In its richest and largest competition yet, the foundation will divvy up some $100 million for transformations in biofuels, clean aviation fuel, energy storage, the provision of basic utilities for developing nations, and other categories.
The X Prize Foundation has previously launched competitions for breakthroughs in private space travel, genome mapping, and high-mileage cars. In 2004 aerospace entrepreneur Burt Rutan won the Ansari X Prize by sending his rocket-powered SpaceShipOne to an altitude of more than 367,000 feet with a pilot and the weight equivalents of two passengers. More recently, Google ( GOOG) has backed an X Prize of $30 million for the first team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit video, images, and data back to Earth.
Google Lunar X Prize Team Announcement
He says one prize will be for innovation in providing water, broadband, and clean electricity to villages in the developing world. Other energy categories will be for innovation in energy transmission and the construction of energy-efficient houses and commercial facilities.
More details on their website (PDF). The incentives of X Prize has proved before to be powerful enough to solve issues never before solved like non-government space flights.