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Hydropower Operations Optimization (H2Os) Prize

Help solve some of the most near-term challenges in the clean energy transition by improving the grid's reliability and resiliency! By optimizing hydropower operations, hydropower can complement variable renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar, that help power the grid.

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The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) is launching the Hydropower Operations Optimization (H2Os) Prize to encourage the development of new solutions that can help advance hydropower's contribution to the grid. Hydropower provides beneficial operational flexibility in timing and storage of energy that can be better leveraged to meet grid needs. This competition challenges innovators to employ modeling, data analytics, and machine learning to schedule hydropower operations in coordination with existing grid scheduling practices while respecting water management operations and constraints.

The three-phase competition is offering a combined cash prize pool of up to $75,000.

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Graphic illustration of hydropower dams and a city separated by a river, interconnected by electric transmission lines.
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As the U.S. grid evolves and integrates more variable renewable energy resources like wind and solar, hydropower will need to adapt to changing grid conditions and support the reliability and resiliency of the grid while also meeting water management needs, such as water supply, environmental flow requirements, and management of nuisance flooding. By increasing hydropower's ability to operate flexibly and support variable energy resources, solutions funded by this solicitation support the Biden Administration's goal of a decarbonized power sector by 2035.

Hydropower technologies are versatile and can be dispatched quickly. They can operate reliably and sustainably, but grid operators often limit existing hydropower resources based on conservative estimates of hydropower availability and water management practices.

As part of WPTO's Hydropower and Water Innovation for a Resilient Energy System (HydroWIRES) Initiative, the H2Os Prize encourages competitors to leverage both advanced modeling as well as data analytics and machine learning capabilities to develop solutions that can help hydropower systems coordinate with existing grid scheduling practices and offer the full set of hydropower resource capabilities.

Through the competition, WPTO seeks solutions to address key hydropower technology development goals:

  • Hydropower Management Performance: Economic and environmental benefits resulting from optimal coordination of hydropower systems based on feasible and just hydropower output and electricity market energy and ancillary prices.
  • Water Operations Feasibility: Hydropower scheduling solutions that respect water management operations and constraints.
  • Novelty and Generality: Flexible solutions that apply to a variety of facilities within a range of modeling and institutional workflows.

Prize Structure

The H2Os Prize will run in three distinct phases of increasing complexity, all open to new competitors.

Phase 1

  • Prize pool up to $10,000
  • Grand prize of $3,000
  • $1,000 prizes for up to 7 other winners

Phase 2

  • Prize pool up to $15,000
  • Grand prize of $7,500
  • $1,500 prizes for up to 5 other winners

Phase 3

  • Prize pool up to $50,000
  • Grand prize of $30,000
  • $10,000 prizes for second and third place winners

Important Dates

  • Phase One Opens: April 6, 2022
  • Phase One Submission Closes: May 20, 2022
  • Phase One Winner Announcement and Phase Two Opens: July 7, 2022
  • Phase Two Submission Closes: August 19, 2022
  • Phase Two Winner Announcement and Phase Three Opens: September 29, 2022
  • Phase Three Submission Closes: November 11, 2022*
  • Phase Three Winner Announcement: December 2022*

*Dates anticipated

All dates are subject to change including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements. Final dates for the close of the incubation stage and the pitch contest will be posted at or before the announcement of winners of the Concept Stage.

Sign up for updates on our Topcoder challenge page.

Who Can Participate?

The prize aims to attract and support dedicated, cross-disciplinary teams of highly capable individuals interested in contributing to solutions that will help improve the performance of hydropower system operations and spur the clean energy transition.


Solutions that help shape the future

Are you an innovator or an experienced professional interested in putting your hydropower, machine learning, data science, or optimization expertise to work? We're looking for diverse, multidisciplinary teams to help solve some of the most near-term challenges in the clean energy transition by improving the performance of hydropower system operations.

Join the Challenge