2017 was a big year for water power—from creating innovative fish tags that ensure sustainable hydropower growth to constructing a national wave energy test site. As we enter the new year, the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) will continue advancing cutting-edge technology to modernize the U.S. hydropower fleet and drive U.S. leadership in marine energy (MHK), with the goal of delivering low cost, reliable power and resiliency to the nation's electricity grids. Here's a look back at water power in 2017.
1. At the direction of the U.S. Congress, WPTO became its own dedicated office in late 2016 to support early stage R&D essential for the water power industry and welcomed a new director, Alejandro Moreno.
2. Subject matter experts from across the water power industry evaluated DOE-funded water power research and development projects at WPTO's semi-annual Peer Review in Arlington, Virginia.
3. Development of a fully permitted, grid-connected national wave energy test site is underway to advance marine energy technologies. Follow the progress of the Pacific Marine Energy Center South Energy Test Site (PMEC-SETS) in Newport, Oregon with occasional features on WPTO's website.
4. WPTO unveiled the HydroWISE website. HydroWISE is a portal for DOE-funded data, tools, maps, publications, and hydropower research and development projects from industry and five national laboratories. It houses the Energy Department's hydropower-related resources in one location, making it easier to search and access information.
5. More than 65 hydropower industry executives, government leaders, and technology researchers discussed R&D needs and how companies can collaborate with DOE national laboratories to accelerate hydropower innovation at WPTO's Executive Summit on Hydropower Research and Development. As a result of industry's feedback at that event, WPTO announced $2.5 million in available funding for innovative upstream and downstream solutions to provide effective fish passage through hydropower dams while reducing construction and operation costs.
6. Marine energy technology developers and industry stakeholders along with experts from new high-potential markets gathered at WPTO's WPTO's Marine Energy Technologies Distributed and Alternate Applications Forum. There they discussed new potential applications for marine energy and how emerging technologies capturing wave and tidal power can help meet the energy needs of a range of coastal and marine industries.
7. The Energy Department's national laboratories continued to make strides in advancing technologies for the water power industry. In hydropower, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory created a series of advanced fish tags that monitor the effects of hydropower on migratory fish like salmon, eel, and lamprey to ensure environmental issues are addressed for sustainable hydropower growth. In MHK, researchers from Sandia National Laboratories teamed up with the U.S. Navy to help improve the efficiency of wave energy devices through advanced controls.
8. Hydropower has long been the nation's largest source of renewable electricity, providing not only baseload energy, but energy storage and essential services to the electric grid. In 2017, experts from industry, academia, and the national laboratories were brought together to support efforts to model the value and long-term costs of essential reliability services that hydropower and PSH projects provide to the grid—a major need identified by industry at WPTO's 2017 Executive Summit on Hydropower Research and Development, and by Congress in FY17 appropriations legislation.
9. The Energy Department announced up to $12 million to support the development of innovative technologies capable of generating reliable and cost-effective electricity from U.S. marine energy resources. Four projects were selected, including the previous grand prize winner of DOE's Wave Energy Prize.
10. WPTO broadcasted its first Facebook Live from the HydroVision International tradeshow floor. It showcased WPTO funding awardees Whooshh Innovations, Natel Energy, and the Hydro Research Foundation.