In 2020 and 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) advanced hydropower and marine energy technologies to help realize water power’s full potential to contribute to a clean energy future.
Letter from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly Speakes-Backman
It has been an exciting year at DOE and in WPTO. Partners across the country led and supported dozens of WPTO-funded research, development, and demonstration projects, contributing to crucial efforts to address climate change and transition our energy system. The hydropower and marine energy industries have essential roles in achieving the Biden administration’s goals of creating a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050.
Letter from the Water Power Technologies Office Director Jennifer Garson
On behalf of WPTO, I am pleased to present our 2020–2021 Accomplishments Report. This report highlights numerous achievements and results from WPTO-supported research across our Hydropower and Marine Energy programs, including new tools and resources for project developers, numerous in-water deployments of emerging technologies, and engaging science, technology, engineering, and math outreach efforts.
Hydropower, which uses the flow of moving water to generate electricity, is one of the oldest and largest sources of renewable energy. In 2020, it accounted for more than 7% of U.S. electricity generation and nearly 37% of U.S. renewable electricity generation. Meanwhile, pumped storage hydropower remains the largest contributor to U.S. energy storage with an installed capacity of 21.9 gigawatts, which accounts for 93% of utility-scale energy storage capacity in the United States.
WPTO's Hydropower Program conducts R&D and applied science to advance transformative, cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally sustainable hydropower and pumped storage technologies; better understand and capitalize on opportunities for these technologies to support the nation’s rapidly evolving grid; and improve energy-water infrastructure and security. The program’s vision is a U.S. hydropower and pumped storage industry that modernizes and safely maintains existing assets, responsibly develops new low-impact hydropower, promotes environmental sustainability, and supports grid reliability, integration of other energy resources, and energy-water systems resilience.
To achieve this mission and vision, the Hydropower Program comprises five R&D activity areas, which represent the program’s strategic approach to addressing the challenges facing U.S. hydropower stakeholders. Success stories in the WPTO 2020–2021 Accomplishments Report are presented within these activity areas:
Innovations for Low-Impact Hydropower Growth
Grid Reliability, Resilience, and Integration (HydroWIRES Initiative)
Fleet Modernization, Maintenance, and Cybersecurity
Environmental and Hydrologic Systems Science
Data Access, Analytics, and Workforce Development
Notable Fiscal Year 2021 Hydropower Investments
Marine energy resources—such as wave, tidal, and ocean and river currents—are abundant, geologically diverse, energy dense, predictable, and complementary to other renewable energy sources. Marine energy technologies are at an early stage of development because of the fundamental challenges of generating power from a dynamic, low-velocity, and high-density resource while withstanding corrosive marine environments. High costs and lengthy permitting processes associated with in-water testing intensify these challenges.
WPTO's Marine Energy Program (formerly the Marine and Hydrokinetics Program) conducts transformative research that advances the development of reliable, cost-competitive marine energy technologies and reduces barriers to deployment. The program’s vision is a U.S. marine energy industry that expands and diversifies the nation’s energy portfolio by responsibly delivering power from ocean and river resources.
To achieve this mission and vision, the Marine Energy Program comprises four core R&D activity areas and one initiative, which represent the program’s strategic approach to addressing the challenges facing U.S. marine energy stakeholders. Success stories in the WPTO 2020–2021 Accomplishments Report are presented within these areas:
Technology-Specific System Design and Validation
Reducing Barriers to Testing
Data Access, Analytics, and Workforce Development
Powering the Blue Economy™
Notable Fiscal Year 2021 Marine Energy Investments
WPTO's Hydropower e-newsletter features news on R&D and applied science to advance sustainable hydropower and pumped-storage technologies.
WPTO's Marine Energy e-newsletter shares news and updates on tools, analysis, and emerging technologies to advance marine energy.
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