US invests $22 million in marine energy R&D infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has announced 10 project selections totaling up to $22 million to support marine energy research and development (R&D) and testing infrastructure.

A photo illustration of Naval Surface Warfare Center's Maneuvering and Seakeeping Basin in Carderock (Courtesy of DOE)
Illustration/Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping Basin in Carderock (Courtesy of DOE)

Seven out of the 10 projects selected will leverage the expertise and intellectual capital of non-federal research institutions, like universities, by supporting foundational R&D to complement research at the DOE National Labs, DOE said.

As the marine energy industry continues to grow and mature, there is an ongoing need for testing at all stages of technological development to continue to advance marine energy technologies towards commercialization.

Therefore, DOE is adding a fourth National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NMREC) to its portfolio in the U.S. Atlantic region, complementing and expanding existing NMREC capacity.

Daniel R Simmons, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, said: “For industry to move toward commercialization, we need to utilize all of our available resources. With this funding opportunity, we addressed several critical gaps in the marine energy industry to advance early-stage R&D and build testing infrastructure, as well as foster collaboration among non-federal research entities”.

Additionally, DOE is funding another infrastructure project to fill a specific gap in testing capabilities for current energy converters that can accommodate rotors as large as 8 meters in diameter. This type of capability is important to advance tidal and ocean current energy converters, according to DOE.

Spanning the United States, WPTO selected the following projects for negotiations:

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute: Open Wave-Energy Control System Development Platform
  • Oregon State University: Co-Design of Marine Energy Converters for Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Docking and Recharging
  • Tufts University: Wave Energy Technology Assessment for Optimal Grid Integration and Blue Economy Advancement
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks: Modeling the Integration of Marine Energy into Microgrids
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: New Blade Materials for Marine Energy Converters Operating in Highly Turbulent Currents
  • University of  Maine: Research and Development of Additive Manufacturing Technologies for Marine Energy Systems
  • University of Washington: A Unified Multiphysics Approach for Modeling, Control, and Optimization of Wave Energy Converters
  • University of New Hampshire: Atlantic Marine Energy Center (AMEC) for Advancing the Marine Renewable Energy Industry and Powering the Blue Economy
  • Pacific Ocean Energy Trust: Foundational Research Network Facilitator (FRNF): Marine Energy Knowledge Hub
  • IDOM Incorporated: Current Energy Converters Mobile Testing Vessel

These investments will further accelerate marine energy innovation by tackling complex scientific and technical issues facing industry today, DOE said.