On April 27, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the winners of the Solar District Cup, a competition that challenges teams of college students to design innovative, cost-effective distributed energy systems for a district—a group of buildings with a common electrical distribution feeder.

“These students have backgrounds in a variety of academic disciplines, and that diversity is critical to supporting America’s changing energy landscape,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons. “The Solar District Cup helps prepare these students for jobs in the solar industry.”

The teams were assigned to three districts: Ball State University (Muncie, IN), Crystal Parks (Arlington, VA), and New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM). Thirty-five finalist teams from 32 institutions developed designs and built financial models for systems that integrated solar, storage, demand response, and other distributed technologies. 

On April 26, the finalists presented their projects to a panel of expert judges in a live video conference. Deputy Assistant Secretary David Solan announced the three winners virtually on April 27. The best designs showed the highest offset of annual energy consumption and greatest financial savings for the buildings in their district while maintaining grid reliability. The winners are:

  • Florida International University for the Ball State University district use case
  • Dartmouth College for the Crystal Parks district use case
  • University of Cincinnati for the New Mexico State University district use case

Then the winners presented their designs to an audience of peers, faculty, and solar industry representatives, who voted for an Industry Choice Award winner. The audience selected the University of Cincinnati.

The 2021 Solar District Cup team registration is open from April 30 to September 29, 2020. Interested students and faculty advisers can register here.

Learn more about the Solar Energy Technologies Office HERE.

Learn more about the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy HERE.