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Stylized Text: Energy Innovations Rules.

Energy Innovation is a real world design competition. It was developed to provide a full-scale photovoltaic design challenge for middle and high school students to give them an opportunity to explore the growing technology of photovoltaics.

Design and Construction

Under a teacher's or mentor's supervision, each team of 2 - 6 students is responsible for designing and building a fully operational demonstration product or artistic work that is powered by photovoltaics. The PV module or array used in this competition will enable the team to produce electricity sufficient to power many real-world stand alone photovoltaic applications. The challenge is to use the energy generated by the PV module or array effectively and creatively.

Construction requirements:

  1. Teams may use photovoltaic panels not to exceed a nameplate rating of 125 watts (middle school) or a 1,000 watt array (high school) for the competition. No extra photovoltaic modules may be added to power the design. However, high school teams are not required to use the maximum amount of power if their design requires less.
  2. Teams may not build scale models. All projects must be full-sized and fully-realized designs.
  3. An auxiliary marketing piece is to be created by the team (below).
  4. All teams must be able to discuss their designs with a panel of judges. In the event they are unable to transport their designs to the competition, the team must produce and use documents, photos, videos, schematics, energy flow charts, etc. to fully convey their project and its performance. Teams should have enough supporting materials to adequately represent their design and student construction–refer to the Judging Criteria below for what areas will need to be covered.
  5. All teams must complete the Design Abstract (Firefox users, download to edit); including a photo of the team's design, at least 10 days prior to the competition. Failure to submit a design abstract will result in a 10 point deduction from the team's Design Judging score. Forms and photos should be emailed to
  6. Safety is of the utmost importance, and relates to the purpose of your design. If your product is meant to be used outdoors (as most will be), then all wiring and components need to be suitable for outside use. Additionally, since these designs will be on display, you should take into account your project's safety around children and the general (inquisitive) public; avoid dangling wires and uncovered connections. The Education Department of the Florida Solar Energy Center will answer any electrical safety questions. Please call if you need advice.
  7. The same design may be used for more than one year, but the design must display at least a 40% change over the previous year.

Projects that are deemed unsafe will be disqualified

Construction variables:

  1. Teams may assemble their arrays and rewire them to obtain the voltage and current that they desire.
  2. Batteries may be used in the design but are not required for applications that are meant to only work during sun hours.
  3. Designs do not have to be practical or marketable by today’s standards–whimsical or forward-thinking designs are encouraged.


Design Marketing Materials

Each team is to create a marketing piece to accompany their design. The purpose of the marketing piece is to highlight the useful, creative and/or functional aspects of their project as well as the usability of photovoltaics. These can be in any format that the team chooses. Examples might include:

  • Brochure/flyer
  • Video clip/television commercial
  • Poster
  • Web page (WiFi may not be available, so plan accordingly)
  • Giveaways

These examples are not meant to be exclusive; students are encouraged to be creative. The marketing piece should be geared toward the general public.

Teams will also be judged on how well the design is marketed to the judging team. This will include the team's knowledge, verbal presentation, and salesmanship. Teams are also encouraged to interact with the public.

Competition Day

At the competition, each team will have a 'booth' space at least ten feet wide (with a 6' table if desired), in which to display their design, marketing materials or anything else they choose. These display spaces will be in a marked area outdoors. If running water, 120 volt AC power, or additional space is needed for the display, prior notice must be given.

Teams will be judged on their designs, as well as creativity, and presentation. Judges will be looking for knowledge in photovoltaic application as well as in the specific design created by the students.

Judging Criteria:

  • Design Decisions--How well does the team understand PV design? How well thought out are the design decisions? Was careful attention paid to parts selection and integration? Was proper attention paid to safety issues?
  • Construction Technique--How well did the students construct their design? Is the design durable?
  • Design Function--How well does the design function according to team specified goals?
  • Delivered Message--How well is photovoltaic technology and renewable energy represented in their project, their marketing materials and their ‘salesmanship’?
  • Creativity of Design--How creative is the design? Is it a novel or interesting solution to a problem?
  • Marketing Materials--Do the materials inspire interest or create demand for the product?

During the competition, no pets except service animals will be permitted at EnergyWhiz.
Individual students may only participate in (2) EnergyWhiz competitions as team members.

Energy Innovation Awards

The awards will be as follows (separate awards for middle and high school divisions):

  • 1st Place Design
  • 2nd Place Design
  • 3rd Place Design
  • WOW! Award