Photo: ORPC’s RivGen device prior to installation in Igiugig, Alaska (Courtesy of ORPC)

US DOE selects eight marine energy projects for funding support

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated $2.6 million for 13 marine energy and hydropower projects as part of its program that supports research and innovation in small businesses.

ORPC’s RivGen device prior to installation in Igiugig, Alaska (Courtesy of ORPC)
ORPC’s RivGen device prior to installation in Igiugig, Alaska (Courtesy of ORPC)

The selected projects – eight focused on marine energy, and five focused on hydropower – are funded through US DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

According to US DOE, its Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) selected these small business-led projects as they can help spur water power-focused innovation across United States. The projects are also expected to help achieve the Biden administration’s goals of a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero-emissions economy by 2050.

The marine energy projects have been selected under two topics covering co-development of marine energy technologies with end user partners, and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) joint topic on community-driven solutions for a just and equitable energy transition.

The first batch includes the following projects:

  • C.A. Goudey & AssociatesA Novel Wave Energy Converter to Power Offshore Macroalgae

This project will test and model a wave energy converter technology that can power a ‘smart’ ocean-based macroalgae farm. The technology will allow shore-based farm managers to respond remotely to the farm’s operational needs.

  • E3tec ServiceRenewable Ocean Thermal Energy for Low-Pressure Desalination of Seawater with Co-Production of Ammonia

This project will develop and design a prototype ocean thermal energy system to produce power, desalinated water, and carbon-free ammonia for the ‘EcoVillage’ planned on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • EmrgyProviding Reliable Power to Coastal Communities Using Hybrid MHK Systems

Project partners will work with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to develop a hydrokinetic array (that generates electricity from flowing water) integrated into a hybrid system with solar energy and storage. This system will provide reliable power to a community that frequently experiences disruptions to the electric grid and high economic and environmental costs associated with the use of fossil fuel resources.

  • EOM OffshoreDevelopment of a Low-Cost, Low-Maintenance, Maximal Asymmetric Drag Wave Energy Converter

This project will advance development of a low-cost, low-maintenance, and easily deployable wave energy converter designed to provide energy for applications in the blue economy such as vehicles, buoys, ocean observation systems, and passive acoustic networks that can detect and characterize sounds in the ocean.

  • Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC)Upper Cook Inlet Electrofuels

The project team will design a device based on the RivGen Power System to generate tidal power in Cook Inlet in Alaska. The team will also create a microgrid design to enable the harnessing of cyclical tidal power for an electrofuel production facility.

  • Vortex Hydro PowerIntegrated Current-Wave Hydrokinetic Energy Harvester for Community Resilience and Benefits to Aquatic Fauna

The project team will design, build, and conduct preliminary testing of a versatile, small-scale, non-turbine device capable of harnessing energy from rivers, ocean currents, tides, and waves. This device could be an option in place of turbines in locations with space or other constraints or where they may disrupt water use, sensitive marine mammals, or fish migrations.

The projects supported under the joint topic with EERE are as follows:

  • Integral ConsultingEmpowering Communities with a Multi-Use Decision Support Dashboard to Participate in Marine Renewable Energy Planning and Development

The project team will collaborate with Redwood Community Action Agency and Santa Barbara Maritime Museum to engage disadvantaged community members and develop a user-friendly dashboard to give all stakeholders a data-driven voice in the marine renewable energy planning and development process. The interactive dashboard will help users visualize and understand ocean use data to promote meaningful stakeholder engagement and communications and informed and inclusive decision-making.

  • Ocean Motion TechnologiesImpactful Implementation of Next-Generation Ocean Data Infrastructure through Scalable Community and Stakeholder Engagement Programs

The project team will partner with the Ocean Foundation to leverage an ocean wave energy device to build a big-data platform for ocean data gathering. The project will involve a network of partners – including community-trusted project and scientific partners, coastal communities, and commercial pilot partners – to explore a ‘hardware-as-a-service’ business model to deliver this big-data infrastructure for ocean monitoring data at a reduced cost.


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