The Spring 2021 U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Collegiate Competition challenged students from across the United States to design direct-use concepts leveraging geothermal energy to heat and cool buildings, campuses, districts, or entire communities. Participating students gained valuable project development, design, and communications skills while increasing public understanding of geothermal power as a direct, renewable source of energy. Students conceived a use case, performed a resource assessment and usage evaluation, and created a plan and materials for engaging community stakeholders. 

Students from the University of North Dakota and Reykjavik University won the first-place prize for their prospectus on gas well recompletion for geothermal district energy in Mandaree, North Dakota. The project generates heat, food, and jobs through integration of a direct-heated greenhouse. Judges praised the team for their exhaustive evaluation of potential for geothermal direct heat using existing oil and gas wells.

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The first-place prize was awarded to University of North Dakota and University of Reykjavik students for a geothermal district energy concept that would be located in Mandaree, North Dakota.
Nicholas Fry

The second-place prize went to the University of Oklahoma Sooners Geothermal Team, and the third-place winners were the Earth Source Heat team from Cornell University. 

A team from Colorado School of Mines received an honorable mention for geoscience elements of their submission, Heat Extraction From Abandoned Wells, and students from the University of California, Berkeley and Rutgers University received an honorable mention for stakeholder engagement strategies in their proposal to implement geothermal heat pumps on the Berkeley campus.

Photo from the Sooners Geothermal Team
The University of Oklahoma Sooners team identified hydrocarbon wells that could be converted to geothermal wells to heat and cool three local public schools in Moore, Oklahoma. Photo from the Sooners Geothermal Team

Student team submissions also included direct-use concepts for college campuses, farms, medical centers, mixed-use developments, and multifamily housing.

The Geothermal Collegiate Competition is administered for the Department of Energy by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Learn more about the Geothermal Collegiate Competition, and contact with any questions.