Cornell Solar District Cup Team takes third place in national competition

Image of the team's winning presentation showing their proposed solar installations

A team from Cornell Engineering was among the winners of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar District Cup, a design competition aimed at modelling optimized, distributed solar energy systems.

Competing teams worked to design integrated solar and storage systems for real-world mixed-use districts. Winning designs provided the highest annual energy offset and the greatest financial savings. 

The Cornell team from the Cornell Energy Systems Club, lead by Hannah Contreras ’21 and advised by M.Eng. Director Matt Ulinski, were tasked with designing a solar plus storage system for Crystal Parks, a section of the Crystal City neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia.

“With distribution, development, financial, and design subteams, we modeled our systems through Aurora Solar, PV SAM, RE OPT Lite, and other software,” said team member Shivanie Rambaran. Together, the various subteams modeled all aspects of the proposed system, from the interconnection of the buildings and grid, to the power purchase agreement and battery dispatch cycles, as well as permitting and legal issues of the project.

“The design team chose the equipment and layout of the system,” Rambaran explained, “then modeled and optimized it in tandem with the other subteams.”

The team delivered their presentation to industry professionals on April 26 during a live video conference event. The competition started with 61 teams and ended with first, second and third place winners for each of the three use case districts.

The Cornell Solar District Cup Team is part of the Cornell Energy Systems Club. They plan to compete again next year, and are actively seeking new members. “We are enthusiastic about engaging more of the Cornell engineering community in renewables!” Rambaran said.

The Team

Matt Ulinski (advisor)

Hannah Contreras (lead)

Sai Mallipedhi

Shivanie Rambaran 

Samay Shah

Pamela Wildstein

Michael Callender 

James Bozani

Grant Logan

Annie Yu

Nick Iannarone

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