American Made Solar Prize graphic.

The American-Made Solar Prize is a $5 million competition designed to support U.S. solar manufacturing and address challenges to rapid, equitable solar energy deployment by incentivizing hardware and software development. Competitors may be entrepreneurial students, professors, small-business owners, company staffers, national laboratory researchers, or anyone else based in the United States with a potentially marketable solar technology solution. This challenge requires competitors to make progress quickly, form private-sector partnerships, and secure investments to bring their ideas to life. 

On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched Round 5 of the American-Made Solar Prize with two separate tracks: a hardware track and a software track. In the first phase of the competition, entrepreneurial individuals and teams pitch an innovative idea that addresses a critical need in the solar industry and identify market demand for it. Those selected to advance to the second phase will build a minimum viable product for testing with potential customers. In the third and final phase, competitors will refine their software product and secure customers.  

In each phase of the competition, software track competitors have the option to enter the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest, for a chance to win up to $190,000 in additional cash prizes. The JEDI Contest recognizes solutions that may enable underserved communities to overcome systemic solar barriers and share in the societal benefits of solar deployment. Software track competitors can win up to $480,000 in cash and $50,000 in technical support vouchers.

On December 7, 2021, 20 software track teams were selected to advance to the next phase of the competition and receive cash prizes of $30,000. The software track semifinalists who also won the JEDI Contest at this stage each received an additional $12,500. Their concepts are grouped into five categories: finance and business models, system operations, system design, other analytical tools, and workforce development.

On April 22, 2022, 10 finalists were announced at a live, virtual event. Each team received a $60,000 cash prize and advanced to the final stage of the competition. Winners of the JEDI Contest received an additional $33,333. Their concepts are grouped into four categories: finance and business models, system operations, system design, and other analytical tools.  

American-Made Solar Prize Round 5 Finalists and Semifinalists

Finance and Business Models

Accelerating commercial solar growth for all (Finalist)
Ready! JEDI Contest winner

Location: Pasadena, CA
Project Summary:
This platform seeks to automate solar project financing for the small-and-midscale commercial sector, including facilitating the use of commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE).

Facilitating Donations of Second-Life Solar Panels
Ready! JEDI Contest winner

Location: Sheridan, WY
Project Summary: This team is building a software platform to enable a marketplace for second-hand, decommissioned solar photovoltaic modules and other solar equipment, with a specific focus on donations to underserved communities.

Solar as a Tool for Building Community Wealth
Ready! JEDI Contest winner

Location: Oakland, CA
Project Summary: This platform will support community-owned solar via a cooperative business model that allows communities to invest, build, co-own, and steward local renewable energy projects.

Solar Stewards Marketplace (Finalist)
Ready! and Set! JEDI Contest winner

Location: Atlanta, GA
Project Summary:
This team is creating a marketplace for a new type of renewable energy credit (REC) that allows corporate purchasers to buy RECs produced in underserved communities, aligning better with their corporate missions. 

The Solar Equity Platform (Finalist)
Ready! and Set! JEDI Contest winner

Location: Boston, MA
Project Summary:
This platform connects larger installations that have surplus solar generation with nonprofits and underserved consumers to enable an easy peer-to-peer credit sharing transaction.

Voluntary Carbon Reduction Through Rooftop Solar (Finalist)
Ready! and Set! JEDI Contest winner
Location: San Francisco, CA
Project Summary:
This team is building a platform to connect consumers who purchase voluntary carbon offsets with high-impact rooftop solar projects in underserved communities.

System Operations

Democratizing Photovoltaic Monitoring at Community Scale
Location: Atlanta, GA
Project Summary: This operations and maintenance tool uses artificial intelligence to analyze solar power plant data and identify deterioration, faults, and failures.

illu - Illuminate Field Word for Distributed Solar (Finalist)
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Project Summary:
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.

Merging the Real and Digital Worlds through a Cyber-Physical-Social Platform for Microgrids
Ready! JEDI Contest winner

Location: Buffalo, NY
Project Summary: This team is developing microgrid management software with a focus on the human element. This software will enable underserved and indigenous communities to monitor and interact with their solar systems to meet financial and quality-of-life goals.

Solarcast and Solarcheck (SC2)
Location: San Antonio, TX
Project Summary: This team is developing a solar forecasting tool that uses energy production data from inverters and other data feeds to improve intraday solar forecasting and plant performance.

SolarGrade: Elevated Asset Care (Finalist)
Location: Carlsbad, CA
Project Summary:
This team is building a workflow management platform to facilitate inspection, operations, and maintenance of PV systems leveraging field technician inputs and data analytics.

Solar Forecasting with Machine Learning (Finalist)
Location: Honolulu, HI
Project Summary:
This team is creating day-ahead probabilistic solar irradiance forecasts leveraging recent advances in satellite imagery and advanced machine learning algorithms.

System Design

Sandbox Agrivoltaics: Design and Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture + Photovoltaic Design (Finalist)
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Project Summary:
This team is building software to help design agrivoltaic projects, with a focus on simulating the microclimates under solar modules and predicting crop growth yields.

Solar River: Covering and Powering Canals with Solar
Location: Bisbee, AZ
Project Summary: This team is developing a software solution to automate and optimize the engineering and design of solar systems sited over irrigation canals.

SolarSpace: Optimize Site and Construction (Finalist)
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Project Summary:
This team is developing geospatial software to optimally site utility-scale solar and avoid challenging terrain, helping to avoid costly discoveries that can come in later stages of project development.

Other Analytical Tools

Artificial Intelligence Power Management and Sizing Software Packages
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Project Summary: This team is developing an artificial intelligence power management software platform to help size and operate solar systems with energy storage.

Building Climate Sustainable Solar Energy Future
Location: Fremont, CA
Project Summary: This team is developing a tool that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict weather patterns at any location and on any timescale to help utilities with system planning and operations.

Automated Diagnostics of PV Module Health (Finalist)
Location: Orlando, FL
Project Summary:
This team is building machine vision software to process electroluminescence (EL) imagery and automatically identify PV defects with application to both PV module manufacturing and PV plant maintenance.

SolarSpace E-Management Platform
Location: Tucson, AZ
Project Summary: This team is developing a software platform to optimize tracking for concentrating solar power (CSP) systems. The platform utilizes machine learning algorithms and works with different types of hardware.

Workforce Development

ECademy - Online School to Train Solar Installers
Ready! JEDI Contest winner

Location: Baltimore, MD
Project Summary: This team is developing a workforce training platform with a focus on candidates from underserved groups or communities that includes curriculum, certifications, and an income-sharing model to help with up-front training costs.

Timeline

  • The Ready! Contest opened on June 15, 2021. Semifinalists were announced December 7, 2021.
  • The Set! Contest opened December 7, 2021. Finalists were announced April 22, 2022. 
  • The Go! Contest opened April 22, 2022. The winners will be determined at the final demo day in September 2022.

Learn More

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