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Ready, Set, … Innovate! Round 2 of American-Made Solar Prize Celebrates Successful Competition Day

Competitors Wow During Set! Demo Day; 10 Finalists Selected

Mar. 30, 2020

finalist teams holding winning checks
The 10 finalist teams moving on in the Solar Prize Round 2 were each awarded $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers for their innovative solar solutions.

After months of hard work, the efforts of American-Made Solar Prize Round 2 teams have been rewarded at Set! Demo Day, with 10 finalist teams each winning $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers to be used at national laboratories and other partner facilities.

The American-Made Solar Prize is a $3 million competition that encourages bright minds to deliver technology innovations in the solar manufacturing space in the hopes of creating a better, more reliable, resilient solar future. Participating teams identify a critical solar manufacturing challenge, create a proof-of-concept, and secure a partner to test a prototype. 

Teams pitch their ideas at national demonstration events, known as Demo Days, where panels of experts evaluate the quality of the proposed solutions and progress made by teams during the contest period. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) administer each round of competition.

The Solar Prize competition spans three stages: the Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests. In September 2019, the Round 2 Ready! Contest concluded with 20 semifinalist teams moving on to compete in the Set! Contest.

These 20 semifinalists participated in a virtual Round 2 Set! Demo Day on Friday, March 27. Since being named semifinalists in September, teams have been working diligently to advance their innovations and create viable proofs-of-concept.

“Making it to the semifinalist stage of the competition is a tremendous achievement in itself. These 20 teams have taken innovative ideas in solar and worked to prove their viability and benefit to the U.S. solar industry,” said Prize Administrator Debbie Brodt-Giles of NREL. “Equally impressive is the determination and ingenuity of the teams as they meet the additional challenge of sharing their success and progress virtually. Their creativity and flexibility exemplify the drive and talent of these entrepreneurs.”

Prior to Set! Demo Day, teams submitted 4-minute video pitches, which were reviewed by a panel of industry experts and posted online for public view. During Set! Demo Day, each team had a 10-minute question-and-answer session with the panel of reviewers to further discuss their pitches and describe their innovations.

Each team brought extensive and unique creativity and knowledge to the table, but only 10 finalist teams could be selected to move forward in the competition. On Monday, March 30, DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office Director Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus announced the following finalist teams:

  • Team Asoleyo Architectural Solar Cells, Asoleyo Architectural Solar: This team is designing front contact patterns on solar cells for visually appealing solar surfaces.
  • Team Integrated Silicon Technologies, Continuous Silicon Wafer Production: This team is developing a low-cost manufacturing method for silicon wafers that involves melting the silicon, which floats as it solidifies, and slowly pulling a continuous, thin layer of it.
  • Team Orison Inc., Orison Energy Storage Enables Solar: This team is developing an in-home energy storage unit that plugs into a standard wall outlet and can be charged using solar energy.
  • Team Resilient Power Systems, >15kV Power Router (SST) DC Coupled Solar+Storage: This team is developing a power router to connect a medium-scale solar plant directly to the medium-voltage grid, reducing costs and eliminating equipment that is typically required.
  • Team Solpaver, SolPavers-Elegant, Invisible, Low-Cost, Safe Solar: This team is transforming the patio paver into a sunlight-permeable, high-strength, composite concrete and resin paver that produces power and eliminates the need for additional mounting hardware.
  • Team SunFlex Solar, Back-Contacted Silicon Modules at the Cost of PERC: This team is replacing high-cost copper back-sheets used in standard back-contacted silicon cells with lower-cost aluminum. 
  • Team Switched Source LLC, Phase-EQ for Distributing Solar in Communities: This team is developing a device—and software to control it—that will enable higher penetration of solar on distribution feeders without costly infrastructure upgrades.
  • Team Taka Solar, Advanced Bifacial Panel: This team is creating an integrated solar panel and mount product for flat commercial rooftops that installs four times faster and weighs half as much as traditional installations.
  • Team Terra Pave, Dirt Control, BiFacial Albedo, Roads Replacement: This team is creating an eco-friendly, cost-effective road coating that controls dust and dirt on high-traffic roads near solar field installations to reduce dirt cover on panels, which lowers energy output.
  • Team VesprSolar, V-Clip: Fast, Secure, Reliable PV Panel Attachment: This team is building a solar module attachment system with a spring-based clip that locks to secure the module while providing electrical bonding and wire management capabilities, which simplifies and lowers the cost of installation.

These 10 finalists will go on to compete in the final stage of the competition, the Go! Contest. Finalists will present their technologies one last time at Go! Demo Day in July 2020.

“I am impressed by the work our group of competitors has done,” Jones-Albertus said, “and am very excited to see how much further our finalists get with their prototypes by Go! Demo Day in July, especially through continued engagement with members of the American-Made Network, who are providing expertise and resources.”

Ultimately, only two final winners will be selected, each winning $500,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers to help them bring their technology to market.

Follow the finalists’ progress into the last stage of the competition on the Round 2 Solar Prize HeroX website. You can also stay updated on competition news and progress by following @AMCprizes on Twitter.