New Contest Offers Cash Prizes and Business Development Support for New and Diverse Innovators

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the launch of the American-Made Solar Prize Round 7—a $4 million prize program designed to spur innovations in U.S. solar hardware and software technologies. The seventh round of the prize includes a new contest that offers additional cash prizes and business development support for new and diverse teams. This initiative helps advance a just and inclusive innovation ecosystem that will enable rapid deployment of solar energy and achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s decarbonization and Justice40 goals. 

“The American-Made Solar Prize is building a network of diverse solar innovators and entrepreneurs and helping them bring their ideas to life,” said Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “To achieve our climate goals, we need to see solar energy expand across America. I look forward to seeing the Round 7 teams’ proposed solutions to address the solar industry’s biggest challenges.”  

Since launching in 2018 as the first American-Made Challenge, the Solar Prize has awarded $19.6 million in cash prizes and other support to 140 teams, including 13 grand prize winners, over the course of six rounds. Many in this group have gone on to receive additional investments and advance transformative solutions like a platform that connects consumers who purchase voluntary carbon offsets with rooftop solar projects in high-impact communities and a hybrid inverter that enables interconnection between renewable energy resources.  

Solar Prize competitors advance through three escalating challenges as they develop their concept from idea to product. Individually, each competitor can win up to $700,000 in cash and $150,000 in technical support vouchers over the course of the three main Contests. Throughout the competition, teams can leverage the American-Made Network, a group comprised of incubators, investors, seasoned industry mentors, and DOE’s national labs that support entrepreneurs by providing technical services, access to manufacturing, and support for private fundraising. 

Competitors also have the option to participate in a Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest, designed to recognize solutions that enable underserved communities to share in the societal benefits of solar deployment. Should they opt in, at each stage, the competitors will describe how their solution addresses solar market barriers faced by underserved communities and work to substantially advance their approach to JEDI goals for the chance to win additional cash prizes from a pool of $200,000.  

New this year is the Power-Up Contest, which is designed to support and advance new and diverse teams that have compelling applications but are not selected as Ready! Contest winners. These teams will represent individuals with diverse expertise, perspectives, and experiences. DOE expects to select up to 10 teams based on their initial submission package to split a prize pool of $100,000 and receive tailored business development support to boost their viability for future competitions.  

Entrepreneurs, students, professors, small business owners, researchers at national laboratories, and other solar innovators based in the United States can apply to compete by September 27, 2023.  

The Solar Prize is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on behalf of DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.