Solar Prize Finalists Split $1M; New Collegiate Challenge

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From: DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Solar Prize Finalists Split $1M; New Collegiate Challenge


DOE Solar Office Newsletter



ENERGY.GOV - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Solar Energy Technologies Office


Top News: Inventors Advance at Prize Demo Day; Upcoming Webinar on Solar Office Priorities

Ten teams receive funding to advance their prototypes for the American-Made Solar Prize after a demo day in Boston. Team spirit across the country is on the rise with the newly launched Solar District Cup, a collegiate competition to design distributed solar energy systems. Plus, get to know the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) better through our new quarterly webinar—and apply to work with us!

These stories and more in this edition of the SETO newsletter.

Eyes on the Prize: Results of the Set! Contest

At the American-Made Solar Prize Set! Contest demonstration day on June 6, an expert panel of judges selected 10 finalists to receive $100,000 in cash and $75,000 in vouchers for use at either the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s National Labs or at the American-Made Network facilities. Now the teams will compete in the Go! Contest, the last phase of the competition. In September, the teams will pitch these prototypes at a demonstration event at Solar Power International for a chance to win $500,000 in cash and up to $75,000 in vouchers. Here are the finalists:

  • BREK Electronics (Boulder, CO) is developing silicon carbide–based composite architectures for string inverters.
  • Catalyst (Dearborn, MI) is creating a plug-in “solar appliance” that simplifies rooftop solar installation.
  • Crystal Sonic (Tempe, AZ) is using a wafering technology to reduce substrate cost and improve reusability for gallium arsenide–based solar cells.
  • Imagen (Milwaukee, WI) is introducing a compact multiport power electronics system for photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems and electric vehicles.
  • Omnisole (Worcester, MA) is developing a ballasted racking system that reduces installation time, eliminating roof penetrations, and can be used on steep roofs.
  • Phase3 Photovoltaics (Portland, OR) is designing a power integration system that enables PV systems to be integrated onto prefab and mobile homes during manufacturing.
  • Solar Guardian (Albuquerque, NM) is making a low-cost device that prevents electrical fires in PV modules.
  • Solar Inventions (Atlanta, GA) is designing a cost-effective PV cell that increases power, improves shading response, decreases hotspot risks, and produces a more reliable module.
  • Solar SEED (New York, NY) is creating voltage controller hardware to offer flexible and scalable basic energy access and emergency backup power.
  • Tandem PV (Morgan Hill, CA) is making a PV tandem solar cell prototype out of a perovskite material and silicon.

The Prize is in Round 1 now, but Round 2 of the Prize is under way. The deadline to submit your ideas for the first phase, the Ready! Contest, is July 16, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. ET. Get Prize updates on Twitter by following @AMCprizes.

Solar Prize Demo Day

Participants in the American-Made Solar Prize Round 1 Set! Contest demonstration day.

Big Break for Small Solar Businesses

Each year, the DOE’s Office of Science awards funding to technology projects through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program, designed to help companies develop high-risk, innovative technologies and commercialize them. For the 2019 program, SETO has selected 23 companies to participate in the first of three phases of this funding opportunity. Each company will receive $200,000 to study the feasibility of its project and develop a proof of concept.

Experimentation Nation: DOE National Lab Project Selections

SETO’s Lab Call FY2019–21 supports projects at the DOE National Laboratories in photovoltaics, concentrating solar-thermal power, systems integration, and market analysis. These projects will advance research and new technologies that will enable the solar industry to address critical barriers to integrating more solar onto the grid and continue to lower solar electricity costs toward SETO’s 2030 cost targets. This program also supports core capabilities, which are physical or intellectual assets unique to the labs that can help solve long-term challenges linked to the proliferation of solar.

New Solar Competition Heads to School

On May 30, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced the launch of the Solar District Cup, a new challenge in which college students design reliable, cost-effective ways to bring more solar and other distributed energy resources to districts, or any multi-use zone that uses a common electrical distribution network. Student teams across the United States will work with academics and industry partners on their designs, creating potential solar career opportunities after graduation. Registration is open through August, and the finalists will present their solutions to judges at a major industry event in April 2020.

State of the Office: A SETO Webinar

On Friday, July 26 at 1 p.m. ET, SETO will host its first quarterly webinar to discuss projects and plans across the office’s portfolio—photovoltaics, concentrating solar-thermal power, balance of systems soft costs, systems integration, and innovations in manufacturing and competitiveness—and answer questions from stakeholders like you.

Feeling social? Follow:

  • Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons on Twitter
  • DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy on Facebook
  • DOE on Twitter and on Facebook
  • SETO director Charlie Gay on LinkedIn

Shedding Light: Quarterly Solar Industry Update

SETO and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory keep track of how the solar industry changes in the United States and around the world. To keep stakeholders informed, they publish a presentation four times a year on solar deployment, manufacturing, system and component pricing, market activity, workforce, and more. According to the latest report, 22% of new U.S. electric generation capacity in 2018 came from solar installations, with 11 gigawatts of PV deployed. The report also includes installation and system pricing by state, how much the cost of inverters has fallen across the board, and the investment challenges and opportunities associated with bringing solar to economically distressed communities.

We’re Hiring!

Have we got a job for you! SETO is hiring a senior stakeholder engagement specialist (contractor) who will help communicate the office’s mission, activities, and goals, both externally and internally. The ideal candidate will have the communication skills to translate the science behind the office’s early-stage research and lead campaigns to elevate awareness of SETO’s activities. Apply!


Webinar: Up to the Challenge: Communities Deploy Solar in Underserved Markets

July 10 | 1:00 p.m. EDT

Technology manager Shubha Jaishankar will discuss the results of the Solar in Your Community Challenge with two of the winning teams and researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy 2019
July 17–19 | Philadelphia, PA
In a keynote speech, SETO deputy director Becca Jones-Albertus will discuss the future of solar energy technology innovation and opportunities for improving solar technologies at this event, which brings together decision makers, regulators, utilities, independent power providers, developers of solar-and-storage projects, investors, financiers, and other industry stakeholders.

Community Solar Power Summit
July 18–20 | Philadelphia, PA
Technology manager Kyle Fricker will give brief remarks at Community Solar: The Next Big Renewable Energy Market, which will cover topics including customer acquisition, drivers of adoption, financing, emerging markets, program design, and scaling low- or moderate-income participation.

30th International Conference on Defects in Semiconductors
July 21–26 | Seattle, WA
Becca Jones-Albertus will give a plenary talk on solar technology and how defects fit in at this conference, which focuses on point and extended defects in semiconductors, including electrical, vibrational, optical, and magnetic phenomena.

SETO in the News

Solar Photo of the Week

St. John’s Episcopal Church Solar

A 25-kilowatt solar array on the roof of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Boulder, CO. Photo by Collin Tomb. Download the photo.




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