September Water Column: Latest in Marine Energy Prizes, Products, & Publications

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Water Power Technologies Office


September 22, 2021

Banner announcing the newsletter name "The Water Column" with an image of the ocean at sunset behind it.

Welcome to The Water Column, a monthly snapshot of marine energy news and happenings. This month’s newsletter is approximately 4 minutes. Let’s dive in!

Reach out to us at with any inquiries or suggestions.

Icon for Marine Energy.

Did You Know?

The total marine energy resource in the 50 states is 2,300 terawatt-hours per year—equivalent to approximately 57% of the United States’ 2019 power generation.

Follow along on the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)’s Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook channels for more #WaterWednesday content each week.

Ocean, beach, and birds.

Announcements, Opportunities, & Upcoming Deadlines

DOE Announces Finalists Advancing to Final Stage of “Waves to Water” Desalination Prize: Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced five winners in the CREATE Stage of the Waves to Water Prize, a competition focused on using the power of ocean waves to develop clean-energy-powered desalination technologies that can provide potable water to communities in need. Winners have advanced to the final stage of the prize, the DRINK Stage. In the DRINK Stage, competitors have up to 180 days to build and ship their wave-powered desalination prototypes to Jennette’s Pier in North Carolina. The devices will undergo up to five days of testing in the open ocean and compete for $1 million in prizes.

UMERC Call for Board of Directors Nominations: The Pacific Ocean Energy Trust (POET) is now accepting nominations for the first board of directors for the University Marine Energy Research Community (UMERC), a DOE Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) initiative to increase collaboration among U.S. marine energy researchers. The nomination portal is open now through Sept. 30, 2021, and you can nominate yourself or a colleague for one of the seats on the board

Mooring belt.

Sandia Seeking Input on Power Take-Off and Mooring Lines for Marine Energy Applications: As part of the WPTO-funded Power Take-off (PTO) and Mooring Lines Reliability Testing Facility project, Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) is requesting input from researchers and developers to help them understand the testing needs around PTO and mooring line, as well as umbilical cable reliability for marine energy applications. As part of this project, Sandia aims to develop a facility in 2022 that enables short- and long-term testing to understand the mechanical properties and technical limitations of ropes, belts, and cables used for marine energy applications.

Please contact Budi Gunawan ( to discuss your specific testing needs and fill in a short questionnaire.

Products & Publications

Sandia Interactive Wave Energy Education Display Video: Marine energy researchers at Sandia recently released a video for the Sandia Interactive Wave Energy Education Display (SIWEED). The unique, hands-on experience comprises a small wave tank—about the size of a fish tank—a wave maker, a small wave energy converter, and a small model town. If you’re interested in building your own version of the SIWEED project, you can get instructions and source code on GitHub.

Sandia and Partners Publish Two New ECCA Articles: Two new Environmental Compliance Cost Assessment (ECCA) papers from scientists at Sandia and their partners examine the costs and lessons learned from permitting marine renewable energy projects and propose solutions for improved efficiencies and effectiveness. Partners on the ECCA project team include Kearns & West, H. T. Harvey & Associates, and Integral Consulting.

Sandia Marine Energy Researcher Publishes Benchmarking Exercise: Sandia researcher Ryan Coe recently co-authored the Ocean Engineering article titled, “A benchmarking exercise for environmental contours,” an output of an open benchmarking exercise, in which contributors developed environmental contours based on their preferred methods and submitted them to a blind comparison study.

Upcoming Webinars & Events

POET's Ocean Renewable Energy Conference

Sept. 22–23, 2021

POET will be celebrating its 15th year hosting the Ocean Renewable Energy Conference. The virtual conference will focus on a range of subjects pertinent to the marine renewable energy landscape. Staff from WPTO and the national labs will participate.

WPTO Workshop: Materials and Manufacturing Strategy for Marine Energy Technologies

Oct. 5, 2021, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. ET
Register Now

Join WPTO and partners for a virtual workshop focused on strategic initiatives for materials and manufacturing research and development (R&D) to accelerate marine energy technology commercialization. The workshop will provide an overview of marine energy technologies, present the current landscape of materials and manufacturing R&D, and discuss a draft of the WPTO Marine Energy Materials and Manufacturing Strategy. Participants are invited to provide feedback on the strategy and priorities.

In Case You Missed It

Ocean Observing Prize Competitors to Make a SPLASH in the Olympic Peninsula: WPTO and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have officially announced that the 2022 Powering the Blue Economy™: Ocean Observing Prize competitors will test their marine-energy-powered ocean observing prototypes on the Olympic Peninsula, off of Washington state, in fall 2022. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will host this final stage of the SPLASH Contest.

Group of people stand with equipment.

Wave-Powered SeaRAY Prepares for Hawaii Sea Trial: A new, wave-powered, renewable energy device—called the SeaRAY autonomous offshore power system (AOPS)—could power offshore work and help protect our oceans and climate. SeaRAY’s designer, C-Power, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers are preparing the device for its first open-ocean trial in Hawaii in the fall of 2021. Soon, the SeaRAY AOPS could provide clean energy for aquaculture, ocean mineral mining, oceanographic research, military missions, or even desalination devices for remote communities and natural disaster recovery situations.

Sandia-NREL WEC-Sim Project Announced as R&D 100 Awards Finalist: Finalists for the 2021 R&D 100 Awards have been announced by R&D World magazine, which includes Sandia’s and NREL’s WEC SIMulator (WEC-Sim). Funded by WPTO, the WEC-Sim is an open-source code for simulating WECs.

ORPC Secures $25 Million in Growth Capital by Canadian Shield Capital and Hatch: The Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) announced that it secured a $20 million investment commitment from a consortium led by Canadian Shield Capital in alliance with Hatch with an additional $5 million closing this fall. Proceeds will be used to finance ORPC’s growth, including the installation of multiple devices in its targeted markets—notably the WPTO-funded RivGen® Power System in Igiugig, Alaska. For more information on the RivGen® Power System, check out last month’s feature from The Weather Channel.

Sandia Researchers Featured in Journal of Ocean Engineering and Marine Energy: Earlier this year, the Journal of Ocean Engineering and Marine Energy published The MBARI-WEC: a power source for ocean sensing, authored by Sandia researchers. The paper provides a description of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s WEC to support future open-source access to the device and further the general development of similar wave energy systems.

WPTO in The News

Marine Mentions