Sep. 13, 2012 at 3:49 PM ET
The U.S. Department of Energy has put $10 million up for grabs for businesses that can lower the costs of installing solar panels on a roof.
The prize money is part of the agency’s SunShot Initiative which aims to make solar energy competitive with other forms of energy without the need for government subsidies by 2020.
To get a share of the cash, a team has to repeatedly show that non-hardware costs, known as the price to plug in, can be as low as $1 per watt for small-scale solar systems mounted on homes and businesses.
The $1 per watt target represents a 65 percent decrease in the so-called soft costs of solar energy systems such as permitting, licensing and connecting to the grid.
The contest comes as hardware prices for solar systems have plummeted 400 percent in the past four years, but installation costs “remain stubbornly high,” the Department of Energy explained in an announcement.
The competition is broken up into two phases and meant to attract serious competitors.
Winning teams of phase I will deploy 5,000 systems with non-hardware costs averaging $1 per watt. Phase II requires the installation of 1,000 more systems, proving business sustainability.
The competition runs through 2015. Top prize of $7 million goes to the first place winner, $2 million to second place and $1 million to third.
For more information and to register, check out the SunShot Initiative.
— via Clean Technica