menu

American-Made Challenges

 4,448

The Sunny Awards

Recognize community solar projects and programs that increase equitable access to the meaningful benefits of community solar.

This challenge is closed

stage:
Won
prize:
$100,000

This challenge is closed

more
Summary
Timeline
Updates8
Forum
Teams170
Entries
Resources
FAQ
Summary

The Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar (The Sunny Awards) is a $100,000 prize competition that will recognize community solar projects and programs that employ or develop best practices to increase equitable access to the meaningful benefits of community solar for subscribers and their communities.

Community solar is any solar project or purchasing program in which the benefits of a solar project flow to multiple customers such as individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and other groups, within a certain geographic area. Community solar projects and programs can vary significantly in their structure, implementation, and benefits they provide. The best practices of the projects and programs recognized by the Sunny Awards will provide a blueprint for community solar developers, state energy offices, utilities, and others to help achieve the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) target to power the equivalent of five million households with community solar by 2025, generating $1 billion in electricity bill savings.

Announced on July 20, 2022, by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), the Sunnys offer up to five $10,000 Sunny Awards Grand Prizes to the top teams and up to 50 additional $1,000 Sunny Finalist Awards to competitors that find effective ways to equitably deliver the specific, meaningful benefits of community solar identified by NCSP.

Overview

To apply, community solar projects and programs must be able to prove that they are providing meaningful benefits in at least one of the following primary Meaningful Benefit categories:

  • Greater Households Savings
  • Low- to moderate-income (LMI) Household Access
  • Resilience and Grid Benefits
  • Community Ownership
  • Equitable Workforce Development

Meaningful Benefit Category Special Recognition will be given to the top three competitors in each of the primary Meaningful Benefit categories above, as well as in two innovation categories: 

  • Innovation Category: Community Engagement
  • Innovation Category: Impact

Teams will nominate either a community solar project (individual community solar installations) or program (state, district, territory, or utility-run initiatives that enable, incentivize, or otherwise support the development of multiple community solar projects within a specific jurisdiction) by submitting a narrative application and a set of appropriate, complete, and verifiable supporting evidence. 

Interested participants can sign up and read the official rules on the HeroX platform

Award Stages

The Sunny Awards are a competition with three levels of recognition. Reviewers, including DOE staff and external experts, will evaluate nominations and give the following recognition and awards to top submissions.

 

Level 1: Semifinalist Recognition

Any competitor that submits appropriate, complete, and verifiable evidence that their project or program provides benefits that meet the baseline criteria for at least one award category will be recognized on the NCSP webpage and in a public announcement. This subset of competitors will advance in the prize challenge. 

 

Level 2: Sunny Finalist Awards

Up to 50 Semifinalist Recognition competitors will be selected as Sunny Finalist Awards winners by DOE reviewers and will receive a cash prize of $1,000. These competitors will advance in the prize challenge. 

 

Level 3: Sunny Grand Prize Awards

A panel of external reviewers, using a pre-determined and publicly available set of scoring guidance, will select winners for two types of Grand Prize awards: 

 

Sunny Grand Prize Award Winners: 

  • All Finalists that meet eligibility requirements across 2 or more meaningful benefit award categories will compete for a Sunny Grand Prize Award for Equitable Community Solar. 
  • Up to five projects or programs that demonstrate significant achievement in delivering meaningful benefits across multiple categories will be selected as Sunny Grand Prize Award winners and will be eligible to receive $10,000 in prize money. 

Meaningful Benefit Category Special Recognition: 

  • DOE will also present non-monetary awards to recognize up to three programs or projects in each of the meaningful benefits categories, including the two innovation categories.

Winners of both the Sunny Grand Prize Awards and Meaningful Benefit Special Recognition Awards will be publicly announced by DOE in January 2023 at the NCSP Annual Summit and will be invited to participate in a series of DOE-hosted webinars and events on community solar best practices. Winners’ best practices will also be used to develop a collection of case studies to encourage greater adoption of these practices.  


Please review the official rules for the complete submission process and instructions for participating. 

Timeline
Updates8

Challenge Updates

DOE Announces Finalists for Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar

Nov. 9, 2022, 9:09 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office announced 31 teams as finalists for The Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar. The Sunny Awards is a $100,000 prize competition that recognizes community solar projects and programs that employ or develop best practices to increase equitable access to the meaningful benefits of community solar for subscribers and their communities.

The finalists, representing community solar champions in 13 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, will each receive $1,000 in cash prizes and will move on to compete for one of five $10,000 Grand Prize awards. Grand Prize winners are expected to be announced in early 2023.

The finalists are also eligible to win special recognition awards for excellence in providing a specific meaningful benefit of community solar, which may include greater household electricity bill savings, low-to moderate-income household access, resilience and grid benefits, community ownership and wealth building, equitable workforce development, and innovation in community engagement and impact. 

Read more about the finalists and learn about the prize competition. 

The Sunny Awards is an initiative of the DOE National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP), a coalition of community solar stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every U.S. household and enable subscribers and their communities to realize its meaningful benefits.

If you have been selected as a winner, you can expect to receive an email from the Prize Administration Team (Solar.Prize@nrel.gov) with next steps for claiming your cash award! 


Today: Sunny Awards Submissions Due by 5 p.m. ET!

Oct. 7, 2022, 6 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Today is the deadline to submit your application to the Sunny Awards. Make sure your full submission is uploaded no later than 5 p.m. ET today!

 As a reminder, here’s what you need to submit: 

  • Cover page content (will be made public)
  • Narrative describing the project or program and how it delivers the community solar benefits described in this document (not to exceed 2,400 words)
  • Project photo, video, or program materials, including supporting evidence for benefits provided
  • Additional supporting documentation

Diagram

Description automatically generated

Make sure you review the rules carefully and use the submission template (optional) to complete your entry. Submissions must be in by 5 p.m. ET and we will not accept late submissions. We highly recommend uploading your submission as early as possible to avoid connectivity issues or upload delays. 

Don’t miss your chance to have your community solar project or program be recognized and earn cash awards – submit your Sunny Awards submission now! Good Luck!


Reminder: Sunny Awards Applications Due This Friday!

Oct. 5, 2022, 9:29 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

A friendly reminder that applications to the Sunny Awards are due this Friday, October 7, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern).  

If you've been thinking about submitting an application to have your community solar project or program be recognized - the time to apply is now! 

As a reminder, the Sunny Awards has three recognition tiers that your project or program could be eligible for: 

  • Semifinalist Recognition - Strong evidence + eligible in one category
    • Any competitor that meets the criteria for at least one Primary Meaningful Benefits Category will be recognized on the NCSP webpage and in a public announcement.
  • Sunny Finalist Awards - Strong evidence + eligible in one category
    • Up to 50 of the competitors selected for Semifinalist Recognition will be selected to receive a cash prize of $1,000. 
  • Sunny Grand Prize Awards - Strong evidence + eligible in at least two categories
    • Up to 5 finalist competitors will be receive $10,000 in prize money for their projects or programs that demonstrate significant achievement in best practices for delivering meaningful benefits across multiple categories.

See official rules for more details on winner recognition and requirements. If you have any questions or concerns as you complete your application, please email us anytime at   

We look forward to receiving your application by 5 p.m. (ET) this Friday! 


Final Sunny Award Applications Due This Friday!

Oct. 3, 2022, 12:23 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

This is the final week to apply for the Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar, sponsored by the National Community Solar Partnership! Applications are due this Friday, October 7, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern). Create your team and begin your application today via HeroX. 

If you missed the webinar on the Sunny Awards in August, you can also view the webinar recording and slides here (see ‘Past Events’). 

If you have any questions or concerns as you complete your application, please email us anytime at   

We look forward to receiving your application by 5 p.m. (ET) this Friday! 


Sunny Awards Informational Webinar Recording Posted!

Sept. 12, 2022, 7:34 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Hi Sunny Awards Community,

Thank you for joining us for the Sunny Awards informational webinar! The webinar recording is now available. If you couldn’t attend the webinar or would like a refresher, watch the recording for an overview of the submission requirements, scoring criteria, and more. 

Have questions? Share them in the public forum to gather feedback from the community and prize administrator. Or reach out to 

-The Sunny Awards team


Forum
Teams170
winners
Grand Prize Winner
Finalist
Beth Straight's team Beth Straight's team
2 team members
Looking for members
The Groundswell Team The Groundswell Team
3 team members
Looking for members
Solar Commons Team Solar Commons Team
4 team members
Looking for members
Citizens Energy Corp (Imperial Solar) Citizens Energy Corp (Imperial Solar)
2 team members
Looking for members
Juan Parra's team Juan Parra's team
2 team members
Looking for members
Wasif Ali Qureshi Wasif Ali Qureshi
1 team member
Looking for members
Citizens Energy Corp (Falmouth) Citizens Energy Corp (Falmouth)
1 team member
Looking for members
Radical Energetics Radical Energetics
2 team members
Looking for members
Temple Emunah Low-Income Community Solar Temple Emunah Low-Income Community Solar
1 team member
Looking for members
Illinois Solar for All Illinois Solar for All
4 team members
Looking for members
Katie Kavanaugh's team Katie Kavanaugh's team
3 team members
Looking for members
Donele Wilkins' team Donele Wilkins' team
1 team member
Looking for members
Sandra Jones's team Sandra Jones's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Tarun Girish's team Tarun Girish's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Big Sun Solar Big Sun Solar
1 team member
Looking for members
Solar One Solar One
1 team member
Looking for members
Solar for All Solar for All
6 team members
Looking for members
Tim Harvey's team Tim Harvey's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Nautilus team Nautilus team
1 team member
Looking for members
Ryan Nasto's team Ryan Nasto's team
1 team member
Looking for members
DSD Renewables DSD Renewables
1 team member
Looking for members
Kevin Fincher's team Kevin Fincher's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Katelynn Essig's team Katelynn Essig's team
2 team members
Looking for members
People Power Solar Cooperative People Power Solar Cooperative
1 team member
Looking for members
ClearPath Energy ClearPath Energy
2 team members
Looking for members
Sunwealth Power Sunwealth Power
2 team members
Looking for members
畊甫 陳's team 畊甫 陳's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Clearway Community Solar's team Clearway Community Solar's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Rebecca Rivera's team Rebecca Rivera's team
2 team members
Looking for members
Common Energy Common Energy
7 team members
Looking for members
SolarUp! SolarUp!
1 team member
Looking for members
Raphaela Hsu-Flanders's team Raphaela Hsu-Flanders's team
1 team member
Looking for members
CS2 CS2
5 team members
Looking for members
Oregon Clean Power Co-op / Solarize Rogue Oregon Clean Power Co-op / Solarize Rogue
1 team member
Looking for members
Kyle Samejima's team Kyle Samejima's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Anna Balzer's team Anna Balzer's team
1 team member
Looking for members
Entries
Resources
FAQ