US small ocean energy businesses up for $20M government grants

Illustration/Wave energy device (Photo: YouTube/Screenshot)

US Department of Energy has issued its second funding opportunity for small businesses to address multiple research and development programs throughout the department.

Approximately $37 million has been made available for innovations that address various research programs across the US Department of Energy, including ocean energy developments as part of the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

Illustration/Wave energy device (Photo: YouTube/Screenshot)

The funding, to be distributed through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, will provide incentives for more than 100 new projects run by EERE, totaling approximately $20 million.

EERE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), which conducts early-stage research and development into new technologies that increase US hydropower and marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) generation, has listed for specific subtopics that will be considered in this round of funding for small businesses.

Namely, WPTO has expressed interest in proposals relating to microgrids which incorporate marine hydrokinetics and pumped storage hydropower produced power, which could improve grid resilience in remote communities.

Also, innovation proposals for ocean energy storage systems have been encouraged to come forward in the call. According to WPTO, energy storage is a critical component of renewable energy systems to overcome intermittency. Therefore, the department will fund research and development on novel ocean energy storage systems that can provide functions similar to electrochemical battery storage and are designed for integration with marine energy systems.

Other subtopics as part of the WPTO-run part of the call for applications include pumping and compression using marine and hydrokinetic energy, and high value critical mineral extraction from the ocean using marine energy.

Letters of intent for the Phase I grants are due by January 7, while the deadline for applications expires on February 25, 2019.

Rick Perry, the US Energy Secretary, said: “US small businesses are a crucial aspect in driving innovation and creating jobs in our economy. The SBIR and STTR programs are an excellent way for small businesses and the federal government to team up to advance scientific research and development, creating a more secure energy future for America.”

Nine EERE technology offices will fund and manage proposals under the topics – one for each technology office – Advanced Manufacturing, Bioenergy, Buildings, Fuel Cells, Geothermal, Solar, Vehicles, Water, and Wind, with three joint office topics – Advanced Manufacturing with Fuel Cells, Advanced Manufacturing with Geothermal, and Advanced Manufacturing with Solar.

The 41 subtopics up for EERE’s $20 million range from Algae Engineering to Wind Turbine Blade Recycling, and there are also three Office of Technology Transfer Opportunity (TTO) subtopics.

Phase I grants are 6-12 months in duration with maximum award amounts of $200,000. Small businesses that successfully complete their research in Phase I will compete for funding in the fiscal year 2020 to carry out prototype or processes research and development during Phase II, the department said.

Phase II grants are up to two years in duration with maximum award amounts of $1.1 million or $1.6 million, depending on the research topic, according to US Department of Energy.