WPTO Budget Over Time

Note: This graph shows annual appropriations and enacted funding only. This graph does not reflect the nearly $1B of BIL funding for hydropower and marine energy.

FY 2023 Appropriations for WPTO

On Thursday, December 29, 2022, the President signed into law H.R. 2617, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023,” making consolidated appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2023. The law provides $179 million for the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO). This represents an increase over the office’s prior year budget level and the office’s largest annual budget to date. Of the $179 million, Congress provided $59 million for hydropower and $120 million for marine energy. 

Within the Hydropower Program budget, the agreement directed WPTO to devote available funds to: 

  • demonstrate a modular pumped storage project;
  • expand the HydroWIRES initiative and continue efforts that support and demonstrate increased grid reliability and integration of other renewable energy resources, including applications to optimally integrate small hydropower with advancements in battery storage and other grid services;
  • continue industry-led research, development, demonstration, and deployment efforts of innovative technologies for fish passage and invasive fish species removal at hydropower facilities;
  • support analysis of hydrologic climate science and water basin data to understand the impact of climate change on hydropower;
  • support innovative analytics to optimize hydropower applications such as machine learning-based hydrologic forecasts and operations optimization technology advancement;
  • enable small hydropower innovation, testing, and initiatives, including industry-led competitive solicitations for advanced turbine demonstrations; improved environmental performance; standardized or modular project deployment applications; and advanced manufacturing and supply chain innovations;
  • begin design and engineering based on the outcome of the Department's ongoing scoping activities toward a network of hydropower testing facilities;
  • and support irrigation modernization demonstration and deployment activities including physical sites and digital tools that advance energy, water, environmental, community, and agricultural benefits. 

Within the Marine Energy Program budget, the agreement directed WPTO to devote available funds to:

  • create industry-led competitive solicitations to increase energy capture, improve reliability, and to assess and monitor environmental effects of marine energy systems and components at a variety of scales, including full-scale prototypes;
  • continue foundational research activities led by universities and research institutions affiliated with the National Marine Renewable Energy Centers and support operations at the centers;
  • address infrastructure needs at marine energy technology testing sites, including general plant projects, planning activities for the staged development of an ocean current energy test facility, and upgrades to facilities that provide cost effective open water access for prototype testing;
  • complete construction of the grid connected wave energy test facility;
  • fund the Department's Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory;
  • continue the Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research (TEAMER) Program;
  • and continue to execute the Powering the Blue Economy initiative by leveraging existing core capabilities at national laboratories in partnership with universities and industry. 

Additionally, the agreement expressed support for the Atlantic Marine Energy Center, directed the Department to continue to coordinate with the U.S. Navy and other federal agencies on marine energy technology development for national security and other applications, and to continue to focus on activities addressing the integration of clean energy systems for remote communities and port electrification. 

Lastly, the agreement encouraged the Department is encouraged to use its cost share waiver authority under section 988 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, when applicable and as appropriate, for water power technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities. 

FY 2024 Budget Request for WPTO

On March 9, 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration submitted to Congress a proposed FY 2024 budget request for the federal government. The package requested $52 billion for the Department of Energy, including about $230 million for WPTO (the exact total is $229,769,000). If granted, this would be a 28% increase compared to WPTO’s enacted budget for FY 2023. The budget request includes about $75 million for the Hydropower Program (the exact figure is $74,769,000), $105 million for the Marine Energy Program, and $50 million for a new subprogram focused on Regional Energy-Water Testing and Validation. 

The FY 2024 budget request emphasized that WPTO would focus on key areas of opportunity, include retrofitting existing hydropower facilities and powering non-powered dams to cost-effectively increase generation and flexibility; developing next generation pumped energy storage systems; launching a new effort to seed and establish Regional Energy-Water Demonstration facilities; and advancing marine energy technology to support new and growing industries utilizing waves, currents, tides, and gradient differentials (ocean thermal, pressure, and salinity). The proposed Regional Energy-Water Testing and Validation subprogram would focus on demonstrating technologies and solutions that address gaps between systems-level energy-water research and field deployment at regional and local scales, with a focus on regions experiencing acute energy-water issues. This new program would require coordination between WPTO, other EERE programs, and other DOE offices to integrate and scale existing technologies. 

For more information about the FY 2024 request and areas of emphasis for WPTO, see DOE’s FY 2024 Congressional Budget Justification. Information on WPTO can be found in the section on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Volume 4. 

Hydropower and Marine Energy Funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

In its first month in office, the Biden administration set an ambitious, yet worthwhile goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. To support this goal, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)—the largest federal investor in clean energy—will lead the charge as America makes this historic transition to a 100% clean energy future. With the clean energy investments in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the administration has already taken significant strides toward this goal. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a key piece in President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, includes more than $62 billion for DOE to deliver a more equitable clean energy future for the American people. 

As part of its aim to broaden communities’ access to clean energy, the law provides $910 million for hydropower and marine energy programs under DOE, including $753.6 million for hydropower facilities to improve efficiency, maintain dam safety, reduce environmental impacts, and ensure generators continue to provide emission-free electricity. The water power-specific provisions for DOE are under Division D—Energy, Subtitle D—Hydropower and Title X—Authorization of Appropriations for Energy Act of 2020: 

  • SEC. 40331. HYDROELECTRIC PRODUCTION INCENTIVES. (Revising Section 242 of EPAct05). This section authorizes $125 million for FY 2022 for hydroelectric production incentives until expended.
  • SEC. 40332. HYDROELECTRIC EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENT INCENTIVES. (Revising Section 243 of EPAct05). This section authorizes $75 million for FY 2022 for hydroelectric efficiency improvement incentives until expended.
  • SEC. 40333. MAINTAINING AND ENHANCING HYDROELECTRICITY INCENTIVES. (Adding a new incentive Section 247). This section directs the Secretary of Energy to make incentive payments to the owners and operators of hydroelectric facilities for capital improvements related to maintaining and enhancing hydroelectricity generation by improving grid resiliency, improving dam safety, and environmental improvements. This section authorizes $553.6 million with half of the funding provided in FY 2022 and the other half provided in FY 2023. Funds will remain available until expended.
  • SEC. 40334. PUMPED STORAGE HYDROPOWER WIND AND SOLAR INTEGRATION AND SYSTEM RELIABILITY INITIATIVE. This section directs the Secretary of Energy to establish a demonstration project for a pumped storage hydropower project to facilitate the long duration storage of intermittent renewable electricity. This section also establishes specific eligibility criteria. $10 million, or $2 million every year, are authorized for the period of FY 2022-2026.
  • SEC. 41006. WATER POWER PROJECTS This section authorizes $146.4 million for FYs 2022-2025 for hydropower and marine energy and National Marine Energy Centers. This breakout of this funding is $36 million for hydropower, $70.4 million for marine energy, and $40 million for the National Marine Energy Centers.