DOE Announces $27 Million To Accelerate Ocean Wave Energy Technology To Market

2 years ago

Funding Will Support Marine Energy R&D Projects That Will Diversify America’s Renewable Power Sources, Boost Carbon-Free Electricity

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $27 million in federal funding for research and development projects to convert energy more efficiently from ocean waves into carbon-free electricity. This funding opportunity aims to advance wave energy technologies toward commercial viability, and supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to build a clean energy economy that will create good-paying jobs and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Oregon is helping lead the nation in our efforts to harness the unlimited energy potential in America’s oceans and lakes,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With wave energy, we have the opportunity to add more renewable power to the grid and deploy more sustainable energy to hard to reach communities. DOE’s investments in America’s businesses and universities developing these new technologies will propel our clean energy future.”  

Wave energy is a form of marine energy that is captured when wind blows over the surface of open water in oceans and lakes. A wave energy converter (WEC) is needed to convert the captured energy into carbon-free electricity, but testing marine-energy technologies in the open ocean is difficult due to permitting challenges and the few available test sites. In 2016, DOE partnered with Oregon State University to build the PacWave South test facility — located off the coast of Newport, Oregon, this site will be the nation’s first accredited, grid-connected, pre-permitted, open-water wave energy test facility.  

The R&D and testing performed under the “Advancing Wave Energy Technologies through Open Water Testing at PacWave” funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will be the first round of activities supported at the PacWave South test site. Work performed under this FOA will also produce open-access data that will benefit the entire WEC R&D community. This data will include wave, wind, and ocean current resource measurements, geotechnical measurements, and environmental monitoring measurements that will help improve future WEC system designs for PacWave and reduce the costs of future deployments. 

“The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the surface of our planet, and we can capture the power of its waves, currents, and tides to help power our homes, buildings, and communities. As we transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy, marine energy has tremendous potential as one of the last untapped renewable energy sources. Federal investment will help unlock it. This funding for research, development, and demonstration efforts at the PacWave testing facility will catalyze this promising industry and build on the innovation of Oregon State researchers and Oregon employers,” said U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici. 

The projects will use the PacWave South facility to research technologies and processes to more efficiently convert wave energy and integrate the renewable power to the grid and other blue economy markets. Specifically, DOE funding will support projects focusing on: 

  • Testing WEC Technologies at PacWave (up to $15 million in federal funding): This topic area focuses on testing of WEC system designs intended for remote and microgrid applications, as well as open-source WEC systems that aim to generate publicly available data and knowledge to benefit the entire WEC industry. 
  • Advancing WEC Designs for PacWave (up to $5 million in federal funding): This topic area will support the development of designs of robust WEC systems to generate offgrid or grid-connected power. By the end of the award period, the systems designed would be ready for fabrication, deployment, and prototype testing at PacWave South. 
  • Open Topic: Wave Energy R&D at PacWave (up to $7 million in federal funding): This topic area will directly leverage the PacWave test facility to perform impactful wave energy R&D that will advance the marine energy industry as a whole. This topic area will support projects that advance WEC systems, system components, environmental monitoring technologies, instrumentation and prognostic health monitoring systems, wave measurement systems, and other supporting technologies. 

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Water Power Technologies Office have a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion across their portfolio of projects. Applicants are encouraged to collaborate with universities and other educational institutions to help develop a robust pipeline of well-trained students as future marine energy experts in the United States. This FOA seeks to encourage the participation of underserved communities and underrepresented groups. Applicants are highly encouraged to include individuals from groups historically underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) on their project teams.  
Applicants are required to describe how diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives will be incorporated in the project. Specifically, applicants are required to submit a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan that describes the actions the applicant will take to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment, support people from underrepresented groups in STEM, advance equity, and encourage the inclusion of individuals from these groups in the project; and indicate how the extent the project activities will be located in or benefit underserved communities. 

Concept papers are due August 13 and full applications are due October 5. An informational webinar will take place July 22. View the full announcement details HERE.  

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