Apply for the American-Made Solar Prize Round 8

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The American-Made Solar Prize Round 8 is a multimillion-dollar prize program designed to spur innovations in U.S. solar hardware and software technologies and address challenges to rapid, equitable solar energy deployment. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) opened applications on June 14, 2024.

Anyone based in the United States with a potentially marketable solar technology solution are eligible to compete and can sign up on the HeroX prize platform. Potential applicants include students, professors, small business owners, and researchers.

This challenge requires competitors to make progress quickly, form private-sector partnerships, and engage customers to bring their ideas to life. Competitors will have access to the American-Made Network to find partners and testing facilities to accelerate their progress.

DOE is interested in solar hardware and software technologies. Hardware innovations should be able to be manufactured in the United States. Software innovations should help address the non-hardware costs of solar, like customer acquisition, financing, and grid integration.

Competitors will participate in three escalating challenges—the Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests—as they develop their concepts from ideas to products. Individually, each competitor can win up to $700,000 in cash and $150,000 in technical support vouchers over the course of the three contests.

Competitors have the opportunity in each contest to also compete in the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest. Should they opt in, at each stage, the competitors will describe how their solutions address solar market barriers faced by underserved communities and work to substantially advance their approach toward JEDI goals.

For those who have a great idea but need a boost to take their innovation to the next level, the Solar Prize Round 8 offers the Power Up Contest. This contest is designed to support and advance new and diverse teams that have compelling applications but aren’t selected to advance to the Set! Contest. SETO expects to select up to 10 teams for the Power Up Contest based on their Ready! Contest submission packet. These teams will split a $100,000 prize pool and participate in the Power Up Program, where they will receive tailored business support.

Stages of Competition

  • Ready! Contest: 20 winners, $50,000 each. Each competitor will pitch an innovative solution that addresses a critical need in the solar industry and identify market demand for it.
  • Set! Contest: 10 winners, $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in vouchers each. Each team advancing to the Set! Contest will design a hardware proof of concept or a minimum viable software product.
  • Go! Contest: Two winners, $500,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in vouchers each. Selected competitors will develop early-stage hardware prototypes for industry testing or customer-validated software products.
  • JEDI Contest (Optional): $200,000 in total cash prizes distributed to up to 10 Ready! finalists, up to five Set! semifinalists, and up to 2 Go! Competitors.
  • Power Up Contest: $100,000 in total cash prizes distributed to up to 10 new and diverse teams with promising ideas who were not selected as Ready! Contest winners.

Competitors who opt into the JEDI Contest will describe how their solutions address solar market barriers faced by underserved communities and work to substantially advance their approach toward JEDI goals as they progress through the Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests.

Additional Resources

The American-Made Solar Prize is a part of the American-Made Challenges and is administered by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy.

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