Open Innovation Challenges

American-Made Solar Prize
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Open Challenge:

American-Made Solar Prize
American-Made Solar Prize

Opportunity

The competition has three progressive stages. Winners of each stage will be awarded cash prizes and support from national laboratories, startup accelerators, investors, manufacturers and other industry leaders who are part of the American-Made Solar Network. Details of the competition are outlined below.

Who Should Apply

Entrepreneurial individuals or teams as well as researchers in academic or industrial settings who are based or legally residing in the U.S. and have disruptive solutions targeting critical problems in the solar industry.

Specifications

Background

Compared to other renewable energy sources, solar energy has advantages like cheaper upfront cost, looser siting requirements, few moving parts in the assembly, and minimal O&M cost. By the end of September 2019, the US had deployed over 2 million solar PV systems, totaling about 71,300 MW of solar capacity, making the U.S. the second largest solar PV installer in the world. 

However, there are numerous obstacles facing the solar industry, such as solar power value deflation and grid reliability disruption. Innovation is the key to surmount these challenges. To incentivize and fund solar innovations targeting different aspects of the value chain,  the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) initiated the American-Made Solar Prize competition.

Possible Approaches 

All innovations that are relevant to the solar industry are eligible to apply. Some example topics are:

Cell/Module

  • A more efficient solar cell/module, including those with unique integration properties (e.g. BIPV / roof tile) and/or new physical characteristics (flexible substrate, larger area panelization, etc.) 
  • An innovative solar cell backsheet, encapsulant or frame material

 

Balance of System

  • A novel racking and installation material, method or design
  • An innovative design for power electronics, including inverters, micro-inverters, and optimizers

 

Capital Equipment/Manufacturing

  • A more streamlined and automated solar manufacturing process, including both individual pieces of capital equipment offering significant capex / cost / performance improvement, as well as turnkey line designs

 

Software 

  • A software solution to securely integrate PV systems to the grid 
  • A model that can accurately predict day-ahead net load

 

Others

  • A novel financial or risk management product directly applicable to US solar projects
  • A new approach to operations & maintenance and/or portfolio management

 

How To Apply

  1. Make a 90-second video describing your solution to a critical challenge related to the solar industry
  2. Answer a brief, four-question narrative and put together one slide summarizing your challenge and solution
  3. Write up a two-page technical assistance summary describing what kind of support you hope to receive from industry experts 
  4. Upload all the aforementioned materials to the application portal

 

If you need guidance on the formats and contents of the application materials, please refer to previous competitors’ submissions here.

Structure

The competition consists of three progressive stages: Ready!, Set!, and Go!.

  • After all the submissions are reviewed by judges, 20 competitors will be selected as winners of the Ready! contest. Each winner will be awarded $50,000 and advance their solutions into the Set! stage to refine them into viable proof-of-concept. 
  • 10 winners will be selected from the Set! Contest, and each winner will be awarded a $100,000 cash prize and $75,000 vouchers, which can be used to pay for product development, testing, and validation services at national laboratories and other facilities in the network. Winners at this stage will advance into the final Go! Contest to transform their proof-of-concepts into prototypes and perform pilot tests.
  • 2 teams will be selected as final winners during the Go! contest. Each winner will be awarded a $500,000 cash prize and up to $75,000 in vouchers.
Date Event Number of WinnersPrizes
July 10th, 20204th American-Made Solar Prize kickoff//
October 8th, 2020Ready! Contest winners announced 20$50,000 cash prize per winner
TBDSet! Contest winners announced 10$100,000 cash prize and
$75,000 vouchers per winner
TBDGo! Contest winners announced2$500,000 cash prize and
$75,000 vouchers per winner

More information about the contest can be found on the official American-Made Solar Prize rules document. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us

ADL Ventures is a Power Connector for NREL American Made Solar Prize and if you are an organization looking to participate as a Connector, please click here.

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