Photo: Illustration (Courtesy of US DOE)

US DOE sets aside $10 million to advance marine energy innovation

The US Department of Energy (US DOE) has published a notice of intent to issue a $10 million funding opportunity to support innovation in the marine energy sector and contribute to the development of stronger blue economy markets.

Illustration (Courtesy of US DOE)
Illustration (Courtesy of US DOE)

The funding opportunity, expected to be officially issued in September 2022, will focus on supporting wave-powered technology innovation for seawater desalination, research and development for powering blue economy markets, and feasibility assessment for an ocean current test facility.

Issued through US DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), the proposed funding will support long-duration, at-sea testing as well as component-level research and development for specific challenges such as integrating wave energy with desalination systems and advancing anchoring and mooring technologies.

According to US DOE, the recently completed ‘Waves to Water Prize’ helped inform this funding opportunity, and both have a similar focus on robust and deployable solutions.

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Marine energy resources – such as wave, tidal, and ocean and river currents – are abundant, geographically diverse, energy dense, and complementary to other renewable energy sources.

Significant in-water testing has occurred in recent years, both domestically in the US and internationally, to prove performance and reliability of systems that could provide utility-scale levels of electricity to the grid.

In addition to providing clean energy to the electric grid, marine energy can serve the needs of many blue economy markets, including producing fresh water through desalination in disaster relief situations and to small communities, providing power for aquaculture and ocean sensing, and supporting coastal resilience by powering microgrids.

Therefore, this opportunity will also include funding to assess the feasibility of a facility capable of open ocean testing for current energy converter prototypes, which use the power of water currents to create electricity.

Projects should propose and evaluate potential locations, designs, and estimated costs for a test facility located off the coast of the eastern United States, the US DOE noted.

These efforts support WPTO’s Powering the Blue Economy initiative, which aims to foster long-term, sustainable growth of the blue economy by protecting the ocean, understanding and leveraging its immense power, learning the power needs of emerging coastal and maritime markets, and advancing marine renewable energy technologies.

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