American-Made Solar Prize

On June 15, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) opened applications for the American-Made Solar Prize Round 6—a $4 million prize program designed to spur innovations in U.S. solar hardware and software technologies and address challenges to rapid, equitable solar energy deployment.

Entrepreneurial students, professors, small business owners, company staffers, researchers at national laboratories, or anyone else based in the United States with a potentially marketable solar technology solution are eligible to compete and can sign up on the HeroX prize platform. The deadline to apply for the Ready Contest is Oct. 6, 2022.

This challenge requires competitors to make progress quickly, form private-sector partnerships, and engage customers to bring their ideas to life. Competitors will have access to the American-Made Network to find partners and testing facilities to accelerate their progress.

DOE is interested in both hardware and software technologies. Hardware innovations should be able to be manufactured in the United States. Software innovations should help address the non-hardware costs of solar, like customer acquisition, financing, and grid integration.

Competitors will participate in three escalating challenges—the Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests—as they develop their concept from idea to product. Individually, each competitor can win up $700,000 in cash and $150,000 in technical support vouchers over the course of the three Contests.

Competitors have the opportunity in each of the Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests to also compete in the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest. Should they opt in, at each stage, the competitors will describe how their solution addresses solar market barriers faced by underserved communities and work to substantially advance their approach towards JEDI goals.

Stages of Competition

Ready! Contest: 20 winners, $50,000 each
Competitors will pitch an innovative idea that addresses a critical need in the solar industry and identify market demand for it.

Set! Contest: 10 winners, $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in vouchers each
Teams advancing to the Set! Contest will design a hardware proof of concept or a minimum viable software product.

Go! Contest: 2 winners, $500,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in vouchers each
Selected competitors will develop early-stage hardware prototypes for industry testing or customer-validated software products.

JEDI Contest (Optional): $200,000 in total cash prizes distributed to up to 10 Ready! finalists, up to 5 Set! semifinalists, and up to 2 Go! competitors. Competitors who opt into the JEDI Contest will describe how their solution addresses solar market barriers faced by underserved communities and work to substantially advance their approach towards JEDI goals as they progress through the Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests.

Additional Resources

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