U.S. Department of Energy announces funding for six marine energy projects

Department of Energy Seal

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a total of $6.7 million in funding to six recipients, with the goal of developing innovative marine energy technologies “capable of generating reliable and cost-effective electricity from U.S. water resources.”

The money comes from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy‘s Water Power Technologies Office, with a partnership between the Igiugig Village Council of Alaska and the Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) of Maine receiving the single largest share with $2.3 million.

The funding will be used to further design, construct and test ORPC’s “RivGen” turbine system, with the goal of improving installation, operation and maintenance strategies. The company previously demonstrated a RivGen device in Igiugig’s Kvichak River in 2015 — an effort that was recognized by the National Hydropower Association with an Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters award.

DOE said the funding continues work begun last year, which seeks to identify the “specific unique electrical generation requirements for systems that operate in remote off-grid communities.”

Splitting the remaining $4.4 million in DOE funding are five projects that include:

  • Seawater-compatible rotary pump for wave energy conversion. Resolute Marine Energy — in coordination with Ricardo, the University of Minnesota, Re Vision Consulting LLC, Austin Power Engineering and Charles River Hydraulics — will build and test a model-scale seawater-compatible pump to facilitate lab testing of a power take-off (PTO) system. This PTO system will implement real-time controls, and perform endurance tests of the pump seals.
  • Design of high-deflection turbine blades for marine energy applications. ORPC will partner with the University of New Hampshire, DoyleCFD, AeroCraft and Sandia National Laboratories to investigate low-stiffness cross-flow turbines to increase turbine efficiency by reducing internal supports and adjusting designs to reduce tip losses. The goals are 20% increases in efficiency and annual production.
  • Advanced linear hybrid power take-off for wave energy conversion. Oscilla Power Inc. will work to optimize its linear hybrid drivetrain technology to achieve a rated capacity of over 400 kW per drivetrain. The project includes 1/10th-scale testing at Sandia National Laboratories.
  • Novel wave energy converter concept. Enorasy, Raytheon, the University of Maine and Draper Labs will build a 1/10th-scale prototype of a wave energy converter described by DOE as “new and very efficient.” The unit will be evaluated using performance metrics developed under DOE’s recent Wave Energy Prize, focusing on numerical modeling, simulation, fabrication, assembly, testing and performance validation.
  • Water Horse hydroelectric harvester development. The Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP), Renerge and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks will incorporate design modifications to their oscillating hydrokinetic harvester, called the “Water Horse”. The technology could have promise for small, remote riverine applications.

“Marine energy technologies have the potential to provide millions of Americans with locally sourced, affordable, and reliable energy,” said Daniel Simmons, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for EERE. “This is why DOE’s research and development is critical to advancing American economic growth and energy security, especially for rural communities that have high energy costs but abundant marine energy resources.”

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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