The Energy Department (DOE) on Wednesday announced a $3 million prize competition to re-energize innovation in U.S. solar manufacturing.
The American Made Solar Prize will incentivize the nation’s entrepreneurs to develop new processes and products that will re-assert American leadership in the solar marketplace, DOE says. The competition is intended to lower barriers American innovators face in reaching manufacturing scale by accelerating the cycles of learning, while helping to create partnerships that connect entrepreneurs to the private sector and the network of DOE’s national laboratories.
“The United States possesses the talent, expertise, and vision to surpass the rest of the world in solar technologies and forge a new solar energy landscape around the globe,” said Energy Secretary Rick Perry. “The American Made Solar Prize will galvanize our country’s entrepreneurs, allow them to utilize technologies and innovations developed through DOE’s early-stage research and development, and, ultimately, bring new American-made products to market.”
The department says the solar prize brings together America’s research base with an entrepreneurial support system consisting of universities, energy incubators, and DOE’s 17 national laboratories to create a portfolio of innovations primed for private investment and commercial scale up. The prize will connect stakeholders in a process that opens the full panorama of next-generation solar technologies that are needed by private industry, as well as amplify opportunities for revolutionary innovations to be tested that could potentially obsolete the status quo.
DOE hopes the newly formed network will leverage cutting-edge technologies and facilities, such as small-batch prototyping to speed cycles of innovation. Testing and development capabilities of DOE’s national labs will put the foremost research expertise and analytic tools at the fingertips of U.S. entrepreneurs, and deliver immediate insights that improve research prioritization. The program will also catalyze early and ongoing connections with both corporate and venture capital sources, which is key to bringing the crucial investment and financial instruments needed in the later stages of commercial scaling.