Prize Helps Fuel Innovations Needed for Rapid Industry Growth

Solar Prize winners

Solar Prize winners with their awards.

WASHINGTON, DC – This week the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the winners of the American-Made Solar Prize Round 5, a multimillion dollar competition designed to advance hardware and software solar technologies. Two teams each received $500,000 for their early-stage hardware prototypes, two teams each received $200,000 for their software innovations, and an additional software team received $100,000 for its role in expanding solar access to underserved communities. The Solar Prize helps advance new innovations that will enable rapid deployment of solar energy and achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s decarbonization goals.

“DOE is committed to establishing U.S. leadership in solar manufacturing, and that means investing in the entrepreneurs with game-changing ideas to solve our biggest challenges,” said Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “The American-Made Solar Prize Round 5 winners are powering us closer to a clean energy future with their exciting new hardware and software technologies.”

The Round 5 winners are:

Hardware Track

  • TECSI Solar Inc.: Solvari SR, The All-in-One Residential Solar Panel (El Sobrante, California) – This team is developing a residential solar module that simplifies the ordering and installation process by combining the racking, flashing, hardware, and power electronics into a single product. TECSI’s all-in-one solar module eliminates the aluminum frame, reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the installation.
  • Origami Solar: Roll-Formed Steel Frames for Photovoltaic (PV) Modules (Bend, Oregon) – This team is developing steel PV module frames leveraging U.S.-made and formed steel. Compared to current frames made from imported aluminum, these frames lower the carbon emissions associated with making the frames and reduce PV system costs, while supporting a U.S.-based supply chain.

Software Track

  • SolarGrade: Elevated Asset Care (Carlsbad, California) – This team is building a management platform to improve inspection, operations, and maintenance of PV systems leveraging field technician inputs and data analytics.
  • illu: Illuminate Field Work for Distributed Solar (Sunnyvale, California) – This team is building a mobile and desktop tool for operations and maintenance workflow management that will assist field technicians and simplify distributed solar maintenance.
  • Midday Tech: Voluntary Carbon Reduction through Rooftop Solar (San Francisco, California) – Winner of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Prize, this team is building a platform to connect consumers who purchase voluntary carbon offsets with high-impact rooftop solar projects in underserved communities.

The winners were announced at the RE+ solar industry trade show in Anaheim, California. The teams will use their cash prizes to further develop and deploy their innovations.

Throughout three phases of competition, teams leveraged the American-Made Network, a group of DOE’s national labs, incubators, investors, and seasoned industry mentors that support entrepreneurs by providing technical services, access to manufacturing, and supporting private fundraising.

DOE launched Round 6 of the Solar Prize in June. Entrepreneurial individuals, students, professors, small business owners, researchers at national laboratories, or other solar innovators based in the United States with a potentially marketable solar technology solution can submit an application to compete by Oct. 6, 2022.

The American-Made Solar Prize is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is funded by the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office. The American-Made Solar Prize is a part of the American-Made Challenges, a continually growing portfolio of prize programs, from 16 DOE offices, with over $110 million in committed prizes, supporting a wide range of clean energy technology innovation.