Dept. of Commerce and DOE Release Joint Blue Economy Funding Opportunity

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Water Power Technologies Office


February 27, 2020

Dept. of Commerce and DOE Release Joint Blue Economy Funding Opportunity

The Department of Commerce’s U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) have partnered to make new funding available to support growth of innovative blue economy technologies, including marine energy. EDA’s Build to Scale program has made $35 million available for funding across three unique competitions. One of these competitions, the “Blue Economy Industry Challenge,” was developed jointly by EDA and WPTO and seeks to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growth in the Blue Economy. The Blue Economy is generally defined as sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs, while preserving the health of marine ecosystems. For the purpose of this solicitation the definition is broadened to include freshwater, as well as marine activities. Concept Proposals are due by March 24, 2020 at 11:59 pm EST.

The EDA Build to Scale program provides annual grants to help build regional economies through scalable startups. To date, the program has deployed nearly $100 million in federal funding, matched by $215 million in local community support, to create the programs and resources that entrepreneurs need to build and scale their businesses, and investment communities need to support entrepreneurs.

PNNL’s Suite of Sensors Granted Award in Tech Transfer

PNNL’s Sensor Fish technology was competitively selected as part of the 2020 Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) awards for excellence in technology transfer. The technology is a small, autonomous instrument filled with sensors that analyze the physical stresses fish experience when passing through or around dams.

fish sensor in a white person's hand.

Recently licensed to Advanced Telemetry Systems (ATS) through a technology transfer agreement, the device is designed to help dam operators and researchers better understand how dams might affect fish, which can lead to valuable insights for improved, fish-friendly turbines and other structures. In addition to this partnership with ATS, PNNL is also working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Walla Walla District, and the Bonneville Power Administration to deploy the Sensor Fish and gather additional data on fish passage and to continue to improve the instrument’s design.

Read more about the latest deployment.

Re Vision Consulting Releases Report on Wave Energy Converter (WEC) Control Systems

Re Vision Consulting has produced a new report that provides an overview of the critical challenges and opportunities in the design of control systems for six different types of WEC devices. With the ever-present challenges of converting ocean waves into energy, optimized controls can play an important role in improving power capture, decreasing structural loads, and reducing power take-off requirements in WEC systems. While much of the existing literature on marine energy controls analysis is technically complex, Re Vision’s work was specifically designed to summarize key lessons learned in a synthesized format.

Read more about these challenges and lessons learned based on multiple years of WPTO-supported research.

Energy Storage Grand Challenge Announces Initial Series of Public Workshops

Launched in January by U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, the Energy Storage Grand Challenge (ESGC) is a comprehensive program to accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in energy storage. The ESGC builds on the $158 million Advanced Energy Storage Initiative announced in President Trump's Fiscal Year 2020 budget request. Read more

New Igiugig RivGen Video Released

Interested in the effects that a hydrokinetic device can have on an off-grid Alaskan community? WPTO awardee Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has released a new video detailing its partnership with the remote community of Igiugig, Alaska, in deploying the RivGen® Power System to offset local diesel consumption.

The RivGen® device is a submerged cross-flow river current turbine system that’s been in development for over five years with support from the Energy Department. ORPC’s video captures the local impressions of the device as well as the perspectives of staff members who worked with the community to install, operate, and connect the device to the grid.

RivGen boat on the water.

Coming Soon: TEAMER Program Requests for Technical Support Call

The Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research (TEAMER) program is preparing to announce its first call for Requests for Technical Support (RFTS) and now has an official website and mailing list. Announced by DOE last year, TEAMER’s mission is to accelerate the viability of marine renewables by providing access to the nation’s best facilities and expertise to solve challenges, build knowledge, foster innovation, and drive commercialization. Meritorious RFTS applications will be awarded access to the TEAMER network of marine energy facilities to conduct lab, bench, tank, and flume and basin testing, numerical modeling and analysis, or open ocean and field tests. Details about the program, including RFTS timing and the application process, are being finalized and will be announced in the coming months.

Questions about TEAMER can be directed to the Network Director for the Program, the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust:

ICOE Plenary Themes Announced

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) and its Marine Energy Council, hosts for the 2020 International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE), recently announced the themes for the conference’s five plenary sessions. The sessions include:

  • Reflecting on the Past: International Advancements in Marine Energy
  • Show me the Money: Finance and Funding for Marine Energy
  • The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development: What Is It and What Does It Mean for Marine Energy?
  • Powering the Blue Economy
  • Looking to the Future: the next ICOE & the Future of the Marine Energy Workforce

The Energy Department is sponsoring ICOE 2020 with the theme Energizing a Powerful Blue Economy. Through DOE’s sponsorship of ICOE, WPTO is helping develop ICOE’s program and plan co-located events, including the first-ever Marine Energy Collegiate Competition. The event is being held at the Marriott Marquis from May 19–21, 2020, in Washington, D.C. The United States has never hosted the ICOE, and it has only taken place outside of Europe once since its inception in 2006.

In Case You Missed It

DOE and Bureau of Reclamation Collaborate to Launch New Fish Protection Prize

WPTO, in collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation, has announced the commencement of the Fish Protection Prize, inviting entrepreneurs and innovators to submit solutions to help address the challenge of protecting fish from water diversions and intakes.

graphic representation of fish swimming in a stream.

The competition will be organized through three consecutive stages—CONCEPT, INCUBATION, and PITCH—and will present contestants with the chance to win up to $700,000 of combined cash prizes and vouchers for research and facilities support from the National Laboratories and Reclamation. Interested in joining the competition? Learn more about the timeline, requirements, and eligibility criteria.

Sandia Completes Multi-Year Wave Energy Controls Project, Releases Results and Associated Code

Sandia National Laboratories has completed a multi-year, DOE-funded project to examine the effects of control theory on increasing power produced by wave energy conversion (WEC) devices. Resulting from a series of tank tests at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (Carderock Division) Maneuvering and Sea Keeping Basin in Bethesda, Maryland, Sandia has produced a report summarizing a range of WEC control experiments, including mechanical vs. electrical power, predictionless control, self-tuning control, and more. As a way of disseminating some of a methods developed for the testing, a set of MATLAB and Simulink files have also been released for public analysis and use.