Solar District Cup

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The Solar District Cup is a new multidisciplinary collegiate competition that challenges student teams to design and model distributed solar energy systems for multiple buildings on a local electrical distribution network. These systems will integrate solar, storage, and other distributed technologies and capabilities across mixed-use districts, or groups of buildings served by a common electrical distribution feeder, such as a campus, a development, or an urban area. The competition engages students across the engineering, urban planning, finance, and business disciplines to reimagine how energy is generated, managed, and used in a district.

Teams will compete in multiple divisions, each with a distinct district-use case and winner, based on the quality of their solar energy system design. The strongest concepts will provide the highest offset of annual energy and power, as well as financial viability, as determined by a techno-economic analysis conducted by students and evaluated by judges. The goal is to design, model, and present the most reliable, resilient, and cost-effective system possible.

Students will present their solutions to judges at a high-profile industry event, where the winners will be selected.           


The Solar District Cup prepares students to become leaders in the next generation of distributed solar energy. As competitors, students will:

  • Engage with industry leaders and industry professionals to forge mentorships and connections that will aid their transition to the solar energy workforce upon graduation
  • Incorporate real-world electricity data and energy-use constraints in the development and design of their energy systems
  • Create conceptual physical and electrical layouts, build financial models, perform data analysis, and evaluate for land use, permitting, and other regulations
  • Build experience with real-life examples of innovative, integrated renewable energy design in the marketplace
  • Compete to win a Solar District Cup division!

The competition encourages collaboration with academia and industry. The program is designed to establish public-private partnership and seeks industry co-sponsorship to enable the long-term success of the competition.


  • Spring 2019 – Competition registration opens
  • Fall 2019 – Registration closes and participating teams are announced
  • September 2019 – All-team kickoff and workshop
  • Winter 2019 – Teams submit a progress report to the competition administrators
  • End of 2019 – Finalists are announced
  • Spring 2020 – Final deliverables due to judges
  • Late Spring 2020 – Finalists present their projects at an industry event to professional judges and industry leaders


Learn more about the competition by attending the kickoff webinar on August 15, 2019, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET.

The competition rules can be found at

This work is funded as part of the SETO FY2018 Lab Call through a project with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

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