NREL Challenge


Geothermal Collegiate Competition

Foster understanding of geothermal, communicate benefits of geothermal technologies, and overcome non-technical barriers to development.

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed


Challenge Overview

Through the Geothermal Collegiate Competition, the DOE Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) encourages students to develop innovative solutions for geothermal energy application challenges and build career skills for the clean energy workforce. By engaging students not traditionally involved with geothermal research, GTO aims to raise awareness of geothermal resources among communities and the public, thereby broadening the geothermal stakeholder base.

The Geothermal Collegiate Competition invites participation by teams of at least three students enrolled in accredited U.S.-based collegiate institutions or U.S. citizens enrolled at non-U.S. based collegiate institutions. In this case, “collegiate institution” refers to any school of post-secondary or higher education, including but not limited to community colleges, technical colleges, and traditional four-year and graduate-level universities. See “Who Can Enter” for more information on eligibility. There is no cost to register or participate.

Learn More

To learn more about the program and the current competition: 

The Geothermal Design Challenge is directed and administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and is funded by the DOE Geothermal Technologies Office. 


Challenge Guidelines


Please review the official rules  for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

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 message us directly at


Challenge Updates

Join us TOMORROW for FREE Webinar on GeoRePORT Socioeconomic Assessment Tool

Feb. 9, 2022, 8:59 a.m. PST by Kelly MacGregor

Tomorrow, Feb. 10 at 1 p.m. EST, join us to hear about the newly revised GeoRePORT Socioeconomic Assessment Tool (SEAT).

Aaron Levine, Esq., from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will discuss the tool and how it has been updated for the assessment of direct use geothermal resources.

Register now for tomorrow's webinar!

Feb. 10—Free Webinar—GeoRePORT Socioeconomic Assessment Tool

Feb. 3, 2022, 1:05 p.m. PST by Kelly MacGregor

Curious about conducting socioeconomic assessments for geothermal?

Join us on Feb. 10 at 1 p.m. EST to hear Aaron Levine, Esq., discuss the newly revised GeoRePORT Socioeconomic Assessment Tool (SEAT) from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The tool has been updated to allow for the assessment of direct use geothermal resources.

Register now for the Feb. 10 webinar!


Feb. 1—Free Webinar—Overview of Environmental Regulations and Permitting for Geothermal

Jan. 24, 2022, 8:48 a.m. PST by Kelly MacGregor

Wondering where to start to receive regulatory and permitting approval for your geothermal project?

Join us on Feb. 1 at 1 p.m. EST to hear from Aaron Levine, Esq., from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This webinar will outline the environmental regulations that commonly apply to geothermal projects, as well as various steps in the permitting process.

Register now for the Feb. 1 webinar!


Image of regulations on a clipboard. Text in image reads the same as text above.

REopt Web Tool: Geothermal Heat Pump Module Now Available

Jan. 11, 2022, 8:38 a.m. PST by Kelly MacGregor

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently developed and released a new geothermal heat pump technology module as part of the REopt™ web tool. The new module allows users to simulate the impacts that converting conventional heating and cooling systems to geothermal heat pumps have on on-site consumption of fuels and electricity, utility costs, and CO2 emissions. Facility owners, technology vendors, policy makers, and others can now model multiple variables to see how they interact to help determine the best opportunities for a site. 

Check out the updated tool

The REopt web tool enables users to optimize system sizes and battery dispatch strategies to minimize energy costs by entering their facility data, including utility rates, billing history, and local weather. REopt can also be used to estimate how long a system can sustain critical loads during a grid outage, informing resiliency strategies.

Jan. 21—Free Direct Use Geothermal System Design Webinar

Jan. 10, 2022, 11:38 a.m. PST by Kelly MacGregor

Want to learn more about designing systems to heat buildings, greenhouses, resorts, aquaculture operations, and more with renewable energy from the Earth?

Join us on Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. EST to learn about Direct Use Geothermal System Design from Dr. Koenraad Beckers, a Research Engineer with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  Dr. Beckers will explain geothermal direct use systems, share examples of successful systems, and inspire participants to design their own direct use system.

Register now for the Jan. 21 webinar!


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Solve this Challenge” button on this page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.

After you have created an account and followed the challenge  click the "Solve This Challenge" button, review and accept the agreement to proceed.

A prompt to create a team will be shown just after the steps above.  You may create a team and invite members using the available options at this point.  

If you accepted the challenge, but elected to skip the above step and not create a team at that point, you may still create a team later.  To create a team after joining as a competitor, there will be a "Create a team" button just below the button for "Begin Entry" button on the main challenge page. 


There is also a helpful video tutorial, How to Form a Team Screencast, available on the HeroX Knowledge Base.

The team captain is the only person on a team who can invite new members to join.

To do so, the captain must first navigate to their team page which can be done by visiting their profile and clicking the Teams tab.

Then, follow this guide, Guide: Inviting team members or requesting to join a team, from the HeroX Knowledge Base to learn how to add team members.

If you encounter an issue when attempting to participate or register for the challenge, you may need to contact HeroX or the Competition Administrators.

You may try to connect with HeroX using the online form that appears in the bottom right corner of your browser window—it says “Leave a Message.”

You may also send a message to the Prize Administrator inbox at

Please allow at least 1 business day for a response.