NREL Challenge


Geothermal Collegiate Competition

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

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

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Challenge Updates

GEOPHIRES v2.0 for Economic Feasibility Analysis: Webinar March 3

Feb. 26, 2021, 9:59 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Looking for tools to help you perform your preliminary economic feasibility analysis? We’ve got you covered: GEOPHIRES v2.0 is a free, open-source geothermal techno-economic simulator that combines reservoir, wellbore, surface plant, and economic models to estimate capital and operation and maintenance costs, instantaneous and lifetime energy production, and overall levelized cost of energy of your geothermal plant. 


GEOPHIRES v2.0 is Python-based and relatively simple to use for even the novice coder. It features built-in assumptions for direct-use geothermal cases. Geothermal Collegiate Competition teams are strongly encouraged to use GEOPHIRES v2.0 for the preliminary economic feasibility analysis required with their final submission.


Ready to take GEOPHIRES v2.0 for a test drive with your use case? Learn about the tool directly from one of its developers, Kevin McCabe from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.


Register and join us on Wednesday, March 3, 1–2 p.m. MST. 

Kick-Off Webinar Recording

Feb. 10, 2021, 5:33 p.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Did you miss the Kick-Off webinar today? Check out the recording for tips and information on what you need to do to apply to the Geothermal Collegiate Competition:

Still have a question that wasn't answered? Head over to the forum and post it.

Kick-Off Webinar Tomorrow

Feb. 9, 2021, 7:48 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Hi Geothermal Collegiate Competition Competitors,

Make sure to join us tomorrow - Wednesday, February 10 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time for a Kick-Off Webinar for the Spring Competition. You'll learn about what you need to submit, cash prizes you can win, and resources available to help you be successful.

Register here:

Welcome to the Geothermal Collegiate Competition

Jan. 25, 2021, 12:17 p.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Welcome to the Geothermal Collegiate Competition. This spring, we're inviting teams of college and university students to identify a geothermal direct-use site and develop a strategy for that site. Prizes for 1st ($1,000), 2nd ($750), and 3rd ($500) place are available.

For more information, check out the rules under the "Resources Tab" or ask us a question in the forum.

Be sure to join us for an overview webinar on February 10. Sign up here:

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