The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have officially announced that the 2022 Powering the Blue Economy™: Ocean Observing Prize competitors will test their ocean observing prototypes in the SPLASH Contest next fall on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. This final stage of the competition is hosted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Aerial view of Sequim Bay and trees.
Image: Rob Cavagnaro

The testing will take place at two sites, one located in Sequim Bay and one in Clallam Bay. Sequim Bay was selected because of its relatively protected, calmer waters—an ideal scenario for competitors to test their devices in the ocean for the first time and practice maneuvering before heading to the open ocean. Clallam Bay offers the necessary wave conditions for competitors to demonstrate their devices’ wave-powered recharging capabilities. Competitors will have access to helpful data that details the area’s conditions as well as support from experts and engineering facilities at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory.

A boat sits in Clallam Bay.
Image: Andrea Starr

Scheduled for September 2022, the SPLASH Contest is designed to assess the endurance and performance of finalists’ wave energy harvesting, self-charging autonomous vehicles in real-world sea conditions. During the multi-day test, competing teams will demonstrate all functional aspects of their prototypes, including their ability to maneuver, self-charge, collect data, and communicate wirelessly. At the end of the test, one to three awards totaling up to $1.5 million will be awarded.

This joint prize competition between WPTO and NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Office seeks to develop new technologies that can revolutionize our ability to collect the data needed to understand, map, and monitor the ocean – current data gaps that make it difficult to realize the full potential of the Blue Economy.