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News Release: Solar District Cup Challenges College Students to Reimagine How Energy is Generated, Managed, and Used

Competition Inspires Students to Design Reliable, Resilient, Cost-Effective Solutions for Increased Penetration of Distributed Solar Energy on a Campus or in an Urban District

May 30, 2019

Today, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced a new competition to engage college students in reimagining how energy is generated, managed, and used in a district—the U.S. Department of Energy Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition.

Funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, the Solar District Cup challenges student teams across the U.S. to design and model the most reliable, resilient, and cost-effective distributed energy system possible for campuses, urban areas, and other developments in a common electrical distribution network. It aims to inspire students to learn relevant skills, consider new career opportunities, and engage with professional industry mentors.

“The competition offers a unique opportunity for students to study synergies in solar energy, energy storage, finance, microgrids, project planning, and resiliency benefits,” said Joe Simon, program coordinator for NREL. “For students looking to enter the energy industry, understanding how all these pieces work together will prepare them to lead in the energy transition.”

The Solar District Cup encourages collaboration with academia and industry to forge mentorships and connections that can aid students’ transition to the energy workforce upon graduation.

“We’re looking forward to seeing students gain experience with integrated renewable energy design and exposure to emerging career opportunities,” said Robert J. Koester, Professor of Architecture and Director of the Center for Energy Research/Education/Service at Ball State University.

Multidisciplinary student teams will compete to win the Solar District Cup and receive national recognition for their work on real-world challenges integrating solar, storage, and other distributed technologies. Student teams from universities across the country can compete in the inaugural Solar District Cup. Teams will compete in multiple divisions, each with a distinct district-use case and winner, based on the quality of their solar energy system design. Students will present their solutions to judges at a high-profile industry event, where the winners will be selected to win a Solar District Cup division.     

The competition is now accepting team registrations through August 2019, when participating teams will be announced. Students will gather for a workshop at a major industry event in September 2019 for training, mentoring, and collaboration with peers and professionals. Ultimately, successful finalist teams will present their projects to professional judges and industry leaders in April 2020.

Learn more about the Solar District Cup and register to compete in or follow the competition and sign up for competition news.

Competition details can be found on the Solar District Cup website.

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.