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Supporting the US Energy Department’s American Made Solar Prize Competition

This blog post is part of a series of posts related to the American-Made Solar Prize. To learn more about this $3M prize competition and how to participate, visit the challenge website.

If you don’t already know, the U.S. Energy Department is running their most innovative prize program to date incentivizing the next wave of U.S. solar technology and manufacturing. The COMPETES Act gives the Energy Department the authority to run prize competitions in addition to their regular, slower, more tedious grant applications. The first competition is the American-Made Solar Prize, and EnerWise and CleanWeb San Francisco are proud to be an official partner and network Connector, helping innovators accelerate their ideas.

The American-Made Solar Prize is a $3 million prize competition that incentivizes American innovators and entrepreneurs to rapidly discover, research, iterate, and deliver new solar solutions to market. Innovators are not alone–they’ll be working with experts like EnerWise and CleanWeb San Francisco through a series of three increasingly challenging contests.

solar prize framework

Right now, competitors are submitting their business challenges and ideas in the Ideation and while it will be ongoing, competitors are submitting by October 2, 2018 to be eligible for cash prizes. The real competition is already underway with the first segment, the Ready! Contest and submissions are due October 5. Later this fall, 20-40 winners will be announced, each taking home $25,000 – $40,000.



So far, we’ve included the Solar Prize in two of our events, our July 11 State of Solar Software Innovation panel with a 10-minute introduction by Garrett Nilsen of the Energy Department

and a full 2-hour ideation and team-building meetup on July 31st which was led by Ammar Qusaibaty who also supports the Energy Department.

crowd at CleanWebSF meetup in San Francisco

In that meetup, Ammar shared more details on the program and answered questions about how the prize is administered, engaging a dozen attendees on the spot, who boldly shared their innovative ideas and received brief feedback from Ammar, and the other attendees present.

Here’s How You Can Participate:

  1. Become a Competitor: U.S.-based solar innovators, researchers, students and faculty, startups, and teams with game-changing ideas can compete in the program’s Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests.To participate in the Ready! Contest, prepare a submission package by October 5.Competitors must participate in the Ready! Contest in order to participate in the Set! and Go! Contests. Learn more.
  2. Submit Your Business Challenge: Participate in Ideation by submitting relevant business challenges competitors can solve and potential solutions competitors can explore. Learn more about Ideation.
  3. Provide Capital for Teams or the Competition: Part of our role as a Connector is to secure more capital in terms of investments and grants for our member teams’ product development and operations directly, or to raise more funds for the next round of the Solar Prize. Maybe you have a specific challenge with your PV adhesive backing and you’d like to donate $100,000 to National Renewable Energy Laboratory to sponsor prizes in that regards.



Six teams have reached out for support and feedback on their ideas.We’ll be able to support them with product and pitch feedback, intros to potential pilot partners, advisors, manufacturing vendors, and capital providers.

EnerWise, through its CleanWeb meetups and soon to be launched web property ClimateLink is able to connect innovators to its network of hundreds of sources of capital, manufacturing partners, mentors, partners for prototype validation and installation across the US. We see hundreds of presentations and startup pitches every year and so as the submission deadline approaches, we’ll provide pitch and presentation feedback as well either in person, or remotely via video.

Our competitors are currently working on projects in new materials for solar modules, operations and maintenance, forecasting software, thermal properties, and more. Whatever angle you want to take to reduce the cost of installing solar, we will help to further your idea. Contact us to learn more.