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During a Facebook Live event earlier today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons announced the launch of the Innovations in Advanced Manufacturing for Hydropower (I AM Hydro) Prize, a new competition designed to lower costs and improve the performance of hydropower components and facilities by using advanced manufacturing. Additionally, in partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation, he announced the winners of the first, or CONCEPT, stage of the Fish Protection Prize, a competition designed to solicit creative methods to increase the energy efficiency of dams by keeping fish out of water diversions and dam intakes.

"EERE has a diverse water power research portfolio aimed at improving our Nation's access to affordable, reliable, and clean electricity," said Assistant Secretary Simmons. "Today's announcements will leverage the power of advanced manufacturing to develop the next-generation water-power technologies and advance hydropower innovations that will help us meet the dual imperative of energy generation and environmental stewardship."

Funded by DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), the I AM Hydro Prize challenges competitors to leverage advancements in manufacturing and materials to dramatically reduce capital costs and increase performance of hydropower components and systems. Integrating advanced manufacturing methods with hydropower can improve conventional manufacturing—enhancing design flexibility, decreasing energy consumption, lowering costs, and reducing time to market.

Participants in the prize will compete for up to $250,000 in cash, which will be split among as many as 18 winners. Eligible participants will have 90 days to submit their concepts. Submissions will be judged based on innovation, impact, and feasibility. The competition is open to all innovators with ideas to transform hydropower technology using advanced manufacturing. WPTO is partnering with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to administer this prize. Part of the American-Made Challenges series, the I AM Hydro Prize will generate ideas in the following categories: joining, coating, and repair; additive and composite manufacturing; casting, forming, and machining; and advanced materials.

In addition, Assistant Secretary Simmons announced the 9 winners of the first, or CONCEPT, stage of the three-stage Fish Protection Prize. CONCEPT competitors submitted their approaches either for developing new, cost-effective fish exclusion methods at water diversions and intakes or for making improvements to existing technologies. These winners will each receive 50 hours of voucher support from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to help them improve their concepts during the upcoming INCUBATION Stage of the prize. The Fish Protection Prize builds on many years of collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of Interior.

The Fish Protection Prize will continue to invite innovators to submit concepts that increase energy efficiency by keeping fish safe from water infrastructure such as pipes and dam intakes. The Fish Protection Prize is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Lab.