The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the Class of 2020-21 winners of the Solar District Cup, a competition that challenges college students to integrate solar, storage, and other technologies to power a group of buildings with the same electrical distribution feeder, known as a district. DOE also announced the launch of next round of the competition, which will begin in September.
Through the Solar District Cup, DOE helps to prepare students with different academic expertise, including engineering, urban planning, and finance, for careers in energy. The competition engages students across disciplines to help bridge skill gaps in the workforce and connects them with job opportunities through industry partnerships. One-third of U.S. solar companies have reported difficulty in hiring qualified workers. This competition works to prepare the next generation of energy workers.
“These students are part of the clean energy future this nation is counting on,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Kelly Speakes-Backman. “When these talented, diverse students enter the workforce, their ingenuity and skill will contribute to lower electricity costs, expanding solar energy deployment for more Americans, and the decarbonization of our energy infrastructure and economy.”
Twenty-nine finalists from 28 schools created designs and financial models for systems that integrated solar, storage, demand response, and other distributed technologies for their assigned district, which was one of three college campuses. Teams competed based on the techno-economic analysis that provides the highest offset of annual energy and power.
They presented their projects to an expert panel during a live showcase on April 25. EERE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power Alejandro Moreno announced three winners whose systems were the most economical for the buildings and demonstrated the highest offset of annual energy consumption. The winners are:
District: City of Denver – Auraria Higher Education Center
- First place: University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus
- Second place: Georgia Institute of Technology
- Third place: The Ohio State University
District: University of Central Florida
- First place: University of Colorado, Boulder
- Second place: University of California, Irvine
- Third place: University of Toledo
District: University of Nebraska – Lincoln
- First place: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- Second place: Boise State University
- Third place: Illinois State University
From among the three winners, an audience of peers, faculty, and solar industry representatives voted for a champion. Speakes-Backman announced the audience selected the University of Colorado, Boulder.
The next round of the competition has launched. Student teams can apply to join on HeroX until September.