Today the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the winners of the American-Made Solar Prize Round 4, a $3 million competition designed to increase U.S. solar manufacturing competitiveness. Two winning teams each received $500,000 to advance their photovoltaic and concentrating solar-thermal power technologies: an aesthetically pleasing metal roof designed for solar panels, and an insulating material that improves solar-thermal heat collection.

“We are building an innovation engine to supercharge the clean energy revolution,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. “Now more than ever, we must support U.S. solar innovators and entrepreneurs so they can take their new solar technologies to market domestically, ultimately driving down the cost of solar.”

The Round 4 winners are: 

  • AeroShield Materials (Boston, MA) – This team is developing a flat-plate solar-thermal energy collector system that operates at more than 120 degrees Celsius with efficiencies greater than 45%. Transparent aerogel insulation enables this performance, minimizes heat loss, allows for simpler receiver design, and reduces cost. Aerogel lets light pass through but doesn’t let heat escape.
  • the r&d lab (Petaluma, CA) – This team is designing a metal residential roofing product to make solar roofs more aesthetically pleasing. It will match the color of the roof to the solar panels, increase the speed of installation, and match the lifespans of the solar and roof components.

The Round 4 winners, announced at a live event held virtually, received an additional $75,000 in technical support vouchers redeemable at the DOE’s 17 national labs and other facilities in the American-Made Network. The American-Made Network is a group of technology incubators and accelerators, investors, and industry resources that help competitors by providing technical services, access to manufacturing, and supporting private fundraising. Its mission is to empower innovators to accelerate innovative solutions that equitably transition America toward a clean energy future that benefits all Americans.

Since the Solar Prize began in 2018, DOE has launched 16 additional prize competitions, which have awarded $54 million in cash prizes to entrepreneurial innovators who have developed technologies that will transform the clean energy industry. The Solar Prize alone has supported 80 teams to date with $12 million in cash prizes and $3.6 million in technical support vouchers.

Round 5 of the Solar Prize launched in June and is actively seeking new competitors. This round has a new software track in addition to the hardware track, which had been the sole focus of previous rounds. Entrepreneurial students, researchers, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations based in the United States are encouraged to apply by October 5, 2021.  

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