DOE still accepting solicitations for hydroelectric power, MHK notices of intent

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy & Renewable Energy is still accepting solicitations for three notices of intent designed to fund research in both the marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) and conventional hydroelectric power fields.

Announced in March, the programs include:

  • Marine and Hydrokinetic Research and Development University Consortium: This funding opportunity is intended to support a university consortium "to leverage existing in-situ Research and Development (R&D) to advance U.S. Marine and Hydrokinetic (MHK) technology, while developing intellectual capital for a globally-competitive workforce." DOE said the project will address strategic opportunities in its MHK development portfolio.
  • Water Power Manufacturing: Issued by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) on behalf of the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office (WWPTO), this funding opportunity will support the "application of advanced materials and advanced manufacturing techniques to the development of new hydropower technologies." DOE notes that there is a significant opportunity to increase hydroelectric power generation at low-head sites, and that new technologies will help tap that potential.
  • Competitive Marine and Hydrokinetic Demonstrations at the Navy's Wave Energy Test Site: The WWPTO will issue a funding opportunity to test, evaluate and compare multiple close-to-full-scale wave energy conversion systems at the Navy's Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) and will help identify and focus on "the most promising device archetypes."
    The solicitations are part of a greater DOE plan to cultivate America's hydropower sector as part of the ongoing effort to diversify the nation's power producing fleet while decreasing its reliance on fossil fuels.

The department is also supporting the effort with its Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee that was announced in April.

Speaking at the recent National Hydropower Association Annual Conference, Peter Davidson, DOE Executive Director of the Loan Programs Office, "the significant resources [DOE] has are to provide debt capital loans to projects" that might not otherwise be able to find conventional funding.

The program could see DOE could provide as much as US$4 billion loan guarantees to "support technologies that are catalytic, replicable and market ready" at a commercial scale.

With regard to MHK depvelopment, HydroVision International 2014 will feature a conference track dedicated solely to this technology. 

Titled, "Wave, Tidal and In-Stream Power", the track includes six sessions covering development challenges, environmental issues, the importance of collaborating with conventional hydro, research and development, and more. The track also includes a meet-and-greet session that will allow suppliers of products and services needed to further the development of this sector to interact with the developers of MHK technology, who need their products and/or services. This session is a "can't-miss" opportunity for the members of the MHK and conventional hydro industries to connect and work together toward the goal of commercial deployment.

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