American-Made Solar Prize Rules

From prize competitors to the American-Made Network—and the broader community that supports them—all are invited to contribute as the Solar Prize builds connections, secures investments, and advances the best ideas to shape the future of solar.

How to participate

How to ideate

Through a publicly available, online platform HeroX, the solar industry will be invited to submit industry-relevant problems and possible solutions. This platform will highlight insights from people with diverse experiences, skills, and perspectives. Anyone can participate in ideation by submitting problem and/or opportunity statements. The community can share feedback by commenting on postings. Open communication will connect stakeholders to bring new ideas to light in ways that were not previously available.

Competitors are encouraged to track posted problems and devise solutions as a basis for framing Ready! Contest submissions. Potential competitors can use the platform to explore and refine existing ideas and more.

View the prize rules for ideation

How to compete in the Ready, Set, Go! Contests

The Ready! Set! Go! Contests will fast track efforts to identify, develop, and test disruptive solutions to solar industry needs. Each stage will have a 90-day performance period when participants work to advance their solutions from idea to reality.

Contest Winners Prizes
Ready! 20 to 40 $1,000,000 distributed equally with a range of $25,000 to $50,000 in cash per winner
Set! 5 to 10 $1,000,000 in cash and $375,000 in vouchers distributed within a range of $100,000 to $200,000 in cash and $37,500 to $75,000 in vouchers per winner
Go! 2 $500,000 in cash and up to $75,000 in vouchers per winner

DOE invites anyone, individually or as a team, to compete to transform a conceptual solution into product reality.1

  1. 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 the solar industry and will then be eligible to compete in the Set! Contest and Go! Contest.2 Anyone can submit a package to compete in the Ready! Contest.3 A panel of expert judges from industry, national labs, and government will evaluate submissions.
  2. Set! Contest (up to $200,000 prize and up to $75,000 in vouchers per winner): Competitors will work to substantially advance their technology solution toward a viable and promising proof of concept. Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges after a live demo day event.
  3. Go! Contest ($500,000 prize and up to $75,000 in vouchers 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. Both winners will again be chosen by a panel of judges after a live demo day event.

View the full prize rules
1) All cash prize amounts are subject to change.
2) Winners must legally reside in the United States. Further eligibility requirements appear in the prize rules document. 3) See footnote 2.

How to connect and build the American-Made Network

The American-Made Network is comprised of national labs, incubators, investors, facilities, and seasoned industry mentors. It will link contestants with the ideas, people, resources, financing, and relevant industry expertise needed for long-term success. Members of the network can be a connector, power connector, or a facility and will be incentivized through either performance awards or vouchers.

Connectors and Power Connectors

  • Connectors and Power Connectors recruit entrepreneurs into the prize and provide the support and connections they need to win.
  • Connectors and Power Connectors can earn from a pool of $400,000 in performance payments by performing support activities such as:
    • Recruiting a diverse range of talented individuals to become contest competitors
    • Helping competitors refine their innovations, develop business plans, work with mentors, and connect with investors and industry partners;
    • Raising non-federal funding to support the Solar Prize program and its participants
    • Providing in-kind resources, tools, and facilities to accelerate competitors’ abilities to innovate and de-risk solutions
    • Connecting competitors to regional prototyping and manufacturing experts and facilities.
  • Power Connectors are Connectors who have been selected to have a more substantial role in expanding the American-Made Solar Prize. They are eligible to receive a contract with NREL valued at up to $100,000, with a supplemental $25,000 if selected to host a national demo day. Power Connectors are also eligible for cash performance awards.

View the full Connector / Power Connector Guidelines

Facilities and Vouchers

  • Facilities will provide competitors access to tools and expertise to help them develop their solutions.
  • Competitors can win a total of $150,000 in vouchers from a pool of $525,000, which can be used to develop, test, and validate competitor solutions. Register on the connect page to qualify for voucher payments.
  • Facilities help competitors develop their innovation by providing:
    • Access to hardware and software development tools
    • Access to national laboratory, university, and private laboratories
    • Expert networks and platforms for coders, designers, and others
    • Specialized facilities with additive or digital manufacturing support
    • Other testing and validation capabilities.

View the guidelines summary
Full guidelines coming soon