The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) hosted its latest semiannual stakeholder webinar on Nov. 9, 2022, and shared details with hydropower and marine energy stakeholders from industry, academia, and government on the office’s latest funding opportunities, accomplishments, and projects. Speakers focused on a major theme throughout the webinar: the historic amount of funding available for water power projects as a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. The WPTO team also spotlighted new studies on hydropower’s potential in the United States, marine energy device deployments, recent prize competitions, and workforce development activities.
WPTO Director Jennifer Garson kicked off the webinar by highlighting the water power topics in the next round of funding available through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program (expected to open on Dec. 12, 2022), the latest round of communities selected for technical assistance through DOE’s Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project, and a recent summit that brought together the 18 teams participating in the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize.
The summit "is a way for us to really build out a community of peers and share knowledge about the different resources that we have available through that prize,” said Garson. During the event, Garson sat down with David Turk, DOE’s Deputy Secretary, to discuss how initiatives like the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize are critical to helping the country achieve an equitable and fair clean energy transition.
Garson went on to discuss WPTO’s recent Peer Review, during which 31 reviewers evaluated more than 100 projects active in Fiscal Years 2019–2021. “We really believe that peer review is important,” she said. “It’s a way for our external stakeholders to provide feedback on the most impactful use of our funding.”
The WPTO team highlighted several open funding opportunities focused on advancing hydropower and marine energy research and development. This includes three opportunities with deadlines approaching in early December 2022:
- Concept papers for the Innovative Technologies to Enable Low-Impact Hydropower and Pumped Storage Hydropower Growth funding opportunity are due Dec. 1, 2022.
- Concept papers for the Marine Energy Systems Innovation at Sea funding opportunity are due Dec. 2, 2022.
- Concept papers for the Advancing Fish Passage and Protection Technologies funding opportunity are due Dec. 5, 2022.
Speakers also discussed the latest Hydropower and Water Innovation for a Resilient Electricity System (HydroWIRES) Technical Assistance Program, which offers an opportunity for hydropower developers and other stakeholders to receive technical assistance from DOE’s national laboratories to advance hydropower’s role on the electricity grid. The technical assistance opportunity specifically aims to provide pumped storage hydropower developers and other stakeholders with national lab expertise and capabilities to address valuation hurdles in project development. It will also provide the broader hydropower community with assistance for specific challenges they face related to the HydroWIRES mission. Statements of Interest for this technical assistance are due Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.
Tim Ramsey, Marine Energy Program Manager, highlighted a notice of intent to provide $35 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to advance tidal and river current energy systems. The notice of intent proposes a funding opportunity, expected to be released in early 2023, to develop a tidal or river current research, development, and demonstration site and to support in-water demonstration of at least one tidal energy system.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lead Ashley Brooks discussed WPTO’s workforce development activities, highlighting the recent hydropower workforce report published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Marine Energy Graduate Student Research Program, which is accepting applications from master’s and doctoral students for its next cohort through Dec. 2, 2022.
Additional topics discussed during the webinar include:
- Hydroelectric incentives funding programs, including the latest selections for the Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program
- Recent hydropower reports such as:
- Drought Impacts on Hydroelectric Power Generation in the Western United States
- The Third Assessment of the Effects of Climate Change on Federal Hydropower
- An Assessment of Non-Powered Dam Hydropower Development Opportunities in the United States
- An Assessment of Hydropower Potential at National Conduits
- Selections for the Technology Innovation to Increase Hydropower Flexibility funding opportunity
- Hydropower Operations Optimization (H2Os) Prize Phase One and Phase Two winners
- Recent HydroWIRES publications including:
- Updates on the Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research program
- Selections from Phase II of the Fiscal Year 2022 SBIR/STTR program
- Waves to Water Prize
- Ocean Observing Prize
- Hydropower and Marine Energy Collegiate Competitions
- 0:00 – Introduction by Maxine Hillman, Communications Analyst
- 4:23 – Jennifer Garson, WPTO Director
- 12:11 – Corey Vezina, Acting Hydropower Program Manager
- 21:20 – Samuel Bockenhauer, HydroWIRES Lead
- 32:54 – Tim Ramsey, Marine Energy Program Manager
- 46:50 – Ashley Brooks, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lead
- 50:21 – Q&A with WPTO
Stay in the know with WPTO! In addition to attending these semiannual webinars, stakeholders can learn more about the Hydropower and Marine Energy programs on the WPTO website. Subscribe to the monthly Hydro Headlines and Water Column newsletters, or the comprehensive, bimonthly Water Wire newsletter, to get information on funding opportunities, events, and other news.