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The Solar District Cup challenges multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district. These systems integrate solar, storage, and other technologies across mixed-use districts, or groups of buildings served by a common electrical distribution feeder. The competition engages students in the engineering, urban planning, finance, and related disciplines to reimagine how energy is generated, managed, and used in a district.

The Class of 2021 competed from April 2020 to April 2021 and started with 59 student-led teams from 57 collegiate institutions. Twenty-nine teams from 28 schools competed as finalists. The 2021 district partners were the City of Denver – Auraria Higher Education Center, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln

On April 25, 2021, the finalists presented to a panel of judges in their divisions via live video conference. On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the first-, second-, and third-place winners in each division. Following the announcement, the three first-place teams presented their projects to a public audience, who voted for the champion.

Below is a list of the Solar District Cup Class of 2020 winners in each division.

City of Denver – Auraria Higher Education Center

1st place – University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus

2nd place – Georgia Institute of Technology

3rd place – The Ohio State University

University of Central Florida

1st place – University of Colorado, Boulder

2nd place – University of California, Irvine

3rd place – University of Toledo

University of Nebraska – Lincoln

1st place – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

2nd place – Boise State University

3rd place – Illinois State University

The Solar District Cup 2021 champion is the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

Learn more about the Solar District Cup program and follow the competition for the Class of 2021 on HeroX, the competition platform.

Class of 2021 Participating and Finalist Schools

Click to expand the list of schools

Alamo Colleges District
Alfred University (finalist)
Appalachian State University (finalist)
Arizona State University (finalist—2 teams)
Boise State University (finalist)
California Polytechnic State University
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Clark Atlanta University
Columbia University
Cornell University (finalist)
East Tennessee State University (finalist)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (finalist)
Georgia Institute of Technology (finalist)
Illinois Institute of Technology (finalist)
Illinois State University (finalist)
Indiana University--Purdue University Indianapolis (finalist)
Joliet Junior College
Marquette University (finalist)
Miami University (finalist)
Navajo Technical University
NC State University
Prairie View A&M University
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (finalist)
Santa Clara University (finalist)
South Dakota State University
Stevens Institute of Technology (finalist)
Tennessee Tech University (finalist)
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Texas Tech University
The George Washington University
The Ohio State University (finalist)
The Pennsylvania State University
The University of Alabama (finalist)
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (finalist)
The University of Massachusetts Lowell (finalist)
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of Texas at Austin (finalist)
The University of Toledo (finalist)
The University of Virginia (finalist)
Triton College (finalist)
Tulane University (finalist)
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (finalist)
University of California, Irvine (finalist)
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, San Diego (finalist)
University of Colorado Boulder (finalist)
University of Kentucky - Paducah Campus
University of Maryland (finalist)
University of Michigan (finalist)
University of North Texas
University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (finalist—2 teams)
University of Southern California
University of the Virgin Islands
University of Wisconsin-Madison (finalist)
Utah State University
Yale University


  • Aurora Solar Inc. – Aurora Solar has created a one-stop, cloud-based solution to streamline the entire solar design and sales process. The company is providing complimentary accounts with access to their solar software to all competing teams for the duration of the competition, as well as customized training and hosting "office hours" sessions.
  • HeatSpring, LLC – HeatSpring has developed a platform enabling knowledge leaders to better reach knowledge seekers. Their online courses are led by industry experts and taken by professionals within solar, green building, and other clean energy industries. HeatSpring is providing a training platform and solar industry training content for use by hundreds of competing students as well as hosting "office hours" sessions with solar business experts Keith Cronin and Chris Lord.
  • Solar Power Events – Solar Power Events, owned by the Solar Energy Industry Association and Smart Electric Power Alliance, is the event group behind North America’s largest solar and storage events. The organization is providing space, promotion, and amenities to the Solar District Cup.
  • City of Denver and Auraria Higher Education Center – The City of Denver and Auraria Higher Education Center are a 2021 district use case partner.
  • University of Central Florida – The University of Central Florida is a 2021 district use case partner.
  • University of Nebraska – Lincoln – The University of Nebraska – Lincoln is a 2021 district use case partner.

Thank you to our sponsors for helping make the Solar District Cup a success.

The recognition of sponsor organizations does not constitute or imply any endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation of their messages, missions, activities, products, or programs. The U.S. Department of Energy does not monitor, control, or directly fund the activities of the identified organizations.


  • March 31, 2020 – Launch of 2021 competition
  • April 30, 2020 – Competition registration opened
  • July 2020 – Rules released
  • September 29, 2020 – Deadline for registration of participating teams
  • October 6, 2020 – Participating teams announced
  • November 19, 2020 – Deadline for receipt of Progress Deliverable Package from all participating teams
  • December 17, 2020 – Finalist teams announced
  • April 2021 – Deadline for receipt of Final Deliverable Package from finalist teams
  • April 25, 2021 – Finalists present their projects to judges and industry at an industry conference
  • April 26, 2021 – Winners announced

Learn More

This work was funded as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office FY2019-21 Lab Call through a project with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.