$3M Solar Prize Round 2 Plans to Drive Innovation in U.S. Solar Manufacturing

Second round of DOE Solar Prize invites new participants to advance solar technologies

May 28, 2019 | Contact media relations

The second round of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) American-Made Solar Prize, a $3 million competition designed to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing, is underway and seeking new participants to develop solutions capable of advancing solar technologies across the country.

Administered for DOE by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Solar Prize program supports entrepreneurs as they develop transformative technology ideas into concepts and then into early-stage prototypes ready for industry testing.

To compete in Solar Prize Round 2, entrepreneurs and teams make progress on a condensed timeline and seek private-sector partnerships and investments, priming their solutions for market success. Through the American-Made Network, competitors have access to a diverse and powerful network of experts and resources to help them develop their ideas, including support from national laboratories, energy incubators, investors, facilities, and other valuable industry partners.

Participants in Round 2 can be individuals, representatives of companies, university students or professors, small business owners, or researchers at national laboratories. Interested competitors for Round 2 should read the rules and submit applications by July 16, 2019.

During Solar Prize Round 1, more than 160 teams from across the country submitted their ideas, representing a variety of solar solutions and technologies. Twenty semifinalists from Round 1 were announced in February. Round 2 and the final stages of Round 1 will run concurrently over the next five months.

“Round 1 of the Solar Prize has been an incredible experience with novel ideas put forth by 20 semifinalists from 15 states,” said Debbie Brodt-Giles, Solar Prize Coordinator at NREL. “We can’t wait to see what great ideas for solar innovation come from teams during this new round.”

Competitors in both prize rounds will participate in demonstration days, when they will pitch their ideas. The first of these events will be in June. Five to 10 finalists from Round 1 will be chosen to compete in the last stage of competition, which will culminate in a final demo day in September.

Twenty semifinalist teams from Round 1 are actively working to design, engineer, and test their innovations for commercial scale-up, and include:

  • Team Impower Energy Corporation (IEC) is receiving mentorship from several American-Made Network members to help develop a plan for IEC’s innovation—the wireless Quick Lift Solar Photovoltaic System for the residential solar market. North Shore InnoVentures is allowing IEC to use lab space to build and test their proof-of-concept and Tucker Engineering helped with the first batch of manufacturing components.
  • Team Solar Guardian is working with Carnegie Mellon, Elemental Excelerator, and Powerhouse to develop a business model, funding ideas, and pitch coaching for a low-cost, reliable connector that prevents electrical fires in solar arrays.

The American-Made Solar Prize is part of the American-Made Challenges and is administered by NREL and funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.