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Community Energy Innovation Prize

Provide support, build trust, and strengthen partnerships with underserved communities while advancing the clean energy transition.

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prize:
$7,490,000

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Summary

Overview

The $7.49 million Community Energy Innovation Prize is the successor of two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) prizes related to community-based clean energy innovation: the Community Clean Energy Coalition Prize and the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize.   

 

The Community Energy Innovation Prize aims to support local organizations with proven track records of engaging underserved communities and/or promoting environmental, climate, and energy justice as they enact community-led climate and clean energy solutions. This expanded prize also focuses on inspiring the next generation of clean energy leaders with opportunities for college students to work with community partners and has an additional focus on fostering innovation in clean energy manufacturing ecosystems in historically underserved communities. Read the official launch announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy. 

 

Prize Structure
The Community Energy Innovation Prize is made up of three tracks: the Clean Energy Ecosystem Track, the Manufacturing Ecosystem Track, and the Collegiate Track, each of which has distinct goals and submission requirements over three phases: CONCEPT, PROGRESS, and IMPACT. In addition to prize awards, winning teams in all three tracks will receive in-kind mentorship and other support services. 

Prize Background

The prize is part of the government’s the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative—a plan to deliver 40% of climate investment benefits to disadvantaged communities and inform equitable research, development, and deployment within federal agencies. Through its three tracks, the prize will serve to inspire and mentor collegiate students; bolster grassroots community organizations; and accelerate innovation in the manufacturing sector, in alignment with a new White House strategy aimed at growing the economy, creating jobs, enhancing sustainability, strengthening supply chains, and ensuring national security.  

  

Who Can Participate?

 

Clean Energy Ecosystem and Manufacturing Ecosystem Tracks

The Clean Energy Ecosystem and Manufacturing Ecosystem Tracks are open only to private entities (for-profits and nonprofits); nonfederal government entities such as states, counties, tribes, and municipalities; academic institutions; and individuals. 

 

Collegiate Track

The Collegiate Track is now closed to new competitors. Read the official announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy and visit the Collegiate Track CONCEPT Phase results page for further details.


Guidelines

Interested in participating in the Clean Energy Ecosystem or Manufacturing Ecosystem Tracks? Please review the official rules.

Collegiate eligibility in the PROGRESS Phase is subject to the requirements detailed in the official prize rules for that track and phase.

The Community Energy Innovation Prize was established by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED), and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO). The prize is part of the American-Made family of prizes and is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or .

Timeline
Updates14

Challenge Updates

Deadline Today! 5pm Eastern Time for Both Ecosystem Tracks

Feb. 2, 2024, 8:04 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

Hello Participants,

The submission deadline for the Community Energy Innovation Prize’s Clean Energy and Manufacturing Ecosystem tracks is TODAY - Friday, February 2, at 5 PM ET. We highly recommend getting all materials submitted before then—don’t get bogged down by a network failure or long upload time and miss the deadline!

We apologize for any platform issues experienced by users in the past 12 hours. These issues have been resolved. Please let us know directly if you encounter any problems completing your submission. You can email us at CommunityEnergy@nrel.gov.

Don't forget to take advantage of the prize resources, which include: 

We look forward to your submissions!

The Community Energy Innovation Prize Administration Team


Ecosystem Tracks Deadline This Friday!

Jan. 30, 2024, 7:20 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

Don’t miss this chance to win up to $100,000 for your proposed activities related to climate and clean energy that support, build trust, and strengthen relationships and partnerships with underserved communities. The Community Energy Innovation Prize CONCEPT deadline for the Clean Energy Ecosystem Track and Manufacturing Ecosystem Track is this Friday, February 2. Submissions are due by 5:00 p.m. ET, however, we highly recommend getting all materials submitted before then—don’t get bogged down by a network failure or long upload time and miss the deadline!

Here’s what a full submission looks like:

  • Cover Page (public)
  • Summary Slide (public)
  • 3-minute Video Pitch (public)
  • Impact Plan (not public)

For more details on submission requirements, please see the official prize rules.

Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for a webinar hosted by one of the prize’s Power Connectors, CEBN, to learn more about The Department of Energy’s core missions and ongoing funding opportunities to help make your valuable ideas come to life. Register for the Navigating DOE Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiatives webinar here.

We look forward to seeing your concepts!

The Community Energy Innovation Prize Administration Team


Two Weeks Until Deadline! Clean Energy Ecosystem and Manufacturing Ecosystem Tracks

Jan. 22, 2024, 8:46 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

Dear Participants,

The submission deadline for the Community Energy Innovation Prize’s Clean Energy and Manufacturing Ecosystem tracks is two weeks away - Friday, February 2, at 5 PM ET

Please take advantage of the prize resources, which include: 

And don't forget Power Connector support! These organizations offer free submission feedback, advice, answers to your questions, and can help you connect with other resources. You can find their contact information here.

The Community Energy Innovation Prize Administration Team


One Month Left: Community Energy Innovation Prize Ecosystem Tracks’ Submission Deadline is Quickly Approaching!

Jan. 3, 2024, 11:47 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

Dear Participants,

This is a friendly reminder that the submission deadline for the Community Energy Innovation Prize’s Clean Energy and Manufacturing Ecosystem tracks is Friday, February 2, at 5 PM ET. This means you have one more month to finalize your entries. We strongly encourage you to utilize the available information and resources to craft a compelling submission.

Key Resources Include: 

Additionally, our Power Connectors are readily available to assist you! They offer free submission feedback, advice, answers to your questions, and can help you connect with other resources. You can find their contact information here.

Best of luck in this final month!

The Community Energy Innovation Prize Administration Team


Congratulations, Collegiate Track CONCEPT Phase Winners!

Dec. 4, 2023, 9:08 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

The first phase of the Community Energy Innovation Prize Collegiate Track has drawn to a close. In the CONCEPT Phase, five teams were awarded $15,000 each, via their associated academic institutions, and will also receive in-kind mentorships they move on to the PROGRESS Phase. Teams were selected for their student-led activities that help ensure the benefits of clean energy are felt in local underserved communities. 

These teams will now use their cash prizes in the next phase to implement their planned community activities. Teams will report on their progress in March 2024, where winning teams will compete to receive $20,000 cash and additional mentorship services as a part of the PROGRESS Phase. Read the official announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Collegiate Track CONCEPT phase winners are:

 

  • American Institute of Chemical Engineering and Lamar University, Beaumont, TX
    Researching the capabilities of converting landfill gas to renewable natural gas, and implementing findings into university and underserved community-based curricula.
  • Greener CASA, Tyler, TX
    Creating an academia-community partnership to bring free energy audits to underserved communities to promote energy efficiency.
  • GreenSynergy, Houston, TX
    Integrating clean energy into education, utilizing solar panels, fuel cells, and other technologies to foster learning and sustainability.
  • Rural Stormwater Recovery Innovators, Cedar City, UT
    Using smart stormwater mitigation strategies to protect community assets and produce and support cleaner water and clean energy.
  • Solar Decathlon at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA
    Designing and building sustainable net-zero homes to address energy challenges, develop a green workforce, and train the next generation of sustainable professionals in Westside Atlanta.

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