DOE Announces $27 Million To Accelerate Ocean Wave Energy Technology To Market

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $ 27 million in federal funding for research and development projects to convert energy from ocean waves into carbon-free electricity more efficiently. This funding opportunity aims to advance wave energy technologies toward commercial viability and supports the efforts of the Biden-Harris administration to build a clean energy economy that creates well-paying jobs and achieves net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Oregon is helping to lead the nation in our efforts to harness the unlimited energy potential in America’s oceans and lakes.” said secretary of energy Jennifer M.. Granholm. “With wave energy, we have the ability to feed more renewable energy into the grid and provide more sustainable energy in hard-to-reach communities. DOE’s investments in American companies and universities developing these new technologies will fuel our clean energy future. ”

Wave energy is a form of ocean energy that is trapped when wind blows across the surface of open water in oceans and lakes. A wave energy converter (WEC) is needed to convert the captured energy into carbon-free electricity, but testing ocean energy technologies in the open ocean is difficult due to the challenges and the few test sites available. In 2016, the DOE partnered with Oregon State University to build the PacWave South test facility – off the coast of Newport, Oregon, which will become the country’s first accredited, grid-connected, pre-approved, open-water wave energy test facility be .

The R&D and testing conducted as part of the Funding Opportunity (FOA) announcement, Advancing Wave Energy Technologies through Open Water Testing at PacWave, will be the first round of activities supported at the PacWave South Test Site. The work carried out under this FOA will also generate open access data that will benefit the entire WEC R&D community. This data includes wave, wind and ocean current resource measurements, geotechnical measurements and environmental monitoring measurements that will help improve future WEC system designs for PacWave and reduce the cost of future deployments.

“The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the surface of our planet, and we can capture the power of its waves, currents, and tides to power our homes, buildings, and communities. In the transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy, ocean energy has enormous potential as one of the last untapped renewable energy sources. Federal investment will help set them free. This funding for research, development and demonstration efforts at the PacWave test facility will catalyze this promising industry and build on the innovation of Oregon state researchers and Oregon employers. ” said US representative Suzanne Bonamici.

The projects will use the PacWave South facility to research technologies and processes to convert wave energy more efficiently and integrate the renewable energy into the grid and other blue economy markets. In particular, DOE funding will support projects that focus on:

  • Testing of WEC technologies at PacWave (up to $ 15 million in federal funding): This subject area focuses on testing wind turbine system designs for remote and microgrid applications, as well as open source WEC systems that aim to generate publicly available data and knowledge that will benefit the entire wind turbine industry.
  • Advance WEC Designs for PacWave (up to $ 5 million in federal funding): This subject area supports the development of the design of robust wind turbine systems for the generation of off-grid or grid-connected electricity. At the end of the award period, the developed systems would be ready for production, use and prototype tests at PacWave South.
  • Open Topic: Research and Development in Wave Energy at PacWave (up to US $ 7 million in federal funds): This subject area will use the PacWave test facility directly to conduct effective research and development in the field of wave energy that will advance the marine energy industry as a whole. This thematic area will support projects that advance WEC systems, system components, environmental monitoring technologies, instrumentation and predictive health monitoring systems, shaft measurement systems, and other assistive technologies.

The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Water Power Technologies Office has a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion across its project portfolio. Applicants are encouraged to work with universities and other educational institutions to build a solid pipeline of well-educated students as future experts in ocean energy in the United States. This FOA seeks to encourage the participation of underserved communities and underrepresented groups. Applicants are strongly advised to include people from groups historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) into their project teams.

Applicants must describe how diversity, equity and inclusion goals will be integrated into the project. Specifically, applicants are required to submit a Diversity, Equal Opportunities and Inclusion Plan that outlines the actions the applicant will take to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment, support people from under-represented groups in the STEM field, promote equality of opportunity and the Involving people from these foster groups in the project; and indicate the extent to which the project activities are located in or benefit from underserved communities.

The concept papers are due on August 13th and full applications are due on October 5th. An information webinar will take place on July 22nd. See the full announcement details HERE.

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