Hydropower— energy created from fresh, moving water—is the world's oldest form of renewable energy.
This competition invites interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students to:
By participating in the HCC, students gain industry experience, valuable exposure to hydropower career pathways, and greater knowledge of hydropower’s potential to contribute to a clean energy future.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) launched the HCC in 2022. Learn more about the past cohorts of competitors:
The HCC will consist of three required and concurrent challenges: a Siting Challenge, a Design Challenge, and a Community Connections Challenge. Teams may additionally compete in an optional Build and Test Challenge. Teams competing in all three challenges, and who complete all required stages, will be eligible for up to $15,000 each in cash awards; teams competing in the Build and Test Challenge will be eligible for an additional $5,000 cash prize each. All teams will be eligible to compete for a part of the $25,000 grand prize cash pool. Specific requirements for each stage of the competition are included in the following sections.
HCC teams compete in the following contests:
General Competition Timeline
For a detailed competition timeline, please visit the Timeline tab.
Spring: HCC organizers open the application period for the 2024 competition. Interested teams fill out an application to compete during the upcoming school year.
Spring-Summer: HCC organizers select the teams who will participate in the upcoming school year and present their work at the HCC final event.
Fall–Winter: Selected HCC schools assemble their teams and enter midyear submissions, including a team story, a list of hydropower industry interviewees, and a stakeholder engagement plan.
Winter–Spring: HCC teams continue preparing their competition submissions, including challenge reports, presentations, and posters.
Spring: HCC teams present their work at the HCC final event, expected to be held in conjunction with the National Hydropower Association’s Waterpower Week or a similar industry event.
The HCC will bring together diverse, multidisciplinary groups of students to:
By calling on students to address the challenge of how hydropower can play a critical role in enabling 100% clean energy, the HCC aligns with DOE’s intention to catalyze the timely, material, and efficient transformation of the nation’s energy system.
HCC participants will develop a case study on hydropower’s role in a future power grid, partner with with hydropower industry professionals, and raise awareness of hydropower in their communities.
Review the 2024 HCC Rules to learn more about the competition.
If you have any questions or want to receive updates on the prize, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at Water.Competition@nrel.gov.