Water Wire - Ocean Edition

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Water Power Technologies Office


June 22, 2020

Text saying "Water Wire Oceans Edition"

What’s Inside: In honor of World Oceans Day and National Ocean Month, this special ocean edition of the Water Wire highlights our marine energy-related prize updates, reportsWPTO staff in the news, webinarsand other hot topics for the month.

Continue to follow the Water Wire and be on the lookout for WPTO emails for the latest news and updates from the office.

Reach out to us at WaterPowerTechnologiesOffice@ee.doe.gov with any inquiries or suggestions.

Estimated Read Time: 7 minutes

Prize Updates

DOE Announces Waves to Water Stage Two Winners and Selection of Final Test Site

WPTO announced the 17 winners of the second stage (DESIGN) of the Waves to Water Prize. Launched in February 2019 by Assistant Secretary Daniel R Simmons, the prize calls on U.S. innovators to leverage the power of the ocean to provide potable drinking water to remote coastal and island communities through wave energy-powered desalination systems. The winners of the DESIGN stage showed they are prepared to build a proof-of-concept prototype of their modular desalination systems.

Additionally, in partnership with the Coastal Studies Institute, WPTO announced Jennette’s Pier, located in Nags Head on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, as the site for the final DRINK Stage of the Waves to Water Prize.

waves spilling into a cup of water.

Recently Released Products

Marine Renewable Energy State of the Science Report

Ocean Energy Systems (OES)-Environmental on June 8 released the 2020 State of the Science report. Funded by WPTO and Ocean Energy Systems (OES), a collaboration supported by the International Energy Agency, the 300-page report is the most comprehensive international analysis to date on the environmental effects of marine renewable energy (MRE) development. More than a dozen Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) researchers wrote the report after synthesizing 4 years of global research. They found that the potential impact of MRE development to marine life is likely small or undetectable; however, the researchers say there is still uncertainty around some issues, as worldwide there have been relatively few sizable deployments of MRE devices where data can be collected.

Additional supplementary material for some of the chapters is also available:

Learn more this month by checking out the 2020 State of the Science webinar series.

WPTO Staff and Researchers in the News

Q&A with WPTO Director

WPTO Director Alejandro Moreno discussed ocean prizes and technologies with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) for a Q&A-style article. In his interview, Moreno highlighted how the Ocean Observing Prize and Waves to Water Prize are eliciting some inspiring ideas from innovators on how to use the power of the ocean for energy, clean water, and ocean observation. Additionally, Moreno discussed WPTO’s partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and how collaboration between agencies can maximize the impact of federal dollars.

Upcoming Webinars and Virtual Events

Renewable-Powered Desalination: Innovative DOE Research and Open Funding Opportunities

On June 23 at 11 a.m. ET, the International Desalination Association (IDA) will host a webinar titled Renewable-Powered Desalination: Innovative DOE Research and Funding Opportunities. Focusing on current DOE activities and R&D in renewable-powered desalination, the webinar will feature DOE and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) speakers on the following topics:

  • The National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), selected in 2019 to support the DOE’s Energy-Water Desalination Hub. NAWI’s focus is on early-stage research on desalination and associated water-treatment technologies to secure affordable and energy-efficient water supplies for the United States from nontraditional water sources.           
  • Active research projects underway related to solar thermal desalination, and the Solar Desalination Prize to help fund research in this area.
  • Wave-energy-powered desalination and understanding how reverse-osmosis membranes behave with the rapid fluctuations from marine energy systems.
  • An overview of the Waves to Water Prize and exciting prize updates.

Tour the PNNL Marine Sciences Lab

You can now tour PNNL’s Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL) on your Oculus VR headset or on YouTube. MSL is the Department of Energy’s only dedicated marine research facility. Located at the mouth of Sequim Bay in Washington State, MSL is uniquely positioned for marine-based research that is focused on helping the nation achieve sustainable energy, a sustaining environment, and coastal security.

In Case you Missed It

Celebrating World Oceans Day with WPTO

To celebrate World Oceans Day and National Ocean Month, WPTO Director Moreno wrote a blog that highlights WPTO’s current work advancing marine energy, as well as its role in working toward the World Oceans Day theme, “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.” Moreno discussed WPTO’s Powering the Blue Economy (PBE) Initiative, PBE prizes, and recent ocean-related announcements. The blog wrapped up with the 2020 State of the Science report, which summarizes scientific progress related to marine energy devices and their interactions with and effects on the marine environment, the animals that live there, and the habitats that support them.

Testing Helps Validate Open-Source Modeling Code

Earlier this year, Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) researchers successfully tested the Floating Oscillating Surge Wave Energy Device (FOSWEC) at Oregon State University’s (OSU) Directional Wave Basin. The device is currently on loan to Oregon State University, where it will continue to help students and researchers complete cutting-edge research. To learn more, visit the Sandia website or contact rcoe@sandia.gov.

A New Way To Deliver Power Across Alaska

To more effectively harness Alaska’s vast marine energy resources, NREL is partnering with PNNL, Ocean Renewable Power Company, and Terrasond Limited on the DOE-funded Cook Inlet project. The project builds on earlier tidal studies conducted by these partners, industry, tribal government, and the University of Washington in Washington State’s Puget Sound and the Western Passage of Maine. NREL-led assessments are helping the remote tribal village of Igiugig identify self-sustaining microgrid options, while the team’s resource characterization work in Cook Inlet has the potential to deliver power to the grid for distribution across the state.

MHKiT: Inspiring Marine Energy Innovation through Better Data

NREL, PNNL, and Sandia recently launched a new resource for marine energy developers and researchers: the Marine and Hydrokinetic Toolkit (MHKiT). Comprising three diverse tools—the PRIMIRE Code Catalog, MRE Code Hub, and MHKiT Matlab/Python—the searchable online software discovery platform and knowledge base provides the MRE community with the ability to model and validate tomorrow’s technologies.

PNNL Hosts Ask Me Anything on the Blue Economy

PNNL hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, during which Reddit users asked experts more than 150 questions related to the Blue Economy. One question was, “How does the projected levelized cost of energy look for wave and tidal energy compared to wind and PV?” See the answer to that question and more by checking out the AMA on Reddit.

Triton Initiative Profile: Nolann Williams

A key to the development and widespread use of marine renewable energy is understanding environmental impacts of MRE systems to help streamline permitting processes and advance the industry in an environmentally responsible manner. To address these needs, DOE developed the Triton Initiative.

The first in a series of Triton Initiative Stories features one of Triton’s newer engineers, Nolann Williams, a PNNL researcher who is working with Triton-funded awardees to finalize technology being developed for monitoring environmental effects of MRE devices. Williams’ work aligns with Triton’s mission to lower cost and duration of environmental assessments, enabling more MRE developers to fulfill permitting requirements. PNNL recruited Williams from Southern California where he worked in aerospace engineering. He has been a crucial to Triton’s efforts to support MRE monitoring technology development.

A Month of Ocean on Social Media

On June 1, President Trump proclaimed June National Ocean Month. Throughout this month, WPTO recognizes the importance of the ocean to the U.S. economy, national security, and environment and renews its commitment to safeguarding vital ocean resources. Follow these social media accounts to learn more about WPTO’s role in marine energy, as well as some fun facts: