November Water Wire: New Announcements and Publications

DOE announces funding for innovation in underserved communities

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Water Power Technologies Office


November 17, 2021

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Welcome to the Water Wire, a bimonthly update of all things water power. This month’s newsletter takes approximately 10 minutes to read.

Reach out to us at with any inquiries or suggestions.

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Did You Know?

In Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) funded 66 marine energy seedling projects, totaling $4.25 million and spanning six national labs.

Follow along on the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook channels for more #WaterWednesday content each week.

Elaine Buck.

Expert Spotlight: Elaine Buck, WPTO’s New Marine Energy Technology Manager

The latest addition to WPTO’s marine energy team, technical manager Elaine Buck brings an international perspective to the team. Elaine spent the last 10 years working at the European Marine Energy Centre, focusing her portfolio on testing methodologies for wave and tidal energy devices, as well as standardizing project process development. Read the full interview with Elaine to learn more about her unique background in marine energy and the skill sets she brings to the WPTO team.

Image of the Month

Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory perform biosonics testing using advanced underwater technology.

As part of the Triton Initiative, researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory performed biosonics testing using advanced underwater technology. Credit: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Want to see your hydropower or marine energy photo featured in our bimonthly Water Wire newsletter? It’s easy! Just email your photo to with the subject line “Water Wire Image of the Month Contest.” In each edition of the Water Wire, we’ll feature our favorite water power photo at the beginning of the newsletter. Submissions are currently open for January’s edition—send your photos in now!

Upcoming Deadlines

Announcements & Opportunities

DOE Hosts Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize Participant Webinar: Last week the prize administration team kicked off Phase One of the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize by inviting the public to participate in an informational webinar. The event highlighted how the prize fits into President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, with its goal to create an inclusive, accessible innovation ecosystem to progress towards a clean energy future. Watch the webinar recording to learn about the prize background, submission requirements, and answers to competitors’ questions. The deadline to apply for Phase One of this prize is Feb. 25, 2022.

Infrastructure Bill Catalyzes Department’s Clean Energy Advancement: On Nov. 15, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, providing a vital investment into our nation’s infrastructure and clean energy landscape. The bill outlines $62 billion in funding for the DOE, including nearly $1 billion for hydropower and marine energy programs under WPTO. Read the fact sheet to unpack the key implications for the DOE, and learn how the bill will help the U.S. continue to efficiently provide clean, reliable energy to the grid.

Start Today: Interested Applicants Prepare for Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership ProjectWPTO and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced intent to launch the second application program for the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP). Remote, island, and islanded communities interested in applying to ETIPP can take preliminary steps now to prepare for the January 2022 application release. Prospective applicants who experience challenges related to frequent energy disruptions, threats to energy infrastructure from natural hazards, and high energy costs are encouraged to review eligibility criteria on the ETIPP application webpage and contact an ETIPP regional partner with questions on eligibility and the application process

PNNL Issues RFP for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vessel: DOE and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) issued a new request for proposals (RFP) to design, fabricate, and deliver a new, plug-in, hybrid-electric research vessel. Proposals are due Nov. 17, 2021, at 4 p.m. PT. For any questions, please reach out to Beverly Jennings at

DOE Announces Topics for SBIR/STTR Fiscal Year 2022 Phase I Release 2: On Nov. 8, 2021, DOE announced its topics for Phase I Release 2 of Fiscal Year 2022’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Of those topics, there are four water power-focused topics and three joint topics that fall under the purview of WPTO. For more information, visit the SBIR website and register for the upcoming WPTO Topics Webinar on Dec. 7, 2021.

TEAMER Network Director Announces RFTS 4 Technical Support Recipients: The TEAMER program selected nine projects through its fourth RFTS for testing expertise and access to numerical modeling, and lab testing, as well as tank/flume testing and expertise within the growing facility network. Chosen applicants, along with the supporting facility, will now submit their completed test plans, a requirement before assistance activities can commence. Visit the TEAMER website for more information. As a reminder, applications for RFTS 5 are due by Dec. 16, 2021.

Apply Now: Marine Energy Graduate Student Research Program: Applications are open for the Marine and Hydrokinetic Graduate Student Research Program. Administered by WPTO and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, the program is designed to advance the graduate student’s overall doctoral thesis while providing access to expertise, resources, and capabilities available at DOE offices, national laboratories, industry organizations, and other approved facilities where the participant will conduct part of their research. The deadline to apply to this program is Dec. 10, 2021.

NREL Extends Deadline for Input on Hydropower Prize Strategy: NREL would like to hear from members of the hydropower community, including those from industry organizations, academia, research laboratories, and government agencies, as well as other stakeholders, about the R&D areas that future hydropower prizes should focus on. Responses are due by 5 p.m. MT on Dec. 17, 2021.

Technical Assistance Available for Clean Energy Transition Plans: DOE announced up to $16 million for LEAP, which will provide technical assistance services to support 24–36 communities as they develop community-driven clean energy transition plans. This pilot program supports communities currently experiencing direct environmental justice impacts or direct economic impacts from a shift away from historical reliance on fossil fuels. Join the informational webinar on Dec. 7, 2021, and be sure to register for LEAP by 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 15, 2021, to apply by 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 17, 2021.

Featured Publications

North to the Future: WPTO Helps Alaskan Partners Pursue a Renewable Future With Water Power: WPTO is helping Alaskans tap a massive renewable energy source rushing through their state: water. Throughout 2021, WPTO and partners invested in several marine energy and hydropower projects in Alaska, working closely with community members to learn how to best serve their energy needs while respecting their culture.

New Hydropower Report Identifies Factors That Affect Cost, Length, and Risks Associated With Licensing Process: A newly published NREL and Oak Ridge National Laboratory report has identified which factors have the greatest impact on the hydropower licensing process. The findings in the report hope to guide decision makers towards easy solutions to decrease regulatory holdups while maintaining important protections. Read how regulators and developers are trying to balance innovation with proper protection.

National STEM Day—WPTO Style: For this year’s National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Day on Nov. 8, 2021, WPTO celebrated by releasing an article calling on today’s youth to consider a career in STEM. Read the article now to learn about the many exciting opportunities that WPTO is providing to incentivize more people to dive into STEM-related careers.

Upcoming Webinars & Events

R&D Deep Dive Webinar: Hydropower Relicensing Report

Nov. 18, 2021, 1–2 p.m. ET
Register today

Join the team behind the Examination of the Hydropower Licensing and Federal Authorization Process report to hear analyses of licensing and approval timelines, project attributes that may influence those timelines, and their combined effect on costs and risks to developers. Learn how this study will support policymakers, federal and state regulators, and industry stakeholders, informing discussions helpful to individual license proceedings and to policies affecting efficiencies within the larger process.

WPTO SBIR/STTR Topics Webinar–FY22 Phase I Release 2

Dec. 7, 2021, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. ET
Register today

Join WPTO to learn more about the water power-focused topics/subtopics in the Nov. 8, 2021, SBIR/STTR release. Questions may be submitted prior to the webinar at

In Case You Missed It

DOE Awards $16 Million To Support Increasing Hydropower’s Role in Clean Energy: WPTO announced funding to bolster its Water Innovation for a Resilient Electricity System (HydroWIRES) Initiative. Funding will apply to nine national lab-directed projects aimed at expanding hydropower’s impact in the clean energy landscape.

National Labs Win R&D 100 Awards: Congratulations are in order for PNNL, NREL, and Sandia National Laboratories for their winning projects at this year’s R&D 100 Awards. PNNL received an award for their Lab-On-A-Fish technology, which records fish health and behavioral data to evaluate what fish experience as they pass through hydropower vessels. NREL and Sandia National Laboratories received an award for their wave energy converter simulator, which uses an open-source code.

PNNL Launches Two New Webpages Focused on Clean Energy: PNNL published two new webpages regarding energy equity and grid integration of renewable energy:

NREL researcher Levi Kilcher led his multilab team.

Turning the Tide for Renewables in Alaska: NREL researcher Levi Kilcher led a multilab team to deploy three moorings in the Cook Inlet, a highly energetic corner of the Pacific Ocean that is estimated to hold as much as 18 gigawatts of tidal energy potential. The data captured here will identify important details of the opportunities and challenges that come with turning these surging waters into a reliable and renewable power source for Alaskans.

WPTO Interview on Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize: WPTO’s innovation and market transformation advisor, Rukmani Vijayaraghavan, sat down with the Federal Drive to discuss details of the newly launched Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize. Listen to the conversation or read the transcript now.

Successful Demonstration of PSH Valuation Tool: Launched at Clean Currents 2021, the Pumped Storage Hydropower (PSH) Valuation Tool, developed to accompany the PSH Valuation Guidebook released earlier this year, helps users determine and optimize the value of an existing or proposed PSH plant. The tool will help stakeholders, such as developers, system operators, regulators, financial lending organizations, policymakers, and consultants, decide whether to invest, approve, or finance a project.

PNNL Cold Spray Technology Optimizing Hydropower Turbines: The newest feature of PNNL’s Solid Phase Processing tools, Cold Spray, is helping maximize the life span of hydropower turbines. Read more about this technology and its multitude of applications in this article by PNNL.

WPTO Awards Nearly $10 Million To Build Atlantic Marine Energy Center: WPTO recently announced it would provide $9.7 million to establish the new Atlantic Marine Energy Center, led by the University of New Hampshire in partnership with several East Coast universities. After concluding project scope negotiations, the University of New Hampshire announced the new center, which will focus on research and development to address ongoing needs for sustainable, renewable ocean energy. It will be one of only four National Marine Renewable Energy Centers in the country.

CalWave in the water.

CalWave Successfully Commissions Open-Water Wave Energy Pilot: CalWave Power Technologies Inc. successfully commissioned its WPTO-funded CalWave x1 off the coast of San Diego, California. This milestone event marks the beginning of California’s first at-sea, long-duration wave energy pilot project, which is operating fully submerged.

WPTO in Hydro Leader Magazine: WPTO’s hydropower program manager, Timothy Welch, was featured in last month’s edition of Hydro Leader Magazine. His interview focuses on WPTO’s research, projects, the importance of hydropower technologies, such as PSH, and more.

New Animated Videos Show Marine Energy’s Potential for Remote Communities: A new series of animated videos is available that describes different types of ocean and hydrokinetic technologies and how they can benefit remote and coastal communities. Designed to educate the future clean energy workforce, the series was created by NREL, Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, and industry partners, with support from WPTO. Visit the marine energy STEM portal for more educational resources specific to marine energy and check out these fun videos:

  1. The Wonder of Wave Gliders
  2. Clean Water From Ocean Waves
  3. The Power of a River
  4. The Promise of Offshore Wind.

Social Spotlight

Hydropower Dam.

@eeregov ⬩ Oct. 29, 2021

Trust the process! (But continually evaluate it). By exploring the licensing process for new hydropower projects we can gauge what is working (and what isn’t) to ensure the projects work for people and the planet. #CleanEnergyFuture

Follow @eeregov for daily EERE news, announcements, and general clean energy content.

WPTO in the News

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