We are the official NABCEP PVA training partner of the

2022 NABCEP CE Conference!

Solar District Cup Required Training


Instructor: Joseph Simon

Subjects: Solar: Energy Finance, Solar: Batteries and Storage, Solar: Marketing and Sales, Solar: Business Growth

856 students are interested in this course


Welcome, Solar District Cup teams! We are proud to partner with the U.S. Department of Energy to offer this training course. If you are a member of one of the teams participating in the Solar District Cup 2021, please enroll in this course by clicking the blue "Start Learning Now" button.

This training course is restricted to approved team members and advisors only. If you have not yet been added to a team, please contact solardistrictcup@nrel.gov.

The Solar District Cup challenges multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district. These systems integrate solar, storage, and other distributed energy capabilities across mixed-use districts, or groups of buildings served by a common electrical distribution feeder. The competition engages students across the engineering, urban planning, and finance disciplines to reimagine how energy is generated, managed, and used in a district.

Teams compete in one of multiple divisions, each structured around a distinct district use case. A winner is selected for each division, based on the quality of their solar energy system design. The strongest designs provide the highest offset of annual energy and greatest financial savings. This is determined by a techno-economic analysis conducted by students and evaluated by judges. The goal is to design, model, and present the most reliable, resilient, and cost-effective system possible.

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Flexible Online Training for Industry Professionals

This online course is self-paced. You can begin instantly upon enrollment.

Access Information and Build Your Training Library

After enrolling, the course materials will remain in your account and be accessible 12 months (1 year) after enrollment. Access can be extended beyond 1 year with a monthly membership. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world.

Earn A Certificate of Completion

When you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our LinkedIn integration.

Earn Continuing Education Credits

Approved for: Professional Development Contact Hours.


Joseph Simon

Solar District Cup Organizers, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Course Outline

Welcome - Orientation Materials

This is a free course. We take pride in our free courses, but keep in mind that this is only a taste of what we do in a full HeatSpring course. The course discussion board is a great place to interact with other students and ask questions. You can get started immediately after you enroll and the course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after enrollment.

  • Introduction to HeatSpring (Video - 01:25 minutes) Preview
  • Required Baseline Knowledge Check (REQUIRED FOR ALL STUDENTS)) (Quiz)
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile (Text)
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board (Text)
Module 1 - Solar District Cup Specific Training (Required)

In this module, find training sessions developed by the staff at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory specifically for the Solar District Cup. At least 3 members of each team are expected to watch these training modules.

  • Lesson 1: Warm-up Workshop (Video - 02:21:36 hours)
  • Lesson 2: Conceptual System Design Training - Dr. Andy Walker (NREL) (Video - 54:22 minutes)
  • Lesson 2: Conceptual System Design Training - Dr. Andy Walker (NREL) (Download .pdf)
  • Lesson 3: Distribution System Impact Analysis Training - Dr. Aadil Latif (NREL) (Video - 29:09 minutes)
  • Lesson 3: Distribution System Impact Analysis Training - Dr. Aadil Latif (NREL) (Download .pdf)
  • Lesson 4: Solar Project Finance - Travis Lowder (NREL) (Video - 27:28 minutes)
  • Lesson 4: Solar Project Finance - Travis Lowder (NREL) (Download .pdf)
  • Lesson 5: Development Plan Training - Megan Day (NREL) (Video - 17:19 minutes)
  • Lesson 5: Development Plan - Megan Day (NREL) (PDF) (Download .pdf)
  • Solar District Cup Template Financial Model (Download .xlsb)
Module 2 - Solar District Cup Key Resources

  • Aurora Solar Demo for Solar District Cup (Video - 01:24:58 hours)
  • Getting Started in Aurora Guide (Download .pdf)
  • Financial Analysis Spreadsheet Introduction (Video - 01:03:48 hours)
  • Solar District Cup: REopt Lite Training Modules (Resource)
  • Solar District Cup System Advisor Model (SAM) Training (NREL: Nate Blair) (Video - 01:08:40 hours)
  • Solar District Cup: Solar and Agriculture Together: Agrivoltaics (NREL: Jordan Macknick) (Video - 28:45 minutes)
  • Importance and Approach to Distribution System Impact Analysis and OpenDSS (Video - 01:13:40 hours)
  • What Makes a Good Solar Proposal with David Ganske (Video - 52:24 minutes)
  • Getting Started in Aurora Guide (Download .pdf)
Feedback and Additional Resources

This is our last module but you still have access to the all of course materials for 12 months (1 year), so keep working and you'll be able to complete the course at your own pace. After your year of access expires you can optionally extend access with a HeatSpring Membership. Enjoy the course and keep in touch!

  • Final Knowledge Check (DO THIS LAST: REQUIRED) (Quiz)
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey (Survey)
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate (Certificate)