Department of Energy puts $3 million into contest to boost solar manufacturing

department of energy contest

Amid rumors of a wild nuclear bailout plan, the Department of Energy isn’t totally forgetting about solar, launching the American-Made Solar Prize competition to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing. The program will support entrepreneurs as they develop transformative ideas into concepts and then into early-stage prototypes ready for industry testing.

Entrepreneurial individuals and teams will compete through a series of three successive prize contests designed to develop new products to be made in America. Competitors will have access to mentoring and other supportive resources through a network of national labs, incubators, investors, and industry experts.

“We share this administration’s desire for strong American solar manufacturing, and this prize competition is a good way to spur innovative ideas,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “The U.S. solar industry is a leader in entrepreneurship and ingenuity, and we support efforts like these that can pave the way to competitiveness for American companies.”

RELATED: Nominate a solar project for our Project of the Year awards

How to win

To win the final prize, participants must identify an impactful solution that addresses critical challenges related to American solar competitiveness, create a proof of concept, and secure a committed partner to test a prototype. Competitors will also participate in demo days, where they will pitch their idea to a team of expert reviewers, who will evaluate competitors based on the quality of their solution and the progress made during the contest period.

The $3 million in funding from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will be distributed through a series of three contests:

  • Ready! Contest (up to $50,000 prize per winner): Winners will be selected after identifying an impactful idea or solution addressing a critical need in America’s solar industry.
  • Set! Contest (up to $200,000 prize per winner): Competitors will work to substantially advance their technology solution toward a viable and promising proof of concept.
  • Go! Contest ($500,000 prize per winner): Competitors will work to substantially advance their solution from proof of concept to a refined prototype and find a partner to perform a pilot test of the prototype.

Participants in this program can be entrepreneurial individuals, representatives of a company, university students or professors, small business owners, or researchers at a national laboratory, as long as they are based in the U.S. and have the desire to bring an impactful solution to advance U.S. solar competitiveness. Competitors must submit applications HERE by Oct. 5, 2018 to participate.

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