The American-Made Solar Prize is a multi-million dollar competition designed to spur innovations in U.S. solar hardware and software technologies and address challenges to rapid, equitable solar energy deployment. This challenge requires competitors to make progress quickly, form private-sector partnerships, and engage customers to bring their ideas to life.
The competition contains an optional Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest that runs parallel with every phase of the competition. Competitors have three opportunities to vie for additional cash prizes if their solution addresses solar market barriers faced by underserved communities and work to substantially advance their approach towards JEDI goals.
On June 15, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched Round 6 of the Solar Prize. In Round 6, the previously separate hardware and software tracks merged into one track for all competitors.
On December 8, 2022, 20 teams from 10 states were selected to receive $50,000 and advance to the next phase of the competition. Two teams were also selected to win the JEDI Contest and receive an additional $25,000.
On April 5, 2023, 10 teams from eight states were selected to receive $100,000 and advance to the final phase of the competition. Their concepts are grouped into the following categories: photovoltaics, systems integration, business and finance models, systems operations, and systems design. Three teams were also selected to win the JEDI Contest and equally divide an award pool of $50,000.
On September 12, 2023, two winning teams were announced at a live even at the RE+ conference. Each team received $500,000 in cash and $75,000 in vouchers to use at the National Laboratories and other qualified fabrication facilities. One of those winners was also awarded the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest prize of $50,000 for its role in expanding solar access to underserved communities.
ReJoule’s Second-Life Solar (Signal Hill, CA) – This team is developing a fast, new method for testing the health of decommissioned electric vehicle batteries and using these batteries to develop an integrated solution for storing solar power and dispatching it at peak hours. This allows for fast screening of used batteries and certification for use in grid scale storage of solar energy. JEDI Contest Winner.
Latimer Controls (Boulder, CA) – This team is developing an intelligent control software that enables utility-scale photovoltaics (PV) to provide power reliably and on demand. This will replace grid reliance on fossil fuels, drive higher profitability for PV operators, and generate revenue increases for solar asset owners with low capital cost.
Finalists and Semifinalists
Project Name: Retractable Solar Modules for Buildings and Beyond
Location: Mountain View, CA
This team is developing a retractable photovoltaic (PV) shade screen for use in greenhouses. This provides on-site energy production for the greenhouses while also providing proper shade for plant production.
Project Name: Ultra-Thin Flexible Solar PV, for More Surfaces
Location: San Diego, CA
This team is developing ultra-thin, flexible, crystalline silicon solar PV cells that can wrap around buildings and vehicles. The technology will enable low-cost installation for the vehicle-integrated PV market, offset needs for grid-charging electric vehicles, and expand access to renewable energy.
Project Name: The Beam Module: PreFab Solar for Commercial Roofs
Location: San Francisco, CA
This team is developing a prefabricated solar panel with integrated racking for commercial flat roofs. This solution will reduce costs by eliminating onsite fabrication or assembly for faster installation, design, and permitting.
Noria Energy (Finalist)
Project Name: Autonomous Cable-Free Anchoring for Floating Solar
Location: Sausalito, CA
This team is developing autonomous motors for floating solar, replacing traditional anchors and mooring systems. This simplifies installation, and reduces cost, redundant engineering for each project, and diving teams needed for installation.
Ready! JEDI Contest Winner
Project Name: Ground-Based Mounting System for Rural Solar
Location: Miami, FL
This team is developing a ground-based solar panel mounting system that can be assembled by anyone and connected by an electrician. This system is convenient for renters, rural households, and tribal areas, increasing solar adoption opportunities.
Project Name: Maximize Efficiency
Location: Las Vegas, NV
This team is developing a self-cleaning and chemically resistant nanocoating that prevents soiling of solar panels. This protection can increase panel efficiency and reduce maintenance costs.
Snow-Free Solar (Finalist)
Set! JEDI Contest Winner
Project Name: Facilitating Snow Removal from Solar Panels
Location: Toledo, OH
This team is developing a durable strip coating that is applied to the lower edge of solar panels to help shed snow. By shedding snow from panels in a quick and low-cost way, solar plants continue to operate efficiently year-round.
RUTE Foundation Systems (Finalist)
Set! JEDI Contest Winner
Project Name: Clearing the Hurdle of High-Cost Agrivoltaics
Location: Portland, OR
This team is developing a high-clearance single-axis tracker for PV systems that will be integrated into active farmland (agrivoltaics). Using raised cables to stabilize and move the panels, this technology lowers costs and uses less steel than traditional agrivoltaic racking systems.
Crack Catcher AI
Project Name: Crack Catcher AI
Location: Klamath Falls, OR
This team is developing a system of lasers and artificial intelligence (AI) to assess mechanical stress on PV cells, sensing and predicting fracturing. This will reduce defects that lead to reliability and quality issues, increase manufacturing yield, enhance long-term durability, and secure U.S. competitiveness in the PV market.
Set! JEDI Contest Winner
Project Name: Second-Life Solar
Location: Signal Hill, CA
This team is developing a fast, new method for testing the health of decommissioned electric vehicle (EV) batteries and using these batteries to develop an integrated solution for storing solar power and dispatching it at peak hours. This allows for fast screening of used batteries and certification for use in grid scale storage of solar energy.
Project Name: Grid-on-a-Chip: Accelerating Solar Interconnection
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
This team is developing a grid simulation platform that enables faster feasibility studies for interconnecting solar and other renewable energy resources to the grid. With this platform, simulations that used to take days can now be completed in minutes.
NC Solar Inverters (Finalist)
Project Name: World's Most Reliable Inverter
Location: Cary, NC
This team is developing a new, low-cost inverter that combines efficient, older technology with new control techniques to create a fully sealed inverter design that uses natural cooling. This allows for higher reliability and performance for utility-scale solar compared to other inverters on the market.
Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power
Ready! JEDI Contest Winner
Project Name: Deployable Off-grid CSP Desalination with MEDAD
Location: Honolulu, HI
This team is designing an off-grid, small-scale concentrated solar-thermal power (CSP) desalination system that harvests heat from the sun to produce fresh water. This modular, affordable, and efficient desalination system can deliver potable water to areas with freshwater shortages.
Finance and Business Models
Project Name: SolarBound Build Confidence Build Trust Build Solar
Location: Fort Collins, CO
This team is developing an online marketplace for appraising solar land value and generating portfolios for developers. This tool could increase the percentage of successful solar projects by mitigating risks for developers and customers.
Project Name: Building Grid Capacity with Data and Models
Location: Portland, ME
This team is developing a cloud-based, collaborative data and modeling platform for developers and utilities to use shared data, models, and maps to site and size solar energy projects. This software will result in faster approval times and fewer projects clogging the interconnection queue.
Project Name: Identify, Quantify, and Mitigate Hail Risk
Location: San Jose, CA
This team is developing a web-based software platform that allows solar developers and insurance companies to identify, quantify, and prevent hail damage. This enables sound financial assessments of potential risk-mitigation strategies and a rational basis for insurance prices and terms.
Latimer Controls (Finalist)
Project Name: Grid-Flexible Solar Control Software
Location: Boulder, CO
This team is developing an intelligent control software that enables utility-scale PV to provide power reliably and on demand. This will replace grid reliance on fossil fuels, drive higher profitability for PV operators, and generate revenue increases for solar asset owners with low capital cost.
Fliteworks (formerly SatAlpha) (Finalist)
Project Name: Autonomous Solar Site Monitoring
Location: New York, NY
This team is developing software to automate drone piloting of solar field aerial thermography scans. Automating this process can lower the cost of each thermal report, increase the frequency of inspections, and collect more data to improve the performance of each solar farm.
Project Name: Fast and Quality Site Origination for Developers
Location: Chicago, IL
This team is developing a utility-scale solar design platform to help solar developers identify promising solar sites. Features of this platform include site filtering, community sentiment information, and a live collaboration tool.
Project Name: LEAF Solar Design Assistant
Location: Stow, OH
This team is developing a computer-aided design plugin that automates the layout design of utility solar sites for solar engineers. This decreases the manual redrawing of strings for each project, reducing labor hours and costs.
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