The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and the Minority-Serving Institutions STEM Research and Development Consortium (MSRDC) opened a $1.2 million funding opportunity to support promising, potentially high-impact water power research ideas from minority-serving colleges and universities. Inspired by its successful Seedlings and Saplings program for DOE national laboratories, WPTO is launching this program as part of its “Seedlings for Universities” initiative to seed research and development activities in academic institutions that do not have significant existing water power research portfolios.  

Water power technologies, including marine energy and hydropower, are key to achieving a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 and a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050. These resources depend on the movement and flow of water and are, therefore, predictable and reliable. This makes them well-suited to help balance an electricity grid with higher levels of variable renewable energy like wind and solar.   

This opportunity seeks innovative and practical solutions to advance water power technologies. WPTO seeks applications for:  

  • New and innovative ideas to advance marine energy, including opportunities to engage blue economy markets and end users. This topic seeks projects that support WPTO’s Marine Energy Program goals and may include addressing technology challenges, engaging end users in the industry and the communities these technologies may be deployed in, and discovering and developing new use cases for marine energy integration. WPTO is also interested in research frameworks to help understand and mitigate socioeconomic risks of marine energy development. WPTO seeks projects that will provide the assessments of qualitative and quantitative social and economic data needed to understand potential risks and benefits of marine energy development for communities and local economies.
  • Hydrologic and/or hydropower systems modeling for climate resilience. Changing climate and weather patterns can create significant challenges for water and power management. While widely available forecasting and prediction products help address management challenges, there remain significant opportunities for model improvements, new model development, and uncertainty analysis. WPTO seeks advancements in models and analytics that attempt to understand the impact of changing water availability and quality on hydropower and reservoir systems. Examples of this type of work include applications of artificial intelligence, machine learning, signal processing, decision making under deep uncertainty, or other approaches that improve data analysis.

This opportunity also includes an open topic that seeks ideas for research and development activities that more broadly support objectives outlined in WPTO’s Multi-Year Program Plan

Concept papers are due September 12, 2023, followed by full proposals on October 13, 2023. For more information on this opportunity, visit the MSRDC website.  

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