American-Made Solar Prize Ideation

Great ideas and potential solutions are everywhere. Anyone can participate in the Solar Prize through the ideation process and software platform, HeroX. This is a collaborative space where challenges, knowledge, and ideas will be shared, discussed, and rated to become potentially transformational solutions.

Big challenges and ideas welcome

Innovation is often the result of a different perspective on a tough problem. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh eye, another angle, or asking an old question in a new way. Whether you’re a solar expert or a problem solver in a different field, the Solar Prize will expand the pipeline of talent driving solar energy innovation by opening it up to people with diverse experiences, skills, and perspectives.


The Solar Prize supports the ideation process by using crowdsourcing to generate and aggregate pressing technology challenges. Through an easily-accessed, publicly-available, online platform called HeroX, anyone can submit industry-relevant problem and/or opportunity statements. The community can share feedback by commenting on postings. Whether you’re a seasoned industry veteran or new to the solar scene, ideation helps bring new ideas to light.


The ideation platform will help prize competitors focus on solving the critical technical problems submitted by individuals, researchers, scientists, industry experts, and more. Competitors are encouraged to track posted problems and devise solutions in preparation for the Ready! Contest.

Ideation inspiration in partnership with national labs

Potential competitors can also use HeroX to explore and refine existing ideas, research, patents, and intellectual properties available in the U.S. and at national labs.


NREL will seed representative technology solutions from SETO-funded projects to the ideation platform including: CSP, grid integration, PV reliability, and PV-specific technologies in perovskite, silicon and III-V materials, as well as hardware and software technologies.


Another complementary online tool, Laboratory Partnering Service, is an application enabling access to leading energy experts within DOE and across the national laboratories. It delivers a host of information and access to the DOE portfolio of investable energy opportunities. This service makes it easy to identify resources and expertise and will serve as a conduit between Solar Prize investors and innovators.


The Laboratory Partnering Service also provides access to the Visual Patent Search application. This tool provides a facilitated search of more than 22,000 DOE patents. Prize competitors can search this database for opportunities to draw inspiration from, improve upon, or completely rethink solar energy innovation.

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