American-Made Challenges


FAST Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower Prize

For next-generation pumped-storage hydropower development and the encouragement of exploration for new use cases of PSH.
Voucher Period Closes
Up to 3 winners and up to $550k of combined cash prizes & voucher support

Challenge Overview

FAST Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower Prize


Furthering Advancements to Shorten Time (FAST) to Commissioning

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) invites you to share your ideas to reduce the time, cost, and risk from concept to commissioning, excluding permitting, for pumped-storage hydropower (PSH). Finalists will receive vouchers for up to 50 hours of support from one of four DOE national laboratories to prepare for a pitch contest which will result in up to 3 winners and up to $550,000 of combined cash prizes and voucher support.

The Furthering Advancements to Shorten Time (FAST) Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower Prize aims to attract ideas to reduce the time, cost, and risk required to commission PSH projects. This is the first prize of its kind and is structured to support anyone with a great idea and the motivation to develop their idea into a full business concept.

Today’s electricity system is changing rapidly and hydropower and PSH have an essential role in contributing to the resilience, reliability, and affordability of the U.S. power system. PSH is by far the largest source of energy storage on the grid, and it will play a key role in supporting increased integration of variable generation resources. But large capital investments and long lead times for PSH commissioning are deterrents to would-be developers and utilities.

The goal of the prize is to catalyze new solutions, designs, and strategies to accelerate PSH development by reducing the time, cost and risk to commission PSH. Ideas could include innovative PSH ideas, new layouts, creative construction management, improved construction equipment, application of advanced manufacturing, or standardization of equipment.


Challenge Guidelines

Who can participate?

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

If you want to subscribe to updates on the prize or have any questions, you may use the contact feature on the HeroX platform, or .

We’re also looking for ideas on how to best structure this contest to attract ground-breaking solutions that will support the PSH industry. If you’re not interested in competing but want to help develop and judge the prize, please feel free to .

Updates 8

Challenge Updates

Upcoming Webinar 6/11: Intellectual property (IP) and patent processes for innovators and startups

June 9, 2020, 9:18 a.m. PDT by Tessa Greco

FAST Prize Innovators,

Tune in to an upcoming webinar hosted by an American-Made Network Power Connector on Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 11am ET. More details and registration info is below.


Power Connector the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University is hosting an informational webinar on intellectual property (IP) and patent processes for innovators and startups. The webinar, From Idea to Invention to Intellectual Property: What Startups and Innovators Need to Know, is on Thursday, June 11, 2020, at 11 a.m. ET.

Tune in to hear about IP best practices from legal experts at the national law firm and Network member Babst Calland, as well as Scott Institute entrepreneur Jay Whitacre. This webinar is free and will also have a Q&A session. 

Register here to join:

FAST Grand Prize Winners Announced!

Oct. 24, 2019, 8:25 a.m. PDT by Tessa Greco

Congratulations to the four grand prize winners, who received up to $550,000 in vouchers and cash prizes. They are:


  1. Reducing PSH Excavation Duration, Cost, & Risk – Tracy Livingston and Thomas Conroy, Team Livingston, combined excavation equipment modifications and process optimizations to achieve up to 50% reduction in excavation timelines.
  2. Use of Modern TBMs for Underground Pumped Storage – Doug Spaulding, Nelson Energy and Golder Associates, proposed use of tunnel boring machines for underground excavation, which can decrease excavation time by 50% and reduce costs.
  3. Accelerating PSH Construction with Steel Dams – Gordon Wittmeyer, Southwest Research Institute, presented a modular steel concept for dams that cuts costs by one-third and cuts construction schedules in half.
  4. Modular Closed-Loop Scalable Pump Storage Hydro – Tom Eldredge and Hector Medina, Liberty University, presented a modular closed-loop, scalable PSH system with a capacity range of 1–10 megawatt, adaptable to sites without natural bodies of water.

Watch the FAST Finalists Compete in the Pitch Contest on October 7

Oct. 4, 2019, 1 p.m. PDT by Tessa Greco
We invite all of our followers to tune in to the FAST Prize Grand Finale on Monday, October 7, from 12-6pm ET. The FAST Pitch Contest will feature 15-minute presentations from each of our 9 finalists and will be available via livestream on the American Made Challenges twitter feed (@AMCprizes): Up to 3 Grand Prize Winners will be announced around 6pm ET and will receive their share of $550k in cash and in-kind prizes.

Concept Stage Winner Announcement

July 24, 2019, 10:23 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Winners of the FAST Prize were announced yesterday at the HydroVision conference in Portland, OR. We’d like to congratulate our nine winners and thank everyone who submitted to the contest! The judges had a very difficult task of selecting winners from the extremely well qualified and innovative pool of submissions that we received. Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the first stage of the prize! We invite everyone to continue to follow the prize and participate on the HeroX forums.  

You can see the winners for yourself and learn more about the announcement in the NREL Press Release.

FAST Prize status update

July 11, 2019, 7:58 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Thank you for your continued patience as we choose our finalists. We’re taking a bit more time to announce the finalists publicly but expect a notice on July 23. In the meantime, please reach out with any questions.

-The FAST Prize Team

Forum 18
Teams 156