The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) under the US Department of Energy (DOE) has offered a prize worth $5 million under American-Made Solar Prize Round 5, all to go to support US solar manufacturing.

The prize money will be distributed as $3 million for the hardware track to solicit innovations that can be manufactured within the US. The other $2 million will be awarded for software innovations that will help address non-hardware costs of solar, as customer acquisition, financing and grid integration.

The software track also comprises an optional Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) contest worth $190,000, for software solutions that can enable underserved communities to overcome systemic solar barriers and share in societal benefits of solar deployment. It will run parallel with every phase of the competition.

The competition process will have ideas that address a critical need in the solar industry and identify a market demand for it, being pitched under phase I, followed by shortlisted candidates under phase II to design a hardware proof of concept or a minimum viable software product. Under the final phase III, candidates will develop early-stage hardware prototypes for industry testing or customer-validated software products.

Last date to submit proposals is October 5, 2021, while an informational webinar is scheduled for July 13, 2021. More details are available on DOE’s website. Final winners will be announced in September 2022.

Part of the American-Made Challenges, Solar Prize Round 5 is aimed at addressing innovative solar energy solutions for challenges facing the solar industry. The American-Made Solar Prize is directed and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and funded by the US DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office.