Water Power Program Budget

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated $70 million in fiscal year 2016 (FY16) funds for the Water Power Program to research and develop marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) and hydropower technologies. Current activities supported by this budget include:


HydroNEXT: Activities will focus on technologies and tools to improve performance and sustainably increase generation at existing water resources infrastructures, in addition to the development and demonstration of technologies to lower the cost, improve the performance, and reduce the environmental impacts of hydropower for new stream‐reach development.

Low-Impact Hydropower Design and Testing: To reduce the cost and improve the environmental performance of hydropower technologies and facilities, the program will help leverage existing hydro mechanical test facilities to test low-impact technologies and advance plant design innovations.

Marine and Hydrokinetic

MHK Test Facility: The program will support front-end engineering and design of a multiberth, full-scale, grid-connected, open-water wave test facility. The results of this completed engineering and design phase will inform further facility construction funding.

Environmental Research and Risk Mitigation: The program will continue to coordinate with relevant federal agencies in MHK environmental research, monitoring, and data dissemination.  These efforts will help reduce the time and cost associated with siting and permitting MHK projects, currently a critical barrier in the technology development cycle.


For FY17, the Water Power Program's budget request is $80 million. In addition to the activities featured in the FY16 budget, priority activity areas for the Water Power Program's FY17 budget request include:


New Stream-Reach Development (NSD): The hydropower subprogram will competitively fund new research and development projects for innovative hydropower designs and construction methods that mitigate challenges from traditional construction methods, such as economic, operational, or environmental (e.g., blockage of fish migration or fish habitat fragmentation) factors. These efforts build on FY15 competitively selected projects focused on modular civil infrastructure and advanced powertrain components to enable reduced construction costs and minimized environmental footprints for hydropower-related construction.

Environmental Performance Evaluation: The subprogram will continue its multiyear efforts to develop metrics for evaluating the environmental performance of new and existing hydropower projects in the United States. Successful outcomes could support future development of more advanced environmental standards and/or low-impact certifications for hydropower projects, resulting in substantially accelerated project permitting and qualification under state or regional energy development plans.

RAPID: The hydropower subprogram will also complete the development of the Renewable Energy Application and Permitting Desktop (RAPID) toolkit for hydropower.

Marine and Hydrokinetic

Testing Infrastructure: The MHK subprogram will increase its investment in specialized testing infrastructure, which will directly accelerate development and deployment of U.S.-developed MHK technologies by reducing technical and financial risks, testing costs, and time to market of commercially ready systems.

Wave Energy Test Facility: Funding in FY17 will build on the subprogram’s FY16 engineering design and cost estimate, and leverage knowledge gained from existing test sites. FY17 will mark the procurement and construction of the nation’s first open-water, fully energetic, grid-connected wave energy test facility.

Demonstration Project Funding: Following development of novel high-energy capture wave energy conversion (WEC) concepts through the Wave Energy Prize, the MHK subprogram will fund system demonstrations to support the subprogram’s long-term approach. Through the design, buildout, and test of integrated WEC systems, the subprogram will demonstrate that the revolutionary performance requirements of the Wave Energy Prize can be met by a fully outfitted WEC system at a relevant scale (i.e., 1/10 to ¼ scale depending on archetype).

Resource Characterization: This characterization will identify locations where wave and tidal MHK technologies can be installed quickly to reliably demonstrate near-term commercial readiness. This first-of-its-kind wave classification scheme will allow developers to strategically design product lines according to resource classes.

For more information, see the Department of Energy’s FY17 Congressional Budget Request.


In 2008, the Energy Department established the Water Power Program to support both MHK and hydropower technologies. Prior to establishment of the Water Power Program, the Energy Department funded hydropower activities to develop cost-competitive technologies and reduce environmental impacts of hydropower from 1977–2006.

Graph showing the budget awards and requests from Fiscal Year 2008 to 2017.