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Letter from the Director

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) welcomes you to the first edition of our revamped Water Wire newsletter, your one-stop shop for all things water power. In the editions to come, you’ll find a balanced mix of WPTO happenings, announcements and opportunities, expert spotlights, multimedia features, project highlights, and more.

WPTO has been busy this past year, with major announcements, opportunities, and project milestones that continue to advance hydropower and marine energy technologies across the United States, and things are looking to ramp up even more as we set our sights on Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. WPTO is ready and excited to contribute to realizing the Biden Administration’s ambitious climate targets, including decarbonizing our economy by 2050, through large-scale investments and innovations in hydropower and marine energy technologies. With a 31% increase in water power funding included in President Biden’s FY2022 budget request, WPTO has the potential to accelerate and deepen investments in our current portfolio and activities, as well as seek out opportunities for groundbreaking new research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities. Find out more by keeping up with the Water Wire, and sign up for our hydropower and marine energy newsletters to dive deeper into our technology areas, opportunities, and results.

- WPTO Acting Director Jennifer Garson

Headshot of a woman smiling.

Expert Spotlight: Meet Rukmani Vijayaraghavan

Rukmani Vijayaraghavan serves in WPTO as the Innovation and Market Transformation Advisor. In her role, she enables sustainable and equitable innovation and commercialization activities in marine energy and hydropower. She has helped run several prize competitions to accelerate water power technologies and helmed the marine energy Seedlings program to fund new research and development (R&D) pathways, and she works on developing and implementing innovative financing mechanisms to advance clean energy solutions.

Keep reading to learn about some of the recent water power prizes Rukmani is spearheading.

Image of the Month

Verdant launch on the NYC East River.

Verdant Power’s WPTO-funded Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project, located in the East Channel of the East River. Photo courtesy of Paul Komosinski.

Want to see your hydropower or marine energy photo featured in our bi-monthly Water Wire newsletter?

It's easy! Just email your photo to WaterPowerTechnologiesOffice@ee.doe.gov to enter our Water Wire Image of the Month contest. At the beginning of each edition, we’ll feature our favorite water power photo. Submissions are currently open for November’s edition—send your photos now!

Announcements, Opportunities, & Upcoming Deadlines

EERE Announces Intent To Launch New Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize

EERE and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity announced the upcoming Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize. Scheduled to open for submissions later this month, Phase One of the new prize will provide cash incentives of up to $200,000 each to up to 10 winning organizations to support entrepreneurship and innovation in disadvantaged communities historically underrepresented in the energy sector.

DOE Announces Finalists Advancing to Final Stage of Waves to Water Desalination Prize

Last week, EERE announced five winners in the CREATE Stage of the Waves to Water Prize, a competition focused on using the power of waves to develop clean-energy-powered desalination technologies that can provide potable water to communities in need. Winners will advance to the final stage of the prize, DRINK. In the DRINK Stage, competitors will have up to 180 days to build and ship their wave-powered desalination prototypes to Jennette’s Pier in North Carolina, where the devices will undergo up to five days of testing in the open ocean to compete for $1 million in prizes.

UMERC Call for Board of Directors Nominations

The Pacific Ocean Energy Trust (POET) is now accepting nominations for the first Board of Directors for the University Marine Energy Research Community (UMERC), a WPTO initiative that strives to increase collaboration among U.S. marine energy researchers. The nomination portal is open through Sept. 30, 2021, and you can nominate yourself or a colleague for one of the seats on the board.

Last Chance To Apply for TEAMER RFTS4

Tomorrow, Sept. 16, 2021, is the final day to apply for the Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research (TEAMER) Program’s fourth Request for Technical Support (RFTS4). Applications to future RFTS rounds may be submitted at any time and will be reviewed on a quarterly basis, following the schedule on the TEAMER website.

Featured Product

Database Provides RAPID Access to Hydropower Regulations

Check out the latest updates to the Hydropower Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit. Learn more about this interactive online database of federal, state, tribal, and local hydropower regulations funded by WPTO and created by experts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Keep up with the latest policies with this frequently updated database.

Upcoming Webinars & Events

WPTO R&D Deep Dive Webinar: WPTO in Alaska


Sept. 15, 2021, 5–6 p.m. ET

Alaska is a living laboratory, one that DOE knows well. Join representatives from WPTO as they share the work that they are doing along the state’s coasts and waterways and give some insights into what could be next for water power in Alaska.

HydroVision International 2021

Sept. 21–23, 2021

Join hydropower professionals from across the world at this year’s HydroVision International. WPTO and the national labs will not be able to attend the in-person event due to departmental travel restrictions, but we are looking forward to DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for EERE Kelly Speakes-Backman participating virtually in the opening plenary session.

Registration Now Open for Long-Duration Storage Shot Summit

Sept. 22–23, 2021

Join DOE for the Long-Duration Storage Shot Summit on World Storage Day, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, to learn about how we can work together to reduce the cost of grid-scale energy storage by 90% within the decade and create affordable grid storage for clean power—anytime and anywhere.

POET’s Ocean Renewable Energy Conference

Sept. 22–23, 2021

POET will be celebrating its 15th year hosting the Ocean Renewable Energy Conference. The conference will focus on a range of subjects pertinent to the marine renewable energy landscape. Staff from WPTO and U.S. national labs will participate virtually.

WPTO Workshop: Materials and Manufacturing Strategy for Marine Energy Technologies

Oct. 5, 2021, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. ET

Join WPTO and partners for a virtual workshop focused on strategic initiatives for materials and manufacturing R&D to accelerate marine energy technology commercialization. The workshop will discuss marine energy technologies, present the current landscape of materials and manufacturing R&D, and talk through the WPTO Marine Energy Materials and Manufacturing Strategy draft.

NHA Hosts Inaugural Clean Currents Event

Oct. 20–22, 2021

Join the National Hydropower Association (NHA) at the all-new, official water power tradeshow and conference, Clean Currents. The event will feature remarks from Acting Assistant Secretary for EERE Kelly Speakes-Backman and virtual participation from WPTO and U.S. national laboratory staff. 

In Case You Missed It

Hydropower dam with greenery surrounding it and mountains in the background.

Recapping National Hydropower Day 2021

We invite you to explore the many ways WPTO and the U.S. national labs celebrated our first source of renewable energy during this year’s National Hydropower Day (Aug. 24):

  • WPTO Released RFI on Hydropower Test Facility Capabilities: To better understand of the industry’s current testing needs and the capabilities of existing hydropower test facilities, WPTO released a public Request for Information (RFI) to the hydropower community. Responses to the RFI are due by 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 1, 2021.
  • NREL Seeks Input on Hydropower Prize Strategy: NREL is seeking feedback from members of the hydropower industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on the R&D areas that future hydropower prizes should focus on. Responses are due by 5 p.m. MT on Oct. 31, 2021.
  • National Hydropower Day Interview With NHA and DOE: DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk sat down with NHA CEO Malcolm Woolf to discuss how hydropower fits into our clean energy future.
  • The Heat Is on—Is the Grid Ready?: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) researchers are working to predict droughts, enhance grid resilience, manage forests to reduce wildfire, and create hydropower and grid contingency plans. Read the full article to learn more about how PNNL is working to ensure a safer, more reliable energy grid.

Sandia and NREL Project Announced as R&D 100 Awards Finalist

Finalists for the 2021 R&D 100 Awards have been announced by R&D World magazine, including Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) and NREL’s wave energy converter simulator, which uses an open-source code and is funded by WPTO.

FlexPower Project Promises To Advance a Clean Energy Grid

The FlexPower project, which was funded in part by WPTO, brings together researchers from NREL, Idaho National Laboratory, and Sandia to develop a collocated, variable, hybrid generation power plant enhanced with energy storage. This research will demonstrate how hybrid power plants can smooth the transition to an electric grid primarily powered by renewable energy.

WPTO on VICE News: "Wave Energy Could Slash Our Use of Fossil Fuels"

WPTO’s Tim Ramsey, the program manager for marine energy, recently sat down with VICE News to discuss the importance of funding and conducting marine energy R&D—most notably at the PacWave South facility off the Oregon coast, the nation’s first accredited, grid-connected, pre-permitted, open-water wave energy testing facility. Watch the full clip to learn more.

Congress’s Bipartisan Effort To Invest in America’s Infrastructure: What It Means for Waterpower, Dams, and Rivers

Check out a recent article from NHA summarizing the record-setting research funding, financial assistance, and incentives for conventional hydropower, pumped storage hydropower, and marine energy included in the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act.

WPTO-NOAA Ocean Observing Prize Competitors to Make a SPLASH in the Olympic Peninsula

WPTO and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have officially announced that the 2022 Powering the Blue Economy™: Ocean Observing Prize competitors will test their marine-energy-powered ocean-observing prototypes on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, in the fall of 2022. PNNL will host this final stage of the SPLASH Contest.

WPTO Semiannual Stakeholder Webinar Recording

Take a look at our Semiannual Stakeholder Webinar, in which Acting Director of WPTO Jenn Garson shared water power highlights from the president’s FY 2022 budget request. Program representatives also provided high-level updates on ongoing programs and open opportunities.

Moving Hydrokinetic Research Forward by Understanding the Interactions With Alaska’s Fish

PNNL’s Triton Initiative is featured in a video highlighting fish collision research to better understand fish behavior around operating turbines in the Tanana River. This work was done in collaboration with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power.

EDA American Rescue Plan Programs

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, designed to enable all Americans to respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Under the American Rescue Plan, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to accelerate economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and build local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. Visit the EDA website to learn more about the funding made available through six innovative challenges

Social Spotlight

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@SecGranholm • Aug. 24, 2021

On #HydroDay and every day, @ENERGY’s committed to hydropower, marine, and hydrokinetic research to expand developments and build more energy-independent, resilient communities. We’re all about reliable, affordable electricity.

Follow @SecGranholm for daily DOE news, announcements, and general clean energy content.

WPTO in the News