Two people are sitting side by side at a table. One person is speaking into a microphone.
WPTO Director Jennifer Garson speaks during the “New Infrastructure Funding—Breaking Down the Details” session at Waterpower Week.

During Waterpower Week, which took place April 5–7, 2022, in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) launched two collegiate competitions, a new prize, and a request for information (RFI). The office also provided an update on additional recent activities.

In case you missed them, here’s a recap of the exciting announcements:

  • Applications are closing this week for the inaugural Hydropower Collegiate Competition (HCC) and fourth annual Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC). These competitions offer participants the opportunity to develop solutions to complex energy challenges and build real-world experience and professional connections, paving the way for students to start their clean energy careers. Applications for the HCC and MECC are available online. The deadline to apply for both competitions is May 8, 2022.
  • The new Hydropower Operations Optimization (H2Os) Prize challenges innovators to employ modeling, data analytics, and machine learning to create new ways for hydropower systems to coordinate with existing grid scheduling practices and meet water management needs, such as water supply, environmental flow requirements, and flood management. A prize pool of up to $75,000 is available to innovators developing new solutions that can help advance hydropower’s contribution to the grid. Submissions for Phase 1 of the prize are due on May 20, 2022.
  • Waterpower Week also served as a launching point for an RFI on climate change data and research needs to inform hydropower operation and resource planning. The information collected from this RFI will help WPTO design future research and development initiatives, tools, and datasets that address the risk of long-term climate change on hydropower generation and reduce a utility’s burden in conducting its own full-scale climate risk assessment. Responses are due by June 6, 2022, at 5 p.m. ET.
Four people are standing together talking. One person’s back is to the camera with one person facing the camera. Two other people are standing in profile with a person on the right gesturing.
WPTO staff meet with fellow Waterpower Week attendees.

In addition to these announcements, WPTO staff discussed water power-focused investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The law provides $910 million for hydropower and marine energy programs under DOE, including $753.6 million for hydropower facilities to improve efficiency, maintain dam safety, reduce environmental impacts, and ensure generators continue to provide emission-free electricity. More information about the hydropower incentives programs funded in the BIL is available on the WPTO website.

WPTO staff also discussed the office’s first Multi-Year Program Plan, which serves as an operational guide to help manage and coordinate its activities, as well as a vehicle to communicate WPTO’s mission, goals, and plans to water power stakeholders and the public. The report details the office’s research, development, demonstration, and commercial activities for the coming years and outlines how these efforts are important to meeting the nation’s energy and sustainability goals.

“[The MYPP] is our way of articulating out to industry some of our priorities and activities, more details of what we’re doing presently, and what we plan on doing in the next five years,” said WPTO Director Jennifer Garson.

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