American-Made Challenges

Solar Prize Round 3

Solar Prize Round 3

The American-Made Solar Prize is a $3 million prize competition designed to accelerate and sustain American solar innovation.
$3 million in total prizes, distributed through 3 contest stages (see rules)

Challenge Overview

Solar Prize Round 3


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
  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 $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.


Ready!Up to 20  Up to $1,000,000 distributed equally among each winner with $50,000 per winner.
Set!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.
Go!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.

Please visit the How to Compete in the American-Made Solar Prize page to view the full rules for 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.

Updates 11

Challenge Updates

Solar Prize Round 3 Ready! Contest Semifinalists Announced!

Feb. 11, 2020, 9:10 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Dear Solar Prize community,

Thank you for your submission to the American-Made Solar Prize Round 3 Ready! Contest and for your patience during the selection process. We’re excited that 20 teams have been selected as semifinalists and were announced today by the U.S. Department of Energy. These teams are being contacted by the Solar Prize Team and are eligible to advance to the Set! Contest.

Here’s a brief description of the 20 semifinalists:


  • Durable Antireflective and Self-Cleaning Glass (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Pursuit Solar - More Power, Less Hassle (Denver, NC)
  • PV WaRD (San Diego, CA)
  • Remotely Deployed Solar Arrays (Charlottesville, VA)
  • Robotics Changing the Landscape for Solar Farms (San Antonio, TX)
  • TrackerSled (Chicago, IL)
  • Transparent Polymer Barrier Films for PV (Bristol, PA)
  • Solar for Snow (Duluth, MN)
  • SolarWall Power Tower (Buffalo, NY)

Systems Integration:

  • Affordable Local Solar Storage via Utility Virtual Power Plants (Parker, TX)
  • Allbrand Solar Monitor (Detroit, MI)
  • Beyond Monitoring – Next Gen Software and Hardware (Atlanta, GA)
  • Democratizing Solar with Artificial Intelligence Energy Management (Houston, TX)
  • Embedded, Multi-Function Maximum Power Point Tracker for Smart Modules (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Evergrid: Keep Solar Flowing When the Grid Is Down (Livermore, CA)
  • Inverter Health Scan (San Jose, CA)
  • JuiceBox: Integrated Solar Electricity for Americans Transitioning out of Homelessness and Recovering from Natural Disasters (Claremont, CA)
  • Low-Cost Parallel-Connected DC Power Optimizer (Blacksburg, VA)
  • Powerfly: A Plug-and-Play Solar Monitoring Device (Berkeley, CA)
  • Simple-Assembly Storage Kit (San Antonio, TX)

Read the descriptions of the projects that won the Round 3 Ready! Contest. 

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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 120 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 

Round 3 Ready! Contest Now Closed

Dec. 12, 2019, 8 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry to the Solar Prize Round 3 Ready! Contest. Round 3 is now closed to submissions. We received many submissions and are excited to see all the creative ideas out there! 

For those who entered the Ready! Contest, please be on the lookout for peer review instructions coming this week. You will have until Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. ET to complete this mandatory part of the submission process.

We hope to announce Round 3 semifinalists in early 2020—stay tuned for the latest updates! 


Don’t Forget—Round 3 Submissions Due TOMORROW

Dec. 9, 2019, 5 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Tomorrow is your last chance to submit your innovations, ideas, and technologies to Round 3 of the Solar Prize! Submissions are due tomorrow, Dec. 10, on HeroX by 2 p.m. ET. 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, and 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!

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How Did Round 1 Winner Phase3 Photovoltaics Start?

Dec. 6, 2019, 5 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Round 1 winner Phase3 Photovoltaics had an early idea to incorporate solar panels into the building process for manufactured homes. Their team had knowledge of the manufacturing process, but they needed help understanding the market and how to pitch their innovation to investors.


See how the team advanced their product and performed critical testing and prototyping through the Solar Prize.


Not sure if your innovation is ready to compete in the Solar Prize? We say go for it! The Solar Prize is here to help move your technology toward market-readiness. You could end up winning big, just like Phase3 Photovoltaics.


Start your Round 3 submission now and submit by 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Trust Yourself—Advice for Round 3 Competitors

Dec. 5, 2019, 5 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

We asked Round 1 teams what advice they had for anyone thinking about competing in Round 3 of the Solar Prize. Finalists Ethan and Joe from Team Omnisole had some advice about trusting yourself that you won’t want to ignore. Here’s what they had to say.



Thinking about submitting your idea for Round 3 of the Solar Prize? Now’s the time to do it! Register your team now and submit your idea by Dec. 10. Trust us—you’ll be glad you did.

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