Ocean Observing Prize Launches First Competition Round

A new $3-million prize that will help generate innovation in marine-energy-powered ocean-observing platforms is now open for applications.

The Powering the Blue Economy: Ocean Observing Prize will provide a new opportunity for the innovation community to develop marine energy technologies that enable more persistent and pervasive ocean measurements, working in partnership with end users in the ocean-observing community to address energy challenges.

The Ocean Observing Prize will consist of a series of competitions to encourage the development of new energy solutions that meet the needs of ocean researchers, agencies, explorers, and other end users that operate ocean-observing technologies.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is working with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Water Power Technologies Office, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to provide technical and engineering support for prize activities, as well as develop strategic partnerships with the ocean-observing community, blue economy clusters and accelerators, and the clean-tech community.

Ocean-observing platforms encompass a wide range of stationary and mobile technologies, including autonomous underwater vehicles, buoyancy gliders, profiling floats, weather and drifter buoys, and electronic tags for marine animals.

Marine energy offers a promising opportunity to help alleviate the power constraints that limit all ocean-observing missions, with implications for deployment duration, sampling rate, and the numbers and types of sensors and platforms deployed.

The U.S. Department of Energy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are seeking prize entries in five areas:

  • Unmanned vehicles;
  • Buoys, floats, and tags;
  • Ocean communications and underwater navigation;
  • Extreme environments;
  • “Blue-sea” ideas.

Competition 1 is the DISCOVER Competition, in which applicants have 90 days to propose their ideas. Up to six winners of this stage are anticipated to be announced in March 2020—a total cash prize pool of $125,000 is available.

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