On February 10, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its portion of the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Request. President Donald J. Trump’s FY 2021 DOE Budget Request totals $35.4 billion, including $45 million for the Water Power Technologies Office to support R&D and strengthen the body of scientific and engineering knowledge that enables industry to develop new technologies that increase U.S. hydropower and marine and hydrokinetic energy generation.
The FY 2021 request for WPTO includes funding to support the Energy Storage Grand Challenge and to continue its focus on hydropower and pumped-storage hydropower’s (PSH) roles in grid reliability and resiliency by continuing to support innovative PSH technologies and conducting new research to evaluate and improve the flexibility and grid services provided by hydropower and/or PSH. The program continues National Laboratory and industry R&D efforts to develop standard, modular, hydropower components and site designs for new opportunities at existing nonpowered dams. The program also supports an ongoing effort in hydropower plant upgrades and modernization to help provide the tools, technology, and analysis necessary to maintain and enhance the existing hydropower fleet. It also continues its work to develop turbine design and evaluation tools that improve fish passage and turbine efficiency in order to reduce the time, cost, and uncertainty in hydropower licensing.
In marine and hydrokinetics (MHK), the office will competitively select industry-led projects to test and validate performance of at least one wave device at PacWave, the nation’s first accredited grid-connected MHK test facility in a high-energy site. The program continues assistance to private industry to test early stage subscale marine energy systems, in collaboration with U.S. universities and the National Laboratories and through its partnerships with the Navy. Monitoring of open water tests and continued analysis and dissemination of the results of new research is also supported to reduce perceived environmental risk and the time associated with device permitting. The program will scope funding opportunities or prizes in non-utility scale markets under its Powering the Blue Economy Initiative. This initiative includes the advancement of research to demonstrate marine energy’s potential to desalinate seawater, prove the feasibility of tidal devices in remote communities, and scoping and analyzing the viability of designing marine energy systems to distributed ocean applications, as well as continued R&D in advanced controls, working with industry to validate the most promising systems.
For more information on WPTO funding, see Volume 3, Part 1 of DOE’s FY2021 Budget Justification.