Solar Data Bounty Prize Stage 1 Finalists Selected

7 Teams To Compete for Part of $1.4 Million Prize Pool

Sept. 29, 2023 | Contact media relations

On Sept. 29, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced seven Stage 1 finalists for the American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize, with each team receiving a $5,000 cash prize. The seven teams will now move on to Stage 2 to compete for part of $1.4 million in cash prizes.

In the 2021 Solar Futures Study, SETO and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that with aggressive cost reductions, supportive policies, and large-scale electrification, solar energy could account for as much as 40% of the nation’s electricity supply by 2035 and 45% by 2050. However, photovoltaic (PV) systems often involve components with complex electrical, thermal, and mechanical behavior, creating a challenging task for research and development (R&D) initiatives.

This two-stage prize aims to help bridge the gap between available performance data and commercial and academic R&D efforts seeking to improve the accuracy of PV system modeling, thus lowering the risk associated with developing and operating those assets.

Prize Process

In Stage 1, applicants submitted metadata about the time series data from a system of their choice and a minimum of one month of irradiance time series data from that same system. Teams could choose to compete in one or both of two tracks: Track A for medium-sized systems (100–5,000 kWdc) or Track B for larger systems (> 5,000 kWdc). 

Based on competitor eligibility and the data richness of each application, prize judges selected seven data sets to advance to Stage 2—four Track A teams and three Track B teams. The submitted irradiance time series data from Stage 1 are expected to be posted to a publicly available archive by the end of 2023.

Now in Stage 2, competitors will submit their complete time series data corresponding to the metadata shared in their Stage 1 submissions. Plus, teams will have the unique opportunity to join the PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative project to receive focused performance analysis from researchers at NREL. 

PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative

In 2019, NREL launched the $5.25 million PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative (PV Fleet) with support from SETO. This initiative pools data from a variety of large PV installations, creating a benchmark of cumulative performance and degradation rates for the U.S. solar fleet.

Since its creation, the NREL team has analyzed data from nearly 19,000 inverters from commercial, industrial, and utility-scale systems to identify which factors impact long-term solar PV system performance across the country, including module technology, system size, and geographical location.

In addition to analyzing the national PV fleet, the initiative provides confidential, detailed assessments of system performance to partnering PV plant owners and operators. System owners can use this information to benchmark their performance against the industry average, leveraging software tools developed by NREL and other national laboratories to better understand which factors contribute to their fleets' performance.

Stage 1 Finalists

An illustrated map of the United States with pinpoint locations of each winning team's location.

The following teams were selected as winners in Stage 1 and will be invited to compete in Stage 2.

Track A Finalists: Medium-sized Systems 

  • Island Way Technology LLC (Makawao, Hawaii)
  • Namaste Solar Electric Inc. (Denver, Colorado)
  • Silicon Ranch Corporation (Nashville, Tennessee)
  • Wexus Technologies Inc. (Colusa, California)

Track B Finalists: Large-sized Systems

  • PPL Corporation (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
  • Silicon Ranch Corporation (Nashville, Tennessee)
  • Southern Power Company (Birmingham, Alabama)

The listed locations correspond to the locations of the entities and not necessarily the PV systems.

Track A teams will compete for an $80,000 cash prize, and Track B teams will compete for a $130,000 cash prize. Runner-up prizes of $30,000 and $50,000 in each track respectively may also be awarded to eligible teams. Winners and runners-up for each track are expected to be announced in late 2023.

Follow the Solar Data Bounty Prize on HeroX to stay up to date on winner announcements and other important prize information.  

Tags: Solar