SunShot Prize: The Race to 7-Day Solar

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Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, the SunShot Prize: Race to 7-Day Solar aimed to motivate local governments, communities, solar companies, and electric utilities to collaborate towards improving the “going solar” experience from permit to plug-in for all Americans. This competition offered up to $10 million in cash awards to the teams that added process certainty and reduced the permit to plug-in time from current durations to a swift seven days for small photovoltaic (PV) systems (≤100 kW) or seven weeks for large systems (≤1 MW). 

Challenge Rules and Prizes

To win prizes, from September 2015 to March 2017, each team had to efficiently install a number of PV systems that aggregated to a minimum of 10 MW for the small system contest or 15 MW for the large system contest.

At the beginning of the contest, the Solar Energy Technologies Office awarded up to $100,000 in cash prizes to the top teams selected to participate in the competition and improve their practices. Participating teams accumulated points throughout the competition and were scored on the replicability of their work and the time performance metrics set out in the challenge rules.

At the end of the competition, teams with highest total points above a minimum threshold were eligible to win total of $8 million in grand prizes. The first place and second place grand prizes were $3 million and $1 million in each of the two contests. Learn more about the prizes. 

Teams

Five teams were selected to participate in the SunShot Prize: Race to 7-Day Solar contest –Northern and Central California SunShot Alliance, Sunrun, The Solar Auditor, The Connecticut Permit to Plug-in Team, and Midwestern SolarLearn more about how each team planned to dramatically reduce the time it takes for consumers to “go solar.”

Competition Results

In the summer of 2016 three teams—Northern and Central California SunShot Alliance, Sunrun, and the Connecticut Permit to Plug-in Challenge—reached a major milestone in the competition and were each awarded $100,000 in seed prizes and received the title “SunShot Prize Change Champion.” 

At the end of the period of performance, teams were invited to submit their final performance data for grand prize eligibility. The Northern and Central California SunShot Alliance and the Connecticut Permit to Plug-in Challenge teams submitted the required performance data records for evaluation by the Energy Department. 

To win the grand prize, teams needed to get a minimum of 2,250 points and complete 85% of its total installed capacity in 56 days or less. Based on the data provided, the Northern and Central California SunShot Alliance and the Connecticut Permit to Plug-in Challenge were close to the minimum threshold but were ­­not eligible to receive grand prizes.

For their impressive results and continued efforts to reduce permit to plug-in times, the Northern and Central California SunShot Alliance and Connecticut Greenbank teams were given an award of distin­­ction at Solar Power International 2017. 


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