Washington, DC - The solar industry is booming, but not everyone has been able to benefit. That’s why the Solar in Your Community Challenge was created: to develop new business and financial models that can expand affordable solar access, including low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities, nonprofits, local and tribal governments, and faith-based organizations. More than 170 teams built and implemented a variety of models that could be sustained and widely replicated across the country.

Overall, the winning teams proposed 25.7 megawatts of solar energy projects across the country that will save 1,200 households and 18 nonprofit organizations 15% to 25% on their energy bills, on average. And the winners are…

  • Best LMI Project
    • Grand Prize ($500,000 prize): The CARE Project from Denver, Colorado, was led by the Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver.
    • Runner-Up ($200,000 prize): The Community Solar for Community Action team from Backus, Minnesota, was led by the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance.
  • Best LMI Program ($100,000 prize): The Kerrville Area Solar Partners team from Kerrville, Texas, was led by the Kerrville Public Utility Board of Texas.
  • Best Nonprofit Project ($100,000 prize): The Making Energy Work for Rural Oregon team from Portland, Oregon, was led by Sustainable Northwest.
  • Best Nonprofit Program ($100,000 prize): The Fellowship Energy team from Burlingame, California, was led by Fellowship Energy.

Learn more about their projects—and the 12 teams who were given special recognition—on our webpage.

Mass. Production: Solar Prize Demo Day in Boston

There’s more to Boston than Fenway Park and the Freedom Trail. On June 6, visitors can witness the progress of the American-Made Solar Prize finalists at a free demonstration day event hosted by Greentown Labs. Twenty semifinalists will present their solutions at the demo day, and a panel of judges will choose 5-10 finalists to win up to $200,000 as they work toward the final prize of $500,000 for two winning teams in September. Meanwhile, SETO is seeking new teams to compete in round two of the Solar Prize. Submit your ideas by July 16 for a chance to win up to $3 million in prizes.

NREL Boosts Perovskite Tandem Cell Efficiency with Chemical Compound

Perovskite solar cells work better with guanidinium thiocyanate (GuaSCN), researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have found. Adding the chemical compound to two-terminal perovskite thin-film tandem cells increased their efficiency to 23.1% from 19%, a significant breakthrough that was published in Science magazine. GuaSCN helps offset the effects of tin in lead-based perovskite, limiting defects and increasing the electricity it can generate. This improvement brings tandem perovskite solar cells closer to their theoretical maximum efficiency of more than 30%.

Easy Listening: A SETO Podcast Episode

For your next commute, download this episode of the Currents Podcast featuring SETO deputy director Becca Jones-Albertus. She not only gives an overview of SETO’s five subprograms and the recently announced $130 million funding opportunity, but she also explains how the office is working to advance innovative solar financing solutions and answers questions about the future of solar technologies.

Conscious Coupling: Sandia Software and NumFOCUS

The nonprofit NumFOCUS, which sponsors open-source research, data, and scientific computing projects, is now affiliated with the pvlib-python software developed by Sandia National Laboratories. This software is a community-supported tool that enables performance simulation for solar photovoltaic systems, and it joins the mainstay python code libraries SciPy and Statsmodels in the NumFOCUS family.