USA Hackathon 2023

Innovating creative and sustainable solutions to improve the power grid.

This second Mercuria Hackathon is a call for those interested in the energy transition to develop innovative solutions for the use of energy storage in the ERCOT grid. The challenge will help to raise awareness of the importance of energy storage and its potential to address the issues facing power grids as the world increasingly electrifies. It is also is a great opportunity for participants to learn about electricity grids and energy storage technologies, and to create innovative solutions that can make a real-world impact.

The Mercuria Hackathons are weekend events where interdisciplinary teams come together to create innovative solutions to big energy transition challenges.

In August 2023, we held our second Mercuria Hackathon over a weekend in Austin, Texas. We were joined by 50 students and graduates from universities and schools from across the United States at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Lost Pines spa resort. This like-minded group of people participated in some invigorating work solving prescient challenges, had a lot of fun, and enjoyed this beautiful location.

At Mercuria our purpose is to connect markets and advance the energy transition. We are committed to driving the energy transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy. This hackathon is an opportunity for us to progress that commitment and to help address the intermittent nature of renewable energy in the Texas power grid.

Texas by the numbers

Million people expected to live in Texas in 2023

Number of Fortune 500 companies in Texas - the nation's largest

GW of peak electricity demand

Challenge background

Texas is experiencing a population boom, adding nearly 4 million residents over the past decade with a projected population of over 31 million in 2023. In addition to new residents, businesses are flocking to Texas which now has 53 Fortune 500 companies  – the nation’s largest number.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is the independent system operator for the electricity grid that serves most of Texas. It is responsible for managing the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers. But as Texas continues its transition to cleaner energy sources and its power grid evolves, it faces a number of challenges, including;

1. Increased demand for electricity – the population of Texas continues to grow (in 2021, ERCOT set a new peak demand record reaching 79,828 megawatts).

2. The need to improve reliability – the ERCOT grid has recently experienced a number of outages (including a major blackout in February 2021) that cause significant economic and social disruption.

3. The addition of renewable energy sources – these have important environmental benefits, but do not produce electricity at a constant rate. This can lead to reliability issues as the grid must be able to meet demand even when renewable energy sources are not producing.

One way to address each of these grid challenges is the use of energy storage to store excess electricity during times of low demand and release it during times of high demand. This can help to integrate increased amounts of variable renewable energy sources, provide backup power during outages, and improve the overall efficiency of the grid by smoothing out fluctuations in demand caused by things like weather changes and changes in consumer behavior.

However, not all energy storage technologies or locations for deployment are suitable.

The task for the hackathon teams was to develop an innovative solution that uses energy storage technologies to enhance the reliability and stability of the ERCOT grid. The solution needed to enable increased quantities of renewable power to be integrated and reduce the likelihood of blackouts that would impact businesses and the lives of millions of Texans.

This challenge was been broken into three parts and solving it required participants to have one, or several of a range of skills including economic and scientific analysis, technical problem solving, and software engineering, data science and visualization.

challenge #1

Economic, environmental and technical evaluation

challenge #2

Supply & demand balancing and forecasting

challenge #3

Mapping & site selection

The benefits

We know that hackathons aren’t just about solving problems and the Mercuria Hackathons are no different. Successful applicants joined 50 fellow participants at the Lost Pines resort in Austin, Texas where food, drink and lodgings were paid for by Mercuria. We also be contributed to travel to allow a diverse range of people to be able to attend from across the USA.

The weekend was both simultaneously intense and fun as teams worked [almost] around the clock to solve as many of the three challenges as they could. There was also ample opportunity to network and meet with fellow participants as well as people that work for Mercuria.

While the event was inevitably competitive, it wasn’t just about the competition and there was no grand prize. There were some small prizes that the top teams were able to enjoy and the weekend stay was free!

Any questions?

We have attempted to answer as many questions as you might have on the FAQ page. If there is something that you still need to ask, please drop us an email at

Interested in being involved in future challenges?

Following our initial hackathons in 2022 and 2023, and we will be running hackathons in new locations throughout 2024 and 2025.

You could be joining up to 50 fellow participants for a free weekend stay for some hard work, an amazing networking opportunity and great fun.