Author: DOE Staff                   Published: 3/24/2022            SETO

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Solar Energy Technologies Office

American-Made Shine On Awards


Shine On Awards Will Recognize Communications Campaigns that Demonstrate Excellence in Outreach to Diverse Audiences

WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the launch of a new award program to recognize solar industry communications campaigns that reach underrepresented audiences and have the potential to increase the diversity of solar adopters and the solar workforce. The American-Made Shine On Awards for Inclusive Solar Outreach (Shine On Awards) will support DOE efforts to expand the equitable adoption of solar energy, especially in underrepresented communities, and to increase the diversity of the solar workforce.

Transitioning to solar energy can help households across the country save money on their electricity bills, reduce their environmental impact, and improve resilience, if paired with storage. Millions of Americans have experienced the benefits of solar, but many households have been left out because of lack of funds or low credit scores, language barriers, or lack of awareness. Adoption of solar, including residential and community solar, can reduce energy burden for individuals, especially those in frontline and disadvantaged communities. Energy burden is a primary metric to measure energy insecurity.

“To meet the Administration’s goals to rapidly scale up the deployment of solar energy, we must make a concerted effort to expand outreach to broaden the profile of solar adopters,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. “We are excited to recognize creative solar communications campaigns that reflect the diversity of the American people.”

The Shine On Awards will gather best practices in engaging diverse or underrepresented communities through communications campaigns. To share knowledge of best practices throughout the solar industry, award winners will present their campaigns and successful outreach tactics at a public webinar.

“If we want to increase solar accessibility, we need to look at the communication campaigns and programs that are already helping more Americans experience the cost-saving benefits of solar energy,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “The U.S. Department of Energy’s Shine On Awards will recognize the outstanding work solar companies are doing to improve solar accessibility and increase the diversity of its customer base. We look forward to seeing the lessons learned and the innovative ways solar companies are doing their part to reach more Americans.”

Competitors may apply for consideration in the following categories:

  • Residential solar adoption
  • Community solar subscription
  • Solar co-op subscription
  • Utility-scale solar community engagement
  • Workforce recruitment and/or retention

Participants will submit materials in the form of a brief that outlines the background, objectives, methods, and results of the campaign. Leaders in public relations, community-based organizations, and environmental justice organizations will judge entries on criteria including visual design and accessibility standards.

Submissions are due June 10, 2022. Non-profit organizations, academic institutions, members of the solar industry, and nonfederal government entities are encouraged to apply and submit materials from campaigns that ran in 2021. Read the competition’s official rules for details on submission and participant eligibility.

The award is part of the American-Made Challenges, which incentivize the nation’s entrepreneurs to strengthen American leadership in energy innovation.

The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Solar Energy Technologies Office is partnering with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to administer the Shine On Awards.