Illustration/DEEC-Tec-based wave energy system (Courtesy of US DOE)

United States opens $2.3M competition for novel wave energy technologies

The US Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has launched a new competition for developers investigating novel technologies for harnessing and converting the power of ocean waves into usable types of energy. 

Illustration/DEEC-Tec-based wave energy system (Courtesy of US DOE)
Illustration/DEEC-Tec-based wave energy system (Courtesy of US DOE)
Illustration/DEEC-Tec-based wave energy system (Courtesy of US DOE)

The Innovating Distributed Embedded Energy Prize (InDEEP) prize seeks to foster the development of distributed embedded energy converter technologies (DEEC-Tec – pronounced ‘deck-tech’), which combine many small energy converters, often less than a few centimeters in size, into a single, larger ocean wave energy converter.

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This larger system could convert energy from a wide range of ocean locations and wave types. InDEEP aims to support early-stage DEEC-Tec research that lays the foundation for the eventual deployment of these technologies at all scales, including to provide power to electricity grids.

Over two years and three phases, InDEEP will incentivize the development of novel DEEC-Tec-based concepts with a focus on the following goals:

  • Leverage wave energy converter innovation methods to systematically develop DEEC-Tec concepts that could bring value to the ocean wave energy industry,
  • Build a solver community by engaging and facilitating collaboration between diverse innovators in the marine energy industry and related DEEC-Tec disciplines,
  • Encourage development of novel DEEC-Tec with high potential relevant to wave energy converters by supporting an interdisciplinary set of competitors from ideation to design,
  • Refine wave energy converter innovation methods to incorporate ideas beyond the field of wave energy based on feedback from the prize.

The prize phases will increase in complexity for competitors. Phase I will center on team building and concept creation, awarding up to 20 teams $15,000 each. The first phase is now open for submissions and will close on August 25, 2023. 

Phase II will be open to both new and returning competitors, focusing on a simple prototype proof-of-concept for a single distributed embedded energy converter. The third and final phase will invite Phase II winners to combine multiple distributed embedded energy converters into a structure that will be tested in a laboratory.

In addition to cash prizes, competitors will receive support such as training in innovation methods, connections with commercialization mentors, and the chance to learn more about the marine energy field.

InDEEP aims to facilitate knowledge transfer among industries focused on distributed embedded energy converters. The prize welcomes participation and submissions from diverse, multidisciplinary teams, including those with and without experience in marine energy. Those new to the industry will have the opportunity to gain knowledge through trainings and engagement with wave energy experts. 

The competition is funded by WPTO and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories.

Wave energy is the most abundant and geographically diverse marine energy resource in the United States. The total available wave energy resource found in US waters is equivalent to approximately 34% of all US power generation in 2019.

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