WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the winners of the American-Made Solar Prize Round 3 and the 20 semifinalist teams selected to advance to the next phase of Round 4. Through the Solar Prize, DOE works to bring hardware technology innovations to market faster and to bolster American competitiveness in solar hardware manufacturing.

“Since its launch in 2018, the Solar Prize has awarded $11 million to 80 teams to solve problems that transform the solar industry,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons. “We are excited to see what these winners will do.”

The two Round 3 winning teams will each receive a grand prize of $500,000 in cash and $75,000 in vouchers. The Round 3 winning teams are:

Maxout Renewables (Livermore, California) – This team developed an appliance powered by a fly-wheel that can turn a residential solar installation into a microgrid. This home microgrid can keep delivering power during a larger grid outage while the sun is shining.

Wattch, Inc. (Atlanta, Georgia) – This team created a solar monitoring platform to increase operational efficiency for commercial and industrial photovoltaic (PV) plants. The platform can provide predictive maintenance schedules, improve remote and automated diagnostics, and better model a plant’s lifetime energy yield.

The 20 Round 4 teams were selected from over 130 submissions and represent 12 states. They will each receive $50,000 to help turn their solar energy ideas into prototypes ready for industry testing.

Of the Round 4 projects, 15 are PV solutions, addressing challenges such as keeping modules clean, recycling components, and reducing battery degradation to improve energy storage. Three projects are concentrating solar-thermal power solutions: a nonmetal air heater that converts sunlight to heat, a liquid metal that makes mirrors more reflective, and a collector system that minimizes heat loss. Two projects aim to improve solar integration on the grid: a next-generation power electronics chip and an inverter that can keep the lights on even if the grid is down.

Over the next four months, these teams will further develop and test their solutions for up to $100,000 in cash awards, plus $75,000 in vouchers. The teams will have access to technical support and resources to help them raise private funding through the American-Made Network, which comprises the National Labs, technology incubators, accelerators, and investors. 

Read the Round 4 project descriptions here.

The American-Made Solar Prize is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is funded by Solar Energy Technologies Office in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.


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