News Release: NREL Helps Launch Geothermal Manufacturing Prize — Newest of American-Made Challenges

Started in 2018, the American-Made Prize Challenges Accelerate Innovative Ideas From Entrepreneurial Teams Across the Country

Jan. 29, 2020 | Contact media relations

Today, with support from its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the American-Made Geothermal Manufacturing Prize, also known as the Geothermal Prize. The ninth prize in the NREL-administered American-Made Challenges series, the Geothermal Prize is a first-of-its-kind competition designed to spur innovation and address the manufacturing challenges of operating in geothermal environments. Submissions will be open in April 2020.

As part of the American-Made Challenges series, the Geothermal Prize unites the world’s best-in-class research base with the unparalleled entrepreneurial support system of the American-Made Network. Consisting of pioneering maker spaces, dozens of energy incubators, universities, and 17 DOE National Laboratories, the Network is primed to create a sweeping portfolio of innovations to demonstrate the promise of additive manufacturing.

Like other American-Made Challenges, the Geothermal Prize is a series of four progressive competitions that harness the rapid advances that additive manufacturing can provide in tool design, fabrication, and functionality. It incentivizes innovators and entrepreneurs to discover new advanced manufacturing solutions. This rapid, scalable approach to prototype development not only provides cash prizes, but also engages America’s unique innovation ecosystem to help participants achieve their goals.

The program will make it faster and easier to transform innovative American research and ideas into early-stage concepts and then build prototypes that are ready for testing. Competitors work to win cash prizes and other benefits. In addition, they receive mentoring, training, and other services from the American-Made Network community, providing a foundation for long-term success of the participants and the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Eligible competitors include entrepreneurs, members of a team working within a company, university students and faculty, small business owners, researchers at DOE National Laboratories, or anyone based in the U.S. that has the desire to bring an impactful solution in this area to reality.  Participants will compete for cash prizes, as well as vouchers to leverage the capabilities and expertise of the American-Made Network. The combination of funding with the mentoring, training, and other services from the American-Made Network supports long-term success for participants and growth in U.S. manufacturing.

The Geothermal Prize is led by DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) and Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and in partnership with NREL and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The outcomes of the Geothermal Prize will support the achievement of a goal to reach 60 gigawatts of projected geothermal capacity in the United States by 2050.

The Geothermal Prize and its counterpart prize models disrupt the traditional federal government funding model. Instead of funding promising projects through contractual instruments, the American-Made Challenges structure establishes ambitious goals and rewards teams that prevail in high-profile competitions. It also allows DOE to engage diverse stakeholders and increase the number of perspectives working to develop solutions for a specific energy problem.

The DOE Geothermal Technologies Office works to reduce costs and risks associated with geothermal development by supporting innovative technologies and ideas.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.