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



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. 



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

Gather Your Team for the Fall 2023 Geothermal Collegiate Competition!

May 24, 2023, 8:19 a.m. PDT by Kelly MacGregor

The Geothermal Collegiate Competition (GCC) has announced the launch of the Fall 2023 cycle! Read the rules and start gathering your team for the competition that invites students to develop real-world geothermal solutions while competing for cash prizes and gaining resume experience in the renewable energy industry.

With two tracks this year—technical and policy—there is something for nearly any undergraduate or graduate student. First-place teams in each track will receive $10,000 and second-place teams can earn $6,000. 

Registration will open on August 1, 2023! Check out the rules to learn more and follow the competition on HeroX for updates.


  • Register for one of the GCC office hours: 
  • Or email  with questions.

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!


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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.