DOE Announces Funding for Marine Energy Research and Testing Infrastructure

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Water Power Technologies Office


March 31, 2020

March Water Wire

What’s Inside: This edition of Water Wire highlights open funding opportunities, prize selections, new products, upcoming industry events, and additional hot topics for the month.

Estimated Read Time: 6 minutes and 27 seconds

Funding Opportunities

Calling Marine Energy Researchers: WPTO Issues Marine Energy Foundational R&D and Testing Infrastructure FOA

Today, the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) issued a funding opportunity to strengthen and expand the research and development (R&D) expertise and intellectual capital of U.S. universities and non-federal research institutions as well as investing in additional test capabilities to help advance the marine energy industry. The funding opportunity announcement (FOA), entitled “Marine Energy Foundational Research and Testing Infrastructure” presents an opportunity to continue building marine energy research capabilities and leverage expertise to help the developing marine energy industry tackle complex scientific and technical problems. The FOA’s primary goal is to increase the likelihood of commercial adoption of marine energy technologies, while developing intellectual capital for U.S. technology leadership in ocean sciences and marine energy.

The FOA has four main topic areas: (1) Foundational R&D; (2) Atlantic Marine Energy Center; (3) Foundational Research Network Facilitator; and (4) Current Energy Technology Testing Infrastructure.

WPTO issued the FOA via the EERE Exchange website. If Applicants wish to receive official notifications and information from EERE regarding this FOA, they should register in EERE Exchange. When the FOA is released, applications will be accepted only through EERE Exchange.

Applications Open for the Fish Protection Prize

WPTO’s Fish Protection Prize is still accepting applications through April 24!

Under this new American-Made Challenge, WPTO is seeking innovations in fish exclusion technology to protect fish from water diversions and hydropower dam intakes. In cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the prize encourages cross-industry collaboration to conceive practical, cost-effective fish exclusion technologies and submit their ideas to compete for up to $700,000.

Watch the newly-released video featuring interviews with the experts behind the prize to learn more about submission expectations and how to get involved.

DOE Launches the Water Resource Recovery Prize as Part of Water Security Grand Challenge

In January, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office launched the American-Made Challenges Water Resource Recovery Prize as part of DOE’s 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 two-phased competition invites innovators to propose cost-effective and innovative facility engineering solutions at small- to medium-sized water resource recovery facilities. DOE will distribute a total of up to $1 million in combined cash prizes.

Interested in participating? There is still time to submit before the April 28 deadline. Learn more about the requirements and eligibility criteria.

DOD Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University Research Initiative

This month, the U.S. Navy released a $190 million FOA through its Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). The MURI program supports basic research in science and engineering at U.S. universities with the goal of understanding or achieving something that has never been done before. Learn more about this FY 2021 opportunity on


Industry Innovators Take on Wave-Powered Desalination

Turning seawater into drinking water is a challenge for the ages—one that industry innovators are now embracing. The Waves to Water Prize challenges teams to design wave-powered desalination systems to provide potable water for disaster recovery and remote coastal communities.

DOE selected 20 winners of the CONCEPT Stage, the first of four stages innovators will compete in to win their share of $2.5 million. Industry members with experience in either desalination or wave energy are active in the competition, so check out their innovative ideas to desalinate ocean water using only the power of waves.

And stay tuned, in the next few months WPTO will announce the winners of the DESIGN Stage, which closed on March 13.


Just Released Annual Report: An Overview of Ocean Energy Activities in 2019

This month, the Executive Committee of Ocean Energy Systems (OES) released its Annual Report, presenting an overview of progress made by the OES and its member countries (including the United States) to reach their goals of advancing the ocean energy industry worldwide, focusing on energy security, environmental protection, and economic growth. The report includes summaries of new, ongoing, and recent OES projects, and it presents an overview of ocean energy projects and advancements in 25 member countries around the world.

The OES is an intergovernmental collaboration between countries, which operates under a framework established by the International Energy Agency in Paris. Presently, the OES has 25 member countries with a number of other observer countries in the process of joining. The OES connects organisations and individuals working in the ocean energy sector to accelerate the viability, uptake and acceptance of ocean energy systems in an environmentally acceptable manner.

Life in the FAST Lane: A Pumped-Storage Prize Progress Report

What does it take to fast-track pumped-storage hydropower (PSH) projects? Four hard-working teams of innovators may all hold pieces to the puzzle.

In October 2019, four of the nine teams that competed in the Furthering Advancements to Shorten Time (FAST) to Commissioning for PSH were awarded $500,000 worth of cash prizes and national lab research vouchers for their technology solutions to reduce the time, cost, and risk of commissioning PSH projects. The winners offered creative ideas to improve PSH processes and demonstrated their ability to see the ideas develop from concept to implementation.

Since then, the teams have been working hard to turn their ideas into applicable solutions that could help to alleviate barriers to PSH development.

Upcoming Events

Waterpower Week and ICOE

Out of an abundance of caution, the National Hydropower Association (NHA) is cancelling Waterpower Week in Washington 2020 and postponing the International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE) to 2021. For more information, please visit the NHA website and read the full announcement here. As a sponsor of ICOE, WPTO will continue to highlight these event updates in future editions of the Water Wire.

In Case You Missed It: Blogs, Social Media, and Hot Topics

WPTO Director Talks Fish Protection and DOE Partnerships

Check out WPTO Director Alejandro Moreno’s podcast interview with Federal News Network’s Tom Temin on The Federal Drive with Tom Temin, which originally aired March 11. Moreno discussed fish protection and DOE’s role in fish diversion, including its collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation for the Fish Protection Prize.

Taking the Plunge: Inaugural MECC Competitors Dive In--MECC Team Stories

WPTO will host the first Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC) designed to challenge interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students to offer unique solutions to the burgeoning marine energy industry that can play a vital role in powering the blue economy. Learn more about the challenge and check out all 15 team stories.

Hydro Review Covers Fish Passage Rate at Ice Harbor

Check out a recent article in Hydro Review that discusses the >98% fish survival rate through the new turbine at on the Snake River in Washington State. WPTO awardee Voith Hydro began this project in 2010, and testing began in 2019 following project completion.

Who Run The World? Celebrating Women’s History Month with the Women of Water

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, WPTO celebrates women in science by spotlighting the research and innovation of four female marine energy researchers. From conducting research to managing projects, their range of work in marine energy technologies highlights the impact women have across the country and promotes opportunities for women in water power.

Check out how these women are leading marine energy research and encouraging female representation in the field.

Also, check out our blog post from last year interviewing some of the women who work with WPTO. WPTO has a network of national laboratories, marine scientists, engineers, economists, biologists, and policy analysts work together every day to advance R&D in water power technologies. DOE is committed to increasing the participation of women and girls in the energy sector.