Waves to Water Prize Now Open, Marine Sciences Laboratory RFI

ENERGY.GOV - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The Water Wire

June 26, 2019

Now Open: Prize Competition to Desalinate Water by Harnessing Wave Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has officially opened the first stage of the Waves to Water Prize, which seeks to accelerate the development of wave energy-powered desalination systems and launch novel technologies to address critical water security challenges. The prize is divided into four stages, and the first concept stage is now open for applications through September 6, 2019.

The Waves to Water Prize is the first prize under the Water Security Grand Challenge, a White House-initiated, DOE-led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water. The Waves to Water prize is led by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on the American-Made Challenges platform.

Dates and Theme Announced for International Conference on Ocean Energy

“Energizing a Powerful Blue Economy

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) has announced the dates, location, and theme for the 2020 International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE). The conference will be held at the Marriott Marquis May 19–21, 2020 in Washington, DC, and the theme is “Energizing a Powerful Blue Economy.” Expanding demand for ocean-derived food, materials, energy, and knowledge is driving rapid growth in the emerging blue economy across the globe.

Every two years, ICOE draws international stakeholders and experts from the marine energy sectors—tidal, wave, ocean currents, and ocean thermal gradients—to discuss device innovation, new market developments, and regulatory frameworks to spur progress. This event is supported by Ocean Energy Systems (OES), an intergovernmental collaboration which operates under a framework established by the International Energy Agency. DOE, as a member of the OES, will highlight U.S. expertise in marine energy technologies research, development, and testing at the event.

Marine Sciences Laboratory Request for Information

WPTO, on behalf of EERE, is seeking feedback from the renewable energy industry, academia, National Laboratories, government agencies, and private entities about the use of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL) Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL) as a research, development, testing, and validation venue. This Request for Information (RFI) addresses the growing interest in the use of MSL facilities for renewable energy, maritime markets—as part of WPTO’s Powering the Blue Economy Initiative—and energy storage research, technology development, and testing. Results of this RFI may be used to help DOE and PNNL prioritize MSL resources and investments. Stakeholder feedback is due by 5 p.m. ET on August 8, 2019.

Looking to Energize Your Career?

EERE is hosting a job fair on Thursday, July 11, 2019 from 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM in Crystal City, VA. Hiring managers will be on-site to conduct interviews for engineer and physical scientist positions based in Washington, DC, and Golden, CO, and contracting officer positions in Golden, CO.

Seven Companies Among Small Business Awardees

Last month, DOE announced its selections for the latest round in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Among the awardees are seven businesses receiving Phase I Release 2 grants to advance and demonstrate technical feasibility for their water power innovations during the first phase of their research.

A New Approach to Pumped Storage Hydropower


Profiled in a recent blog post by Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, DOE-funded Quidnet Energy is investing in an innovative geomechanical pumped-storage system, where wells and other underground man-made or naturally occurring features are adapted for energy storage applications. Their system uses the pressure in underground wells to generate electricity and is unique in its ability to be installed in flat areas—eliminating typical pumped storage hydropower (PSH) geographical challenges in finding high and low elevations in close proximity. If successful, the technology has the potential to enable the development of pumped storage in areas where projects were not feasible before.

Murkowski Welcomes FERC Approval of Alaskan Water Power Project

Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski announced that the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the final installation and operation of a DOE-funded project in Igiugig, Alaska, under a pilot permit. Ocean Renewable Power Company’s RivGen Power System—a hydrokinetic system designed for rivers and shallow tidal waters in remote communities—has the potential to offset half of Iguigig’s diesel consumption. Alaska Public Radio featured the project earlier this year.

DOE Small Business Awardee Wins Innovation Award

DOE-funded RiKarbon, Inc. was recognized for its work in environmentally acceptable lubricants as a TechConnect Innovation awardee at the TechConnect World Innovation Conference this month in Boston, MA. RiKarbon placed in the top 15% of submitted technologies as ranked by the TechConnect Corporate and Investment Partner Committee. Innovation rankings are based on the potential positive impact the technology will have on a specific industry.

Patent Awarded for Slippery Liquid-Infused Composite (SLIC) Technology

Earlier this year, PNNL researchers were awarded a patent for a low-friction, antifouling coating known as SLIC which is being optimized and tested for use in hydropower and marine energy applications with funding from the DOE Technology Commercialization Fund. The patent marks an important step towards successful commercialization and technology transfer. Read more about the technology in this PNNL Research Highlight.

Integrated WEC Design: Theory and Practice Workshop

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), the Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC), and Oregon State University (OSU) will host an integrated wave energy converter (WEC) design workshop at OSU September 16–17, 2019. During this two-day workshop, participants will work with SNL and PMEC researchers to develop a hands-on understanding of WEC design theory and experimental testing approaches with specific attention focused on dynamics, control signal processing, experimental design and analysis, and full-scale design. The course will include classroom time as well as experimental wave tank testing of a model-scale WEC device at OSU’s Hinsdale Wave Basin. Graduate students, early stage career researchers, or research scientists who work in, or are interested in, wave energy conversion are encouraged to attend.

Lessons from Outside the European Union: Alternative Markets for Ocean Energy Growth

WPTO staff sat down with Strategic Energy Technologies Information System (SETIS) magazine to discuss new and emerging marine renewable energy applications outside of the European Union. SETIS plays a vital role in coordinating and implementing the European Commission’s Energy Union Research and Innovation strategy to achieve a cost-effective and fundamental transformation of Europe’s energy system.

Notice of Development of an Experimental Ocean Economy Satellite Account

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) are soliciting comments from the public on the development of a new set of national statistics that would provide information on the economic activity generated within the blue economy in the United States. NOAA and BEA are developing the Experimental Ocean Economy Satellite Account (OESA), which will provide a more detailed measurement of the role of U.S. oceans and Great Lakes in contributing to annual outputs of goods and services. Comments are invited from the public, private industry, state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and other interested parties, and are due by July 6, 2019—for more information, please see here.

In Case You Missed It

First Report Released Under WPTO’s HydroWIRES Initiative

The first report released under WPTO’s new HydroWIRES (Water Innovation for a Resilient Electricity System) initiative—The Hydropower Plants as Black Start Resources—focuses on the critical role that black start capabilities play in ensuring timely restoration of grid operations without relying on the external electric power transmission network. Black start capability is one of a number of vital services that HydroWIRES is investigating to understand and utilize the full potential of hydropower and PSH to contribute to electric system reliability and resilience, now and into the future.

WPTO-Funded Study Among Most Frequently Cited

A WPTO-funded study, “Developing Reservoir Monthly Inflow Forecasts Using Artificial Intelligence and Climate Phenomenon Information,” has been highlighted by Wiley Publishing as one of their most frequently cited reports from January 2017–December 2018. Driven by the need to equip policy makers and operators with better information on how reservoir inflows change under different hydrological conditions, the paper presents two case studies using artificial intelligence and data mining to calculate month‐ahead reservoir changes in flow.


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