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Hydrogen Business Case Prize

The Hydrogen Business Case Prize engages students and professionals interested in hydrogen and fuel cells to develop a tool to characterize the regional value proposition for hydrogen in multiple applications, including opportunities to co-locate supply and demand. The prize serves two major purposes: (1) create educational opportunities for emerging talents within the hydrogen and fuel cell technology space and (2) inform stakeholders about business cases for hydrogen technologies and end-use applications.

About the Hydrogen Business Case Prize

The Department of Energy (DOE)’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) is committed to encouraging clean energy through research, development, demonstration and deployment of hydrogen technologies and supporting workforce development in this space. This prize competition will provide an opportunity for competitors to learn about hydrogen production, infrastructure, and utilization technologies, and for successful teams to advance their education in this space through DOE-funded internships.

Competitors must develop a user-friendly computational tool that characterizes business cases for hydrogen in user-defined scenarios, accounting for multiple end-use applications and key drivers of profitability, such as energy prices and infrastructure and hydrogen production costs. The tool must be developed in a format readable by Microsoft Excel and must ultimately be submitted for scoring at the end of the competition.

A photo of bubbles floating in blue liquid.

Examples of parameters that applicants are encouraged to consider for inclusion within their tools include:

  • Technology descriptors: Component capital and operating costs, measures of performance (e.g., efficiency)
  • Scenario descriptors: Timeframe modeled, region, regional policies
  • Market variables: capacity factors, hydrogen demands, and associate price points (e.g., steel, iron, ammonia, heat/combustion, mobility, gas grid injection, re-electrification, backup storage)
  • Outputs: Component sizes, system cost, revenue, payback time, emissions reduction, measures for environmental justice

Competitors are encouraged to incorporate additional metrics as appropriate.


While the competition is open to all U.S. permanent residents or U.S. citizens, it targets graduate students. Competitors can join the challenge in teams of 1-5 people. All teams must register their intent to participate by submitting an initial set of documents by October 29, 2021.

Phase 1: Content Submission

During Phase I, teams will develop a brief report (up to 10 pages) describing the design of the tool. DOE will review the report, and up to ten teams will receive a cash prize of $10k per team. All participating teams will be eligible to continue in Phase II of the competition.

Phase 2: Tool Development

In Phase II, teams will develop the proposed tool, along with a final report that details inputs, assumptions, results, and analysis of a case study completed using the tool.

At the end of Phase II, each competing team will present their tool in front of a panel of experts at a Demo Day event organized by the Prize Administrator. An expert panel will score these tools and the associated presentations. After the competition, all entrants will have the opportunity to post their tools online for beta testing or use by the stakeholder community.

The top two winning teams will be considered for paid internships located at companies, nonprofits, or national laboratories active in the hydrogen and fuel cell technologies sector. Additionally, the top 5 teams will receive cash prizes up to $50k.

Hydrogen Business Case Prize Winners

Congratulations to the winners the Hydrogen Business Case Prize! Each of these four teams successfully developed a new tool that characterizes business cases for hydrogen in user-defined scenarios, accounting for multiple end-use applications and key drivers of profitability, such as energy prices and infrastructure and hydrogen production costs.

View Prize Winners


During both phases of the competition, mentors from industry, nonprofits, and/or the national labs will be available virtually for up to an hour a week to answer questions from team members. These sessions will allow competitors and mentors to get to know one another and be exposed to different thinking and approaches.

Who Can Participate?

The Hydrogen Business Case Prize is open only to teams comprising exclusively of permanent U.S. residents or U.S. citizens. DOE employees, employees of sponsoring organizations, employees of organizations supporting administration of the prize (i.e. DOE, NREL, and ORISE), members of their immediate families (i.e., spouses, children, siblings, or parents), and persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate. Federal employees and DOE national laboratory employees are also not eligible to participate.

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