The 2019-2020 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) Accomplishments report provides a compilation of some important successes within WPTO's research and development efforts for both the hydropower and marine energy industries.
Letter from the Water Power Technologies Office Director, Alejandro Moreno
On behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), I am delighted to present our 2019–2020 Accomplishments Report. In this report, we summarize some of the significant results from WPTO-supported research across the Hydropower and Marine Energy (formerly the Marine and Hydrokinetics) programs. While not intended to be a comprehensive overview of all the impactful projects within WPTO’s portfolio, this report highlights some of the achievements from the past 2 years. These accomplishments include successful laboratory and in-water tests of promising technologies, commercialization of environmental monitoring instrumentation, the release of new modeling code and decision-support tools, and efforts to improve open access to data. Many of these projects were supported through our traditional funding opportunity announcements, as well as by leveraging a variety of support mechanisms such as prizes, competitions, and notices of technical assistance.
Hydropower is the United States’ oldest source of renewable electricity, comprising nearly 7% of U.S. generation. In 2018, hydropower accounted for roughly 40% of U.S. renewable electricity generation, whereas pumped-storage hydropower (PSH) remains the largest contributor to U.S. energy storage with an installed capacity of 21.6 gigawatts (GW), or roughly 95% of all commercial storage capacity in the United States.
The Hydropower Program at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) conducts early-stage research and development (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 vision of the Hydropower Program 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 the mission and realize the vision, the Hydropower Program comprises five R&D activity areas, which represent the program’s strategic approach to addressing the challenges faced by U.S. hydropower stakeholders. Success stories within this year’s publication are presented within these activity areas:
Grid Reliability, Resilience, Integration, & Storage
Environmental & Hydrologic Systems Science
Fleet Modernization, Maintenance, & Cybersecurity
Hydropower Data Access & Analytics
Innovations for Low-Impact Hydropower Growth
For an abridged overview of the Hydropower Program’s successes, please see the Hydropower Program’s 2019–2020 Accomplishments Brochure.
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. These challenges are intensified by high costs and lengthy permitting processes associated with in-water testing.
The vision of the WPTO Marine Energy Program (formerly the Marine and Hydrokinetics Program) is a U.S. marine and hydrokinetic industry that expands and diversifies the nation’s energy portfolio by responsibly delivering power from ocean and river resources. To help realize the vision, the Marine Energy Program conducts transformative early-stage research that advances the development of reliable, cost-competitive marine energy technologies and reduces barriers to deployment. The Marine Energy Program comprises four core R&D activity areas and one initiative that represent the program’s strategic approach to addressing the challenges faced by U.S. marine and hydrokinetic stakeholders.
Success stories within this year’s publication are presented within these areas:
Powering the Blue Economy
Reducing Barriers to Testing
Technology-Specific System Design & Validation
Marine Energy Data Access & Analytics
For an abridged overview of the Marine Energy Program’s successes, please see the Marine Energy Program’s 2019–2020 Accomplishments Brochure.