Carbon Zero Challenge (CZC) aims to trigger novel ideas towards developing carbon neutral systems to serve major sectors which are plagued by energy and environmental challenges. The thematic areas are;Agriculture, Industries, Transportation systems, Urban Areas & Cities, and Water &Waste management. The grand challenge posed to the competing teams was to develop a grid free /alternative system which is economically viable, socially acceptable, environment friendly, and easily replicable in multiple areas. The challenge is to understand the energy needs of these sectors and develop a sustainable green energy alternative by combination of one or more renewable energy sources.

Carbon Zero Challenge 2018 was open to students and/or early stage entrepreneurs of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The competition received a wide response with a total of 531 applications from college student teams (479) and early stage start-ups (52).

The project applications were evaluated based on how close they were to being carbon neutral or grid free in terms of minimising GHG emissions and their overall life cycle costs. The metrics used were output, outcome, impact and value. After rigorous two-level screening, a total of 25 teams were shortlisted to go to the Phase II of CZC – wherein teams built prototypes for their project ideas.

These 25 teams were provided with expert mentorship and prototype funding upto Rs 5 lakhs per shortlisted project to transform their solutions into tangible products. The contest culminated in a final demo day when the shortlisted teams demonstrated their prototypes before experts from industry and academia. The best solutions received rewards and recognition as well as commitment for further financial support to progress their journey. All the teams were  provided with opportunities to interact with investors and researchers to further develop their ideas.