by Joy Hsieh
Recent natural disasters in the United States, from raging wildfires on the West Coast to relentless hurricanes in the East, have made it ever apparent that our relationship with the environment is changing. As a nation, we have a decision to make. We can maintain current levels of resource consumption and pollution. Alternatively, we can find smarter and more sustainable ways to use our resources.
Perhaps the energy industry itself is the most impactful industry where resources can be used more efficiently. In America, a huge amount of natural resources is consumed to produce energy. The U.S. uses approximately 17% of the world’s energy resources, despite only constituting about 4% of the world’s population. The U.S. still depends on unrenewable natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal for 80% of its power. As we resort to increasingly drastic and damaging methods of collecting these unrenewable resources from the earth, we hurt the environment. As we run out of these resources, we will hurt our economy as well.
One Key Solution is Solar
Solar energy is a powerful alternative to unrenewable energy. For instance, electricity for the whole nation could be supplied by PV panels on a mere 0.6% of the country’s total land area. Not only would a shift to solar safeguard our environment from further harm, it has huge economic potential. In the past decade, the U.S. surpassed 2 million solar PV installations and jobs in the solar industry have increased by almost 170%.
The American Made Solar Prize
To keep the nation at the forefront of the solar energy game, the U.S. Department of Energy is hosting The American-Made Solar Prize. This prize-based competition was launched “to spur solar manufacturing, develop innovative solar solutions and products, and create domestic jobs and opportunities through public-private partnerships.” Innovators can win up to $3 million in cash prizes and resources to aid the development of their technology.
Applications to the American-Made Solar Prize Round 4 are due October 8, 2020. Anyone with an idea in solar can apply today and help shape the future.
The Solar Prize is just one of many American-Made Challenges currently open. Other competitions include the Waves to Water Prize, I AM Hydro Prize, and Groundbreaking Hydro Prize. All prizes follow a tier-based prize model that “disrupts traditional thinking, and introduces, expands, and evolves what’s possible for federal agencies. Prize competitions increase the number of perspectives working to solve difficult problems, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, remove barriers to participation, and make innovation easy, fast, and agile.”
Joining the competition will not only help entrepreneurs and innovators fund their technologies, but build their connections as a part of the American-Made Network. This provides direct access to industry experts who can assist with business development, manufacturing & design, testing & validation, and more.
Larta Institute is an American-Made Challenges connector and can help you with your application and tech-to-market plans. For more information, visit www.larta.org or contact Vaishali Paliwal (Associate Director, Larta Institute Energy Practice) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on American-Made Challenges, visit americanmadechallenges.org. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=87&t=1; U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/popclock/  U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/renewable-sources/  U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, https://www.energy.gov/eere/solarpoweringamerica/solar-energy-united-states  Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), https://www.seia.org/news/united-states-surpasses-2-million-solar-installations; The Solar Foundation, https://www.thesolarfoundation.org/national/  American-Made Challenges, https://americanmadechallenges.org/solarprize/about.html  American-Made Challenges, https://americanmadechallenges.org/solarprize/about.html
Joy is a Project Management Intern for Larta Institute’s Energy Practice. She currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology from UCLA and is planning to graduate in the Spring of 2021. Upon graduation, she hopes to become a Project Management Institute (PMI) certified Program Management Professional (PMP).