Energizing the Future Prize Design Summary

XPRIZE Energizing the Future is an incentivized competition that empowers energy innovators and researchers with the opportunity to prove out their clean energy carriers and long-duration transfer systems at a real-world scale.

Teams will demonstrate the full lifecycle of an energy carrier, starting with conversion from clean electrons, through long-duration storage and long-distance transfer, and ending with using it to power real-world functions. All of this will be achieved with high levels of lifecycle efficiency and at a cost that will be seen as competitive with fossil fuels.

During 39 months of active competition, teams will advance through three competition rounds – Technical Submission, small-scale Proof of Concept, and Pilot Scale targeting commercialization - to deliver energy carrier systems that will be evaluated for efficiency, health and safety, sustainability, and scalability, throughout their demonstrated lifecycles. . Teams will perform testing at their own sites using easily-obtainable equipment, and submit all necessary data and information to XPRIZE for evaluation by the Judging Panel.

The Winning Team Will…

  • Capture renewable and clean electrons at a rate of 33.6 MWh/day;
  • Transfer 1,000 kWh for 10 days, simulating a 6,000 km crossing of an ocean;
  • and Power 3 functions:
    • Electrification at a minimum 65% conversion efficiency;
    • Combustion for 10 hours over 5 days, compared to #2 Diesel; and
    • Heat Generation, reaching 1000ÂşC twice, compared to #2 Diesel;
  • With the highest efficiency, safety, sustainability, and scalability scores;
  • At the lowest cost: no more than $0.374/kWh and with a target of $0.034/kWh.

Judging Criteria

The following are the proposed criteria to evaluate each team’s performance and ultimately distribute the awards:

Technical Submission Criteria

  • The proposed solution rationale, including a description of the challenges the solution aims to address
  • The degree of technological or operational innovation with respect to the prize evaluation criteria
  • The team’s ability to meaningfully demonstrate capabilities within the timeline of the prize
  • Challenges that may hinder the demonstration of solutions, including capital needs and others
  • Evaluation of innovations’ scalability following the competition, including details about source materials, the carrier, and machinery teams intend to use
  • A detailed list of all materials intended to go into the final products and/or system development

Semifinals: Proof-of-Concept

Teams will capture power, store it for 30 days and convert to electricity for extra points. The following will be evaluated:

  • Output tate (40 kWh/day)
  • Amount of energy stored (60 kWh)
  • Density
  • Equipment degradation
  • Round-trip efficiency at each stage
  • Full lifecycle (exergetic) efficiency
  • Health & safety, toxicity
  • Feedstock & materials circularity
  • Scalability, including material, processes, growth plans and cost estimates

Finals: Prototype Demonstration Targeting Commercialization

Teams will demonstrate their solutions locally over 15 consecutive days, including the capture of the power, transferring it over 10 days - simulating a 6,000 km crossing of the ocean, to then convert to up to three use-cases (all three should be demonstrated for full scoring) over 5 days. The following will be evaluated:

  • Output rate ( 33.6 MW/day)
  • Amount of energy stored ( 1,000 kWh)
  • Density & weight
  • Equipment degradation
  • Round-trip efficiency at each stage
  • Electrification conversion efficiency
  • Combustion conversion efficiency
  • Heat generation conversion efficiency
  • Health & safety, toxicity
  • Full lifecycle analysis
  • Costs & updated tech-to-market analysis

In your opinion, what is missing, or, what isn’t necessary?

We look forward to seeing all of your insights and feedback!

3 Likes

Hi @akb, @b0bbybaldi, @agval, @Magneto, @Jesse_Nyokabi, @rayw, @carlbozzuto, @KeithDPatch, @gyyang, @grhoffman7, @mikelandmeier, @darlenedamm - We would love to hear your feedback on the ETF prize design summary.

1 Like

Amongst the key point am watching for is full lifecycle analysis. Sometime we overlook this during our discussion.

2 Likes

I do not see the relevance of the 6000 km “ocean crossing”. Perhaps the plan designer can provide their rational for this requirement. IMHO it would be better to cite a Transmission line voltage and the impedance of the Transmission line.

3 Likes

It’s great to see the renewable energy competition getting closer to implementation. It’s good that the proposal aims to include a comprehensive evaluation.

Just a few comments.

The phrase “clean electrons” doesn’t sound right [to someone with a physics background] - electrons are just electrons, neither clean nor dirty, and the phrase might mislead or deter some potential competitors. If I understand the challenge properly then “clean renewable energy” might be more accurate. Energy in any form is acceptable [isn’t it?] provided it can meet the end user applications (e.g. electrical power and heating), and satisfy all of the evaluation criteria.

Regarding the 6,000 km crossing of an ocean, it might be worth elaborating on this with a few potential examples (e.g. power lines, shipping fuel, shipping energy in some other form, or any other method of moving energy from point A to point B, 6000 km away). The “ocean” reference alone might mislead some competitors to think that a shipping solution is the only acceptable solution, or an under-sea power cable is the only acceptable solution. Presumably any energy moving solution is acceptable (if it meets all the criteria)?

3 Likes

First, 39 months does not seem long enough. I am assuming that the clock starts when the round 1 submissions have to be submitted. There will need to be at least a 3 - 4 month period for review and selection by the judging team. Round 2 will likely take at least one year, particularly if a team needs to purchase equipment, get it delivered and installed, and then made operational. Teams have to store the captured power for 30 days. Any number of things could go wrong, requiring the team to start over on that task. I would suggest that 15 months would be better. The finals call for a 15 consecutive day demonstration. I would suggest that 30 consecutive days is more in keeping with electric power requirements. For this size of plant, design, fabrication, delivery, construction, and start up will likely take around 2 years. Then, to get a 30 consecutive day run may take another year to accomplish, allowing for a couple of tries to get it to work smoothly. The total would be more like 4.5 years rather than 39 months. All of that assumes that the design, build, and test considerations drive the critical path. However, there are a number of criteria that may present a problem and need corrective action. Among them are the various conversion efficiency issues, the full life cycle analysis, and the cost/market analysis. Some of these issues will need data from the prototype to evaluate. If the results are not what was expected, there may be a need for a process or design change. The current schedule would not support that kind of activity. If the goal is to actually promote energy efficiency, there will be a need for as many of these activities as possible.

2 Likes

I am not a fan of “Clean Electrons” either. I use the term “Renewable, Energetic Electrons” (REE).

I think the 6,000km crossing the ocean is an important metric. However, that is not sufficient. There needs to be an efficiency metric. A metric based upon current technologies should be sufficient to start. What is the efficiency of today’s fuel delivery shipping oil from Arabia to Europe. Also what is the efficiency of the new cable going from Morocco to the UK?

The 39 month timeframe for this will limit the competitors to technologies currently in development (batteries, cables, hydrogen and ammonia). Renewable power ==> transmission ==> battery ==> transmission ==> Fischer Tropsche or Haber Bosch ===> heat, combustion.

The price of this pathway will heavily depend upon the price of the renewable, energetic electrons (solar, wind). You probably need to set the price for renewable, energetic electrons to normalize comparisons. I don’t think this contest needs to address power capture. The goal is storage and transmission solutions. You want a solution that adds value to existing renewable installations.

The technology I am developing (the renewable, circular carbon economy) is at 10 years away. I am working on my entry for the 2032 XPrize!

2 Likes

@Shashi.

I liked that you included equipment degradation. I wonder if that should be expanded to include something about disaster resiliency - I’m thinking about what happened in Texas earlier this year with the freezing temperatures.

I also liked the health/safety/toxicity piece. I’m wondering if that should be expanded to include something on not creating wild fires or other disasters? Should we also include something specific on wildlife? I’m thinking about how wind turbines or large solar panel fields can cause damage to birds.

Finally, and this may be asking too much, but what about designing the system so that it is beautiful or blends in with the environment. I grew up in a small coastal town, and there was always a debate about adding large scale infrastructure, not only because it spoiled the scenery, but because it hurt the tourist industry which most of the town was dependent upon economically.

In general, I really like the description and think it includes the essential elements, but if we think the innovators can pull it off, these would be nice-to haves.

2 Likes

@Shashi I think this is great! But it calls to my attention the length of the competition! It is unclear to me how are we expecting innovators to finance such lengths. It seems like a great opportunity for those with traction but a tough a risky one for some just starting out. Therefore it would be of utmost importance to explicitly state such a potential schedule so that people can self evaluate beforehand if they would be able to compete in the first place.

2 Likes

@akb and @grhoffman7, Thank you for your helpful comment about the ocean corssing.

The goal with “simulating the crossing of the ocean”, was two-folded: one, to indicate the absence of grid infrastructure, or, the need to use mobile storage units (so to test for the most extreme challenge in moving electrons, the absence of a grid), and second, to indicate the renewable energy trade trend trajectories.

The actual demonstration is tailored to local teams’ capabilities based on trade infrastructure scaling pathways (they will use a truck) and mimicking exposure to extreme environmental conditions (cold and hot temps, in addition to movement).

We have amended the language to “transfer 1,000 kWh for 10 days, simulating the primary energy trade.” While this language is very high level, the competition guidelines will include details about the actual demonstration and the rationale behind it.

2 Likes

Thank you @darlenedamm! you raise interesting points about resiliency and sustainability, just to share a couple of example of relevant demonstrations that are already included: during the transfer simulation the carriers will be exposed to extreme temperatures for days, both freezing (-20ÂşC) and hot (+60ÂşC) . In health and safety we will be evaluating process and handling (so, also risk mitigation), as well as toxicity and environmental toxicity.

2 Likes

@mikelandmeier @akb Thank you for calling out clean electrons; yes, you are right – this competition is seeking to enable the transfer of clean and renewable energy. @mikelandmeier I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but the feedstock for energy carriers includes waste carbon (which will be counted as borrowed carbon in LCA).

2 Likes

Thank you @carlbozzuto for these important insights.
The timeline is indeed designed to keep innovators on their toes and was stress-tested with several innovators and target markets (some suggested shorter). Nonetheless, we maintain the flexibility that this timeline may need to be extended, and will address that accordingly during the competition. Currently, the breakdown of active competition is as follows:

  • Round 1 tech submissions - 3m
  • Semifinals: solution development - 1y; demo and evaluation - up to 3m (incl. 35 consecutive days of live energy cycle demo)
  • Finals: solution development - 1.5y; demo and evaluation - up to 3m (incl. 15 consecutive days of live energy cycles demo)
2 Likes

@mikelandmeier thank you for sharing the link.