For something we use every day, energy is a pretty mysterious concept. NOVA Energy Lab investigates what energy is, how it can be converted into useful forms, and why some sources are running low. In our Research Challenge, citizen scientists use scientific data to design renewable energy systems for cities across the U.S.—and compete with others to see whose designs can produce the most power.

Students and other citizen scientists can create virtual wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass systems to provide reliable power to real cities, from Tennessee to California. Participants will use maps, graphs, and weather data to assess the energy potential of each geographic location and design their system to meet production targets based on resident demand. They will then test their model against actual historical and real-time weather and solar data and work to update and optimize their systems based on this feedback.