Last week, nine teams of finalists presented their proposals for the Fish Protection Prize’s PITCH CONTEST at the American Fisheries Society Virtual Annual Meeting. Following two days of pitches, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Bureau of Reclamation selected three prize winners.

"The Fish Protection Prize winners and their inventive methods and technologies can help us meet the dual imperative of energy generation and environmental stewardship," said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R. Simmons. "These types of solutions are critical to advancing next-generation water power technologies and strengthening existing water infrastructure nationwide."

Focused on developing more reliable and sustainable water structures while protecting fish from traveling into potentially unsafe waters, diversions, and intakes, the Fish Protection Prize was conducted in partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation, and is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in collaboration with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The goal of the Prize is to improve fish protection, or exclusion, technologies to decrease the number of fish susceptible to river and canal diversions, unscreened diversion pipes, or intakes at hydropower dams.

The prize-winning teams, receiving both cash and voucher support from PNNL, include the following:

  • Grand prize: Benjamin Mater of Alden Research Laboratory and Charles Coutant, Making a Deal with the Devilfish: Biometric-Informed Screening Technology
  • Second place: Nicholas and Kenneth LaBry of Prometheus Innovations, LLC, Fish Diversion Material & Inspection Improvements
  • Third place: Sterling Watson and Abe Schneider of Natel Energy, The Center Sender.

During the PITCH CONTEST, each team presented a 10-minute pitch, followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer period—introducing their concepts, discussing the technical and market feasibility of their ideas, and presenting their overall research and development plans. The winning teams will split $700,000 in the form of cash and in-kind support to further their solutions, with expertise provided by PNNL to evolve and develop their concepts.

Today, DOE also announced a change to the existing I AM Hydro Prize. The I AM Hydro Prize, which was announced in June by Assistant Secretary Simmons, has extended the application period to October 30, 2020. The I AM Hydro Prize aims to strengthen hydropower by applying advanced manufacturing technologies to reduce construction costs and repair frequency, improve efficiency and energy capture, and more.

Finally, DOE announced another new addition to WPTO’s prize portfolio, the Groundbreaking Hydro Prize, which is now open for applications. Through this prize, competitors are asked to develop new ideas to cut the costs, timelines, and risks associated with hydropower development. This prize is accepting applications until January 31.

To learn more about EERE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and its suite of prizes, visit the WPTO website.