American-Made Challenges


Solar Prize Round 4

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

Challenge Overview

Solar Prize Round 4

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.



Challenge Guidelines

Please review the official rules  for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at



Updates 13

Challenge Updates

Round 4 Ready! Contest Now Closed

Oct. 9, 2020, 10:15 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry to the Solar Prize Round 4 Ready! Contest. Round 4 is now closed to submissions. We received many entries 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 soon. You will have until Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 11 a.m. ET to complete this mandatory part of the submission process.

We hope to announce Round 4 semifinalists in early December—stay tuned for the latest updates! 

Last Chance to Win $50K and Compete in the Solar Prize Round 4

Oct. 8, 2020, 8 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Today is your last chance to submit your innovations, ideas, and technologies to Round 4 of the Solar Prize! Submissions are due on HeroX by 3 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!

The submission process is easy. Here’s what you need:

  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).

Find the Ready! Contest submission template here.

If you experience technical difficulty uploading your submission, please reach out to the prize administrators as soon as possible. We will be closely monitoring the inbox all day to help with submission uploads. However, we do recommend submitting well before the cutoff time.

Your idea could change the solar industry as we know it, and all you have to do is apply. This is your last chance to compete for a piece of $3 million in the Solar Prize Round 4. Don’t miss out—submit your solar innovation no later than 3 p.m. ET today!

What Does it Take to Win the Solar Prize?

Oct. 6, 2020, 7:59 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

What Does it Take to Win the Solar Prize? 

Solar Prize Round 1 winners Phase3 Photovoltaics and Solar Inventions each won $650,000 during the competition. In August, Round 2 winners Resilient Power Systems and SunFlex Solar each won $650,000 for their solar innovations. Round 3 finalists have won $150,000 so far and will compete again in December in the hopes of winning another $500,000. 

But what does it take to win the Solar Prize? The Round 2 winners are talking about their journey through the competition, including what you should expect and how the prize spurs innovation:


YOU could be the next Solar Prize winner, earning $50,000 in the Ready! Contest and moving on to win bigger prizes as you continue to compete.

Think you have what it takes to win the Solar Prize Round 4? Start your Round 4 submission now and submit by 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, Oct. 8.

Did you Miss the Solar Prize Round 4 Submission Tips and Tricks Webinar? Stream Now!

Oct. 2, 2020, 2:44 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

On Oct. 1, the NREL Solar Prize team hosted a Submission Tips and Tricks Webinar, where the prize administrators provided guidance and advice for completing a successful submission. If you missed the webinar or would like to see the presentation again, you can find a recording below.

During the webinar, Power Connector Carnegie Mellon University’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation shared how they are available to support participants with your submissions. The experts at the Scott Institute can help with the following: 

  • Review question narrative responses
  • Articulate technical concepts and ideas
  • Connect you with Network members who can discuss partnership
  • Critique your project messaging and goals
  • Provide feedback on your 90-second video.

If you’d like to work with the experts at the Scott Institute on your Solar Prize Round 4 Ready! submission,

Don’t forget—the deadline to compete in Round 4 is Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. ET!

Don’t Forget—Submission Tips & Tricks Webinar is Tomorrow!

Sept. 30, 2020, 8 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

If you’re thinking about submitting an idea to the Solar Prize Round 4, we highly recommend attending tomorrow’s Submission Tips & Tricks Webinar at 2 p.m. ET. This is your last opportunity to ask the prize administrators questions about preparing your submission in a live setting.

During this webinar, the prize administrators will provide pointers around the following topics: 

  • Making your innovation stand out 
  • Answering the submission questions
  • Building a solid team
  • Finding the right Connector support
  • Recording your video.

There will also be a Q&A session at the end of the webinar, so come prepared to ask any last-minute questions before uploading your submission. 

Additionally, we will be joined by Power Connector Carnegie Mellon University’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, who is available to provide submission support. The Scott Institute can review your submission ahead of the deadline and provide useful feedback. If you’re interested in connecting with the experts at the Scott Institute for submission help, you can

Find out what you need for a successful Solar Prize submission before the deadline next week—attend the Round 4 Submission Tips and Tricks Webinar tomorrow! Register here


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