Ed note:Nova Labs members Fred Briggs and Adam Windsor both provided write ups for awards they have won in the American-Made Solar Prize, a competition designed to accelerate and sustain American solar innovation. Congratulations! We can’t wait to see what else they can come up with to promote clean energy and get the Nova Labs name out there!
Another win for Nova Labs! Fred Briggs submitted an application for the American Made Solar Competition and won!
The concept he submitted is to develop a micro solar manufacturing system that automates the manufacturing of micro solar panels for consumer devices. This idea won him $50k as a semi-finalist prize and puts him in the race to win the second phase of the prize which is an additional $100-200k and then the final round which is another $250k. Nova Labs and Red Blue Collective were listed as connectors which means Nova Labs and Red Blue Collective will each get some cash. A big thanks to Callye Keen for reviewing the submission and giving some really solid advice!
If anyone has ideas for solar, Nova Labs would strongly suggest getting involved with this competition. They just announced the new round of funding and the barrier to entry is VERY low. All you have to do is write a short proposal that answers 4 questions, make a 1 page power point slide and make a 90 second video. This should only take you a weekend to put together and the winners get $50k with no strings attached! If you have a solar idea and want an easy $50k, here is the link to get your money: https://www.herox.com/solarprizeround3
Nova Labs member Adam Winsor is one of 20 national semi-finalists in the second round of the American-Made Solar Prize, sponsored by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). (https://www.herox.com/solarprizeround2/community)
His proposal for aesthetically pleasing, designer solar cells will now receive $50,000 in funding to develop a working prototype, with assistance from NREL’s network of researchers and industry experts.
Advances in photovoltaic energy generation have made huge gains in efficiency and affordability, but aesthetics have been an afterthought. A recent study found that up to 40% of consumers consider aesthetics to be the most important thing in deciding whether or not to install solar on their homes, the largest percentage of any single factor.
Modern solar cells are almost universally dark blue or black, overlaid with a thin rectangular grid of shiny electrical contacts. Cells are combined in a larger grid to form panels, often with frames of bare plastic or extruded metal. Mounting hardware is often utilitarian and industrial in appearance.
There is lagging adoption in the solar market because many people, who otherwise would and could install solar, do not because they think current solutions hurt their home’s appearance.
If attractive, aesthetically designed solar cells and panels were available, many consumers would be more willing to install them in high-visibility areas – not just on roofs, but in back gardens, public parks, and as a visible part of building facades. Especially beautiful designs could even be centerpieces of outdoor gathering places, and be considered desirable luxury goods.
“Instead of hiding solar cells in roofing shingles or other camouflage, My approach is to develop solar cells that are, in and of themselves, a beautiful modern material for outdoor surfaces.Adam Winsor
I believe this can be done by applying artistic design to standard solar cell manufacturing without any significant changes in underlying equipment, processes, or materials.”
Adam used Nova Lab’s laser cutters to rapidly iterate visual design prototypes of his solar tiles, by etching patterns in mirror-backed, dark blue acrylic. These prototypes featured prominently in his submission materials, and made a huge difference.
He’d like to give a special thanks to Patrick Thompson, for his help over the years in the laser lab, as well as Callye Keen for assistance and feedback on the proposal itself.
You can see his winning video submission here: https://youtu.be/7gUM4_iftIA