Photo: Illustration/Oscilla Power’s Triton wave energy device concept (Courtesy of Oscilla Power)

US DOE awards $12M for marine energy and hydropower projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $12 million for marine energy and hydropower projects as part of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

Illustration/Oscilla Power’s Triton wave energy device concept (Courtesy of Oscilla Power)
Illustration/Oscilla Power’s Triton wave energy device concept (Courtesy of Oscilla Power)

These small business-led projects, selected by DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office, will drive innovation in water power technologies and contribute to the Biden administration’s goals of a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero-emissions economy by 2050.

The supported marine energy projects are divided into two topics – the co-development of marine energy technology at smaller scales, and the low-cost, user-friendly monitoring tools for marine hydrokinetic sites.

Under the first topic, the following five companies and projects were selected for support:

  • AquaHarmonics – Co-development of a magnetic power take-off (PTO) wave energy converter for an instrumentation buoy

In this project, the team will develop a high-power density, commercially viable, compact, and lightweight wave energy converter for powering end-user ocean observing instrumentation. The work will involve the design, manufacture, testing, and assembly of the wave energy converter and its components, as well as deployment and testing of an instrumentation buoy in the ocean.

  • Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) – Modular and scalable small-scale Mass-On-Spring wave energy converter (MOSWEC) PowerBuoy system for reliable powering of autonomous ocean monitoring systems

This project will involve the design, build, and ocean testing of the MOSWEC power module. The prototype is designed to power an offshore vessel monitoring system with applications in defense and security.

  • Oscilla Power – Wave-powered, radar-based ocean sensing systems

In this project, the team will build and test in the ocean the MicroTriton, a small wave energy converter platform. The project will involve completing the detailed design and constructing a MicroTriton system capable of supporting and powering a radar transmitter. The system will be tested off the North Carolina coast for several months.

  • Saht Energy – Hydrokinetic energy harvesting in constructed waterways

This project will involve testing and validating a new hydrokinetic turbine for generating power from slow and narrow channels in human-made waterways. Research will include flume testing, numerical studies, and a demonstration project.

  • Triton Systems – Wave energy harvesting to power LiDAR buoys

This project will involve the development of a wave energy converter that can power existing LiDAR buoys, which have substantial power requirements and are used to understand site-specific physical and environmental responses to marine and other types of renewable energy development.

For the second topic – the monitoring tools for marine hydrokinetic sites – the supported projects are as follows:

  • Hydronalix – ‘SEARCHER’ – Sea Remote Controlled Hydrographic Explorer and Recorder

This project will focus on refining and demonstrating remotely controlled, low-power, robotic, and unmanned devices designed to hear, measure, image, recognize, and monitor fish, invertebrates, and other sea life at different water depths using side-scan sonar, a 360-degree camera, a fish identification tracker device, and other technologies. The project team will incorporate additional sensors and capabilities for image acquisition, analysis, and evaluation.

  • Integral Consulting – Dashboard for marine energy site assessment and monitoring

This project will advance a wave energy resource assessment dashboard designed to inform siting, permitting, operations, and maintenance of marine energy projects. Research will focus on assimilating meteorological and oceanographic modeling products and low-cost, rapidly deployable monitoring solutions.

  • Marinesitu – Modular instrumentation and automated data processing for marine energy monitoring

This project involves developing and demonstrating modular optical camera systems, imaging sonar software, an instrument integration hub, and an automated, cloud-based data management system to create lower-cost instrumentation and user-friendly environmental monitoring tools. These tools are based on the University of Washington’s Adaptable Monitoring Package, which has been tailored for long-term monitoring at marine energy sites.

  • SubSeaSail –  ‘ASGUARD’ – Advanced Sea Going and Underwater Autonomous Research Device

In this project, the team will continue developing ASGUARD, a fully functional, long-duration vessel with an integrated solar/electrical system and sensors. The sensing capabilities can function up to 30 meters underwater and will include an acoustic system and an electromagnetic field sensor package that can measure electric and magnetic fields created around marine energy installations.


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