DOE announces $5 million American-Made Solar Prize and new entrepreneurial networking tool
The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $5 million for the American Made Solar Prize Round 5, a competition designed to accelerate the commercialization of products needed for widespread equitable deployment of solar energy and domestic production. DOE also announced a new tool that connects innovators with support from DOE’s national labs, business incubators and other entrepreneurial resources in the American-Made Network to advance their technologies.
“By fueling connections between the nation’s most creative and forward-thinking entrepreneurs, its 17 national labs and the wider DOE ecosystem, universities and the private sector, we are catalyzing the best of American ingenuity and creating an innovation engine for America,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. “This is how America will decarbonize the energy sector and lead the $23 trillion global clean energy market.”
The new tool uses artificial intelligence to extend and evolve the capabilities of the American-Made Network, accelerating development cycles. This tool lowers the barrier for entrepreneurs to enter the market by matching innovators with the resources they need, exactly when they need them.
American Made Solar Prize Round 5
For the first time, the American-Made Solar Prize will feature two tracks — one for hardware innovations and one for software innovations — an acknowledgment that both are needed to move the solar industry forward. In particular, the software track will focus on empowering underserved communities to overcome systemic barriers to solar energy. To further drive this focus, competitors can win $300,000 in additional funds through a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) competition. The two tracks of the competition will focus separately on hardware and software components, with the aim of enabling more entrepreneurs to compete in the solar space.
The hardware track builds on the previous four rounds of the Solar Prize by soliciting ideas for hardware products that can be manufactured in America. Over the past four rounds, the Solar Prize has supported 80 teams with $11 million in cash prizes and $3.4 million in technical support. The Solar Prize Round 5 hardware track will support as many as 20 new teams, who will compete for prizes of up to $3 million as they advance their technologies with the support of the American-Made Network.
In the software journey, DOE looks for software concepts that help address the non-hardware costs of solar energy, such as customer acquisition, financing and network integration. Software track competitors can receive up to $2 million in prizes, leveraging advances in communications and information technologies to rethink how to solve solar energy challenges.
To expand Round 5 and the JEDI Competition, NREL is launching an Advisory Committee on Justice, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion to help attract, recruit and support a broader, more diverse group of Solar Prize applicants.
To participate in the Solar Prize, you must register before October 5.
The awards program and American-Made Network are funded by DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
For more information about the Solar Prize Round 5, Register here for an informational webinar on July 13 at 3 p.m. ET.
News item from DOE