Washington, D.C. — Yesterday at Solar Power International, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Daniel R Simmons, announced the winners of the first round of the American-Made Solar Prize, a $3 million competition designed to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing. As part of the prize, the two winning teams each received $500,000 in cash.

“The American-Made Solar Prize brings together private sector entrepreneurship with expertise at DOE’s National Labs to foster next-level innovation in U.S. solar manufacturing,” said Assistant Secretary Simmons. “These transformative technologies will address critical needs in the U.S. solar industry, and develop impactful solutions for industry to utilize and overcome these challenges.”

The winners, Phase3 Photovoltaics and Solar Inventions, faced an expert panel of industry judges at the solar industry’s largest conference. The competitors of Round 2 and the launch of Round 3 were also announced yesterday. Competitors can advance their solar technology innovations by leveraging a network consisting of DOE National Laboratories and other resources across the country.

Round 1 Winners:

  • Phase3 Photovoltaics (Portland, OR) – Prefabricated Solar Systems: This team developed a solution that integrates solar into factory-built homes. By incorporating solar cells in the manufacturing process, the team is able to provide their solar home solution at a substantially lower cost per watt, compared with traditional installation.
  • Solar Inventions (Atlanta, GA) – Configurable Current Cell: C3: This team created a new photovoltaic cell design that can help produce a more stable and reliable solar module. The team has effectively divided the cell into multiple sections without physically breaking it. This prevents hot spots and improves efficiency and safety.

See more details and videos from the teams here.

In addition, two initiatives led by EERE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) were announced: the National Community Solar Partnership, which is aimed at expanding affordable community-solar access to every American household by 2025, and the teams participating in the new Solar District Cup.

The National Community Solar Partnership is designed to empower government entities, utilities, financiers, businesses, nonprofits, affordable-housing providers, and stakeholders to design and implement affordable solar models that meet the needs of their communities. The Partnership will provide technical assistance, tools, and information to low- and moderate-income individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and state, local, and tribal governments to increase community solar installations.

Funded by SETO and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Solar District Cup is a collegiate competition in which student teams design and model solar-plus-storage systems across multiple buildings on a local distribution network. SETO is funding The Solar District Cup as a three-year NREL project designed to prepare students to enter the solar workforce amidst a changing energy landscape.

More information on the Solar Prize winners can be found here. For more information on DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, click here.