Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) announced the launch of the 2022 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC): Powering the Blue Economy™.

Managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on behalf of WPTO, the MECC inspires multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students to unlock the power of the ocean, rivers, and tides to develop, design, and test the technologies that build resilient coastal communities and provide power at sea.

The 2022 competition includes the development of a business plan, necessitating the engagement of students from a variety of academic backgrounds and diverse perspectives to generate a successful concept and team.

Encouraging tomorrow’s innovators to rise to the challenge, the 2022 MECC is now open for applications.

Photo of the ocean, waves are crashing in the foreground on rocks.
The 2022 MECC is now open for applications! Join the challenge and show us your blue economy best. Credit: Pixabay / Pexels

Multidisciplinary Solutions for Complex Challenges

Marine energy has the potential to power a host of exciting blue economy applications—from autonomous vehicles enabling further ocean exploration to desalination and water treatment to serve coastal and island communities. Optimizing the designs and reducing the costs of these promising technologies, however, will require further exploration and innovation.

To this end, the MECC teams will be tasked with designing a device that optimizes technology, reduces costs, and explores new opportunities for marine energy.

Possible submissions range from proposals for marine-powered applications for desalination, to offshore marine aquaculture to ocean observation, and other markets, including—but not limited to—those identified in DOE’s Powering the Blue Economy report

This year, competitors will have approximately one year to conceptualize and potentially test their devices in preparation of the 2022 pitches. Specifically, the teams will be asked to:

  • Develop a market-research-supported business plan and conceptual-level technical design of a system that could be commercialized to address power needs for a chosen sector of the blue economy
  • Pitch their plan to a panel of judges and hypothetical investors
  • Design, build, and test a device to achieve energy production (optional)
  • Engage with their community through outreach and educational activities.

Teams will deliver written submissions, market assessment and business pitches, and detailed technology designs for their chosen markets.

Expanding Horizons and Tomorrow’s Workforce

Beyond the thrill of competition, the MECC offers students the real-world experience and industry connections they need to prepare for future careers in the marine energy industry and the blue economy sector. 

“WPTO is excited about the launch of the third iteration of the MECC and the role these creative competitors can play in helping us grow the community of marine energy innovators,” said WPTO Competition Manager Allison Johnson. “Participation in the 2022 competition offers these students both hands-on experience in innovating tomorrow’s tech while forging meaningful connections across the sector.”

Join us on April 26-27 for the 2021 MECC virtual pitches. Catch a glimpse of this year’s submissions and get a splash of inspiration for the 2022 competition

Ready to take the plunge? Start sketching out those concepts and submit your applications by May 7, 2021. We hope you can join us this spring!

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and WPTO have a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion across their portfolio of projects. Accordingly, strong proposals to this competition should demonstrate a commitment to these values and, to the extent practical, should engage diverse team members. WPTO encourages participation from diverse entities, including Minority Serving Institutions.

Check out last year's requirements to get a head start on your submission and sign up for email alerts to keep up with the latest from the MECC. For updates on WPTO activities broadly, subscribe to the Water Wire.