Competitions, Challenges, and Industry Prizes

Join a competition to expand your knowledge and share your skills in the development and commercialization of advanced energy technologies. Competitions, prizes, and similar contests support the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs.

Learn more about the events administered by NREL on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Middle School Car Competition

NREL's model car competition is a classroom-based, hands-on educational program for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. Student teams apply math, science, and creativity to construct and race solar- and battery-powered model cars.

High School Science Bowl

NREL sponsors the annual Colorado Regional High School Science Bowl, in which teams are quizzed on math and science topics. The winning team receives an opportunity to compete for the national title in Washington, D.C.

AlgaePrize Competition

Sponsored by DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office and supported by NREL and the Algae Foundation, the AlgaePrize challenges high school and college students to expand novel solutions to algae production, processing, and new product development to lower the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts on the way to large-scale algae commercialization.

Collegiate Competitions

These competitions provide hands-on learning for future scientists and researchers that complements coursework and curriculum at collegiate institutions worldwide. They provide opportunities for students to use their creativity, passion, and skills to address real-world issues.

Collegiate Wind Competition

The Collegiate Wind Competition challenges interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate students to offer unique solutions to a complex wind energy project using two multifaceted elements: (1) design, build, and test a wind turbine and (2) plan and financially analyze a wind plant.

CyberForce Competition

This DOE competition challenges college students to protect imagined businesses from simulated cyberattacks. Using critical-infrastructure-focused, real-world scenarios, the competition helps participants improve their understanding of cyber-physical threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences.

Geothermal Collegiate Competition

The Geothermal Collegiate Competition engages students to develop innovative geothermal energy applications and gain real-world career skills as they prepare to enter the clean energy workforce. The challenge fosters understanding of geothermal energy, communicates the benefits of geothermal technologies, and helps overcome nontechnical barriers to geothermal development.

Hydropower Collegiate Competition

To help pave the way for next-generation workers to start their careers in clean energy, the U.S. Department of Energy Hydropower Collegiate Competition calls on interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of academic programs to offer unique solutions to complex hydropower challenges. The competition provides students with direct industry experience, valuable education on the possibilities of hydropower, and a window into potential—and in some cases unknown—hydropower career pathways.


JUMP (Join the discussion, Unveil innovation, Make connections, Promote tech-to-market) Into STEM is an online building science competition for undergraduate and graduate students across a variety of majors at U.S. colleges and universities. This initiative was launched to advance skills, encourage diversity, and promote early-stage research in building energy efficiency.

Marine Energy Collegiate Competition

This competition challenges students across the U.S. to develop novel, market-ready, cutting-edge marine energy technologies and solutions to address some of the most pressing challenges in the expanding blue economy. Participants develop hands-on skills that set them apart from other graduates in the field.

Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is a collegiate competition that challenges multidisciplinary student teams to design and build high-performance, low-carbon buildings. Since 2002, the Solar Decathlon community has grown to more than 25,000 alumni globally. Nurturing tomorrow’s leaders, Solar Decathlon offers collegiate institutions two tracks to participate: an annual Design Challenge and a biennial Build Challenge.

Solar District Cup

The Solar District Cup challenges multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed solar energy systems for a campus or urban district. The competition engages students across the engineering, urban planning, and finance disciplines to reimagine how energy is generated, managed, and used in a district.

American-Made Challenges

Join the CHallenge. Accelerate U.S. Energy and Manufacturing Through a Competitive Prize Program.

The American-Made Challenges incentivize the nation's entrepreneurs to reassert American leadership in the energy marketplace. These challenges seek to lower the barriers U.S.-based innovators face in reaching manufacturing scale by accelerating the cycles of learning from years to weeks. They create partnerships that connect entrepreneurs to the private sector and the network of DOE national laboratories across the nation.

Fish Protection Prize

Furthering Advancements to Shorten Time Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower Prize

Geothermal Manufacturing Prize

Groundbreaking Hydro Prize

Innovations in Advanced Manufacturing for Hydropower Prize

Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Powering the Blue Economy: Ocean Observing Prize

Solar Prize

Water Resource Recovery Prize

Waves to Water Prize