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
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 $900,000 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.
Up to 20
Up to $1,000,000 distributed equally among each winner with $50,000 per winner.
Up to 10
$1,000,000 in total cash prizes and $750,000 in total vouchers. Each winner will receive a cash prize of $100,000 and up to $75,000 in vouchers.
Up to 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. 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 / up to 20 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 / up to 10 winners / up to $100,000 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 / up to 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.
Hear Round 3 winners Maxout Renewables and Wattch Inc. share their journey through the Solar Prize.
On Friday, Dec. 4, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons announced Maxout Renewables and Wattch Inc. as winners of the Solar Prize Round 3.
The two winners were chosen for substantially and rapidly advancing their solutions from proof-of-concept to refined prototypes and finding partners to perform pilot tests of the prototypes. Both Maxout Renewables and Wattch had highly disruptive and impactful ideas that addressed gaps in the solar market. Additionally, they were able to quickly advance their technologies in a matter of months.
Take a look at their journey through the competition to see where they started and how they grew:
Today, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy Daniel Simmons announced the two final winners of the Solar Prize Round 3: Maxout Renewables and Wattch Inc.
These teams were chosen for their impressive innovations that addressed critical solar energy challenges and have the potential to advance the industry. Each team won $500,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in technical support vouchers. Their technologies include:
Maxout Renewables, Livermore, CA —This team developed the Evergrid, an appliance powered by a fly-wheel that can turn a residential solar installation into a microgrid that keeps delivering power during a grid outage while the sun is shining. The Evergrid also stabilizes the home microgrid by providing power balancing capacity when appliances like refrigerators cycle on and off.
Wattch Inc., Atlanta, GA — This team developed cost-effective hardware and combined it with secure, scalable software to make a solar monitoring platform to help commercial and industrial PV plants increase operational efficiency. The platform can provide predictive maintenance schedules to decrease downtime, has a universal dashboard that lets PV fleet owners and operators observe the performance of all their systems, improve remote and automated diagnostics, and better model a plant’s lifetime energy yield.
Congratulations to these two teams for winning the Solar Prize Round 3. We are eager to see your continued impact on solar and beyond!
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 3 final winners—and Round 4 semifinalists. The announcements will happen in conjunction with the Solar Prize Demo Day and Networking Event. The networking portion of the event takes place today from 1-3 p.m. ET, with the Round 3 winner and Round 4 semifinalist announcements happening at 2 p.m. ET.
The networking event is a great opportunity for solar innovators to connect with their fellow competitors, Solar Prize alumni, Connectors, and other industry professionals. We invite anyone interested in solar to attend this event.
After a year of competing, two teams of Round 3 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. Plus, we’ll kick off the Round 4 competition by announcing the 20 semifinalist teams who will move on to compete in the Set! Contest. This is a monumental event for the Solar Prize and the future of solar energy.