverSolPavers-Elegant, Invisible, Low-Cost, Safe Solar: This team is transforming the patio paver into a sunlight-permeable, high-strength, composite concrete and resin paver that produces power and eliminates the need for additional mounting hardware.
  • Team SunFlex SolarBack-Contacted Silicon Modules at the Cost of PERC: This team is replacing high-cost copper back-sheets used in standard back-contacted silicon cells with lower-cost aluminum. 
  • Team Switched Source LLCPhase-EQ for Distributing Solar in Communities: This team is developing a device—and software to control it—that will enable higher penetration of solar on distribution feeders without costly infrastructure upgrades.
  • Team Taka SolarAdvanced Bifacial Panel: This team is creating an integrated solar panel and mount product for flat commercial rooftops that installs four times faster and weighs half as much as traditional installations.
  • Team Terra PaveDirt Control, BiFacial Albedo, Roads Replacement: This team is creating an eco-friendly, cost-effective road coating that controls dust and dirt on high-traffic roads near solar field installations to reduce dirt and debris on panels, which lowers energy output.
  • Team VesprSolarV-Clip: Fast, Secure, Reliable PV Panel Attachment: This team is building a solar module attachment system with a spring-based clip that locks to secure the module while providing electrical bonding and wire management capabilities, which simplifies and lowers the cost of installation.

These 10 finalists will go on to compete in the final stage of the competition, the Go! Contest. Finalists will present their technologies one last time at Go! Demo Day in July 2020. Ultimately, only two final winners will be selected, each winning $500,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers to help them bring their technology to market.

Stay tuned to see who becomes the Round 2 final winners! 

Join Us for Virtual Set! Demo Day

March 25, 2020, 5:19 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

The American-Made Solar Prize Round 2 teams have been working hard over the past few months preparing to pitch their technology at Set! Demo Day. Due to current social distancing guidance, original plans to host a live event with Carnegie Mellon University at CMU Energy Week 2020 have shifted to incorporate virtual presentations.

The new event format includes:

  • A video pitch from each of the 20 teams
  • A private Q&A session between each team and a panel of expert reviewers
  • A live finalist announcement, taking place on Monday, March 30, 2020.

Watch the pitch videos here!

The Solar Prize team also invites friends, family, peers, industry experts, and anyone interested in solar innovation to join the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on Monday, March 30, at 3:30 p.m. ET for the live finalist announcement. Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the Solar Office, will announce which teams advance to the final phase of competition, each earning $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers.

You won’t want to miss this exciting event—register here for the finalist announcement!

Success Story—Team Solar 20

March 23, 2020, 11:37 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge


In developing countries, there are over 1 billion people who lack electricity. Thanks to Team Solar 20, that need is being met in a novel way with their solar power system that can last for 20 years without needing to replace batteries. The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association has awarded Team Solar 20 with the Exemplary Project award for their groundbreaking innovation.

Learn more about the innovation that helped Team Solar 20 win $50,000 in the Round 2 Ready! Contest.

Success Story—Moon Shine

March 17, 2020, 6 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge


Exciting things are happening for Team Moon Shine, as they have already begun the testing and development phase for their affordable, optimized lithium solar storage solution! The team is working closely with incubator laboratories and testing facilities on their battery storage system for stationary or mobile applications powered by natural resources.

Learn more about the innovation that helped Team Moon Shine win $50,000 in the Round 2 Ready! Contest.

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