Data scientist to the right of a PV field

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) is funding the American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize, a two-stage, $1.4 million prize designed to increase the accessibility of high-quality time series datasets for photovoltaic (PV) systems. These types of datasets can be used to build, train, and optimize models designed for PV system simulation, which can in turn provide more accurate performance estimates and better system designs. Improving the accuracy of PV system modeling lowers the risk of developing and operating those assets, which can attract more capital for deployment of PV power plants.

The Solar Data Bounty Prize shares a common goal with the PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative, incentivizing PV system owners to share their datasets so researchers can continue to develop and fine-tune modeling tools for solar applications.

The Prize invites owners of PV systems to submit at least five years of historical time series data at a minimum of 15-minute time resolution for one or two of their systems. On September 29, 2023 SETO announced the seven datasets that won Stage 1 of the Solar Data Bounty Prize, each receiving $5,000 and advancing to Stage 2 of the prize program. On January 9, 2024 SETO announced the five datasets that won the second and final stage of the prize. Two competitors were awarded grand prizes and three were awarded runner-up prizes. The grand prize winner for large PV systems won $130,000 while the winner for medium-size system won $80,000. Runner-up prizes were $30,000 each for medium systems and $50,000 for large systems. 

These datasets are available from the Open Energy Data Initiative (OEDI), a centralized repository of energy research data aggregated from DOE’s Programs, Offices, and National Laboratories. Register for NREL and SETO’s three-part Virtual Tutorial series in March about open-source tools and open-access solar data:

  • Part 1: Introduction to the Solar Data Bounty Prize and Data Sets - This session will include an introduction the Solar Data Bounty Prize and the data sets acquired through the prize. It will include a demonstration on how to access the data and a look ahead at the Lab tools that will be presented in Parts 2-3. [March 13, 2024]
  • Part 2: Analytics and Quality Tools - Some data obtained from the Solar Data Bounty Prize will be evaluated in demonstrations with PVAnalytics, RdTools, and Solar Data Tools. [March 19, 2024]
  • Part 3: Modeling Tools - This session will demonstrate the use of data obtained from the Solar Data Bounty Prize with modeling tools like pvlib-python and SAM. [March 21, 2024]

Overview

The American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize was open to U.S.-based PV system owners and entities authorized to share data from PV systems. These owners were invited to submit at least five years of historical time series data at a minimum of 15-minute time resolution for one or two of their systems. Submissions will be scored using a rubric to reflect data quality and quantity. Datasets collected through this prize are meant to assist commercial and academic research and development efforts seeking to improve the accuracy of PV system modeling, and thus lower the risk associated with developing and operating those assets.

The competition is comprised of two stages:

  • Stage 1: Each competitor submitted time series metadata on their system of choice along with at least one month of solar irradiance data from that system, which will be made publicly available. Teams could choose to compete in one or both of two tracks: Track A for medium-sized systems (100-5,000 kWdc) or Track B for larger systems (> 5,000 kWdc). The top competitors won $5,000 and an invitation to compete in Stage 2.
  • Stage 2: The winners from Stage 1 uploaded their time series datasets, which was analyzed by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and scored according to a pre-defined rubric. Grand prizes for winning datasets range from $80,000 to $130,000. All Stage 2 participants were invited to participate in the PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative.

The winning datasets and respective metadata will be shared on a publicly accessible database, so that researchers and other solar stakeholders can use it for model development, validation, and evaluation. Bonus prizes totaling up to $200,000 will be offered to four prize winners who agree to update their datasets with new data on an annual basis for the next six years.

Stage 1 Winners

Track A: Medium-sized Systems 

  • Island Way Technology, LLC (Makawao, Hawaii)
  • Namaste Solar Electric, Inc. (Denver, Colorado)
  • Silicon Ranch Corporation (Nashville, Tennessee)
  • Wexus Technologies Inc. (Colusa, California)

Track B: Large-sized Systems

  • PPL Corporation (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
  • Silicon Ranch Corporation (Nashville, Tennessee)
  • Southern Power Company (Birmingham, Alabama)

Stage 2 Winners

The listed locations correspond to the headquarters of the winning entities and not necessarily the PV systems.

Grand Prize Winners

  • Silicon Ranch Corporation (Nashville, Tennessee) [Track A: Medium-sized Systems]
  • Southern Power Company (Birmingham, Alabama) [Track B: Large-sized Systems]

Runner-Up Winners

  • Island Way Technology, LLC (Makawao, Hawaii) [Track A: Medium-sized Systems]
  • Wexus Technologies Inc. (Colusa, California) [Track A: Medium-sized Systems]
  • Silicon Ranch Corporation (Nashville, Tennessee) [Track B: Large-sized Systems]

Timeline

  • Stage 1
    • The competition launched on June 27, 2023.
    • An informational webinar was held on July 11, 2023. Watch the recording.
    • Stage 1 submission materials were due September 6, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET.
    • Stage 1 winners were announced on September 29, 2023.
  • Stage 2
    • Stage 2 opened October 4, 2023.
    • A technical webinar, open to Stage 1 winners, was held October 17, 2023.
    • The Stage 2 Intent-to-Compete Submission Package deadline was November 8, 2023.
    • DOE announced Stage 2 winners and runners-up on January 9, 2024.

Additional Information

The American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize is a part of the American-Made Challenges and is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.