U.S. Department of Energy launches hydro power prize, names Fish Protection Prize stage I winners

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons has announced the launch of the Innovations in Advanced Manufacturing for Hydropower (I AM Hydro) Prize, a competition designed to lower costs and improve the performance of hydropower components and facilities by using advanced manufacturing. Additionally, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, he announced the winners of the first, or CONCEPT, stage of the Fish Protection Prize.

Funded by DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), the I AM Hydro Prize challenges competitors to leverage advancements in manufacturing and materials to dramatically reduce capital costs and increase performance of hydropower components and systems. Integrating advanced manufacturing methods with hydropower can improve conventional manufacturing – enhancing design flexibility, decreasing energy consumption, lowering costs and reducing time to market.

The competition is open to all innovators with ideas to transform hydropower technology using advanced manufacturing. Participants compete for up to $250,000, which will be split among as many as 18 winners. Eligible participants will have 90 days to submit their concepts. WPTO is partnering with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to administer this prize. Part of the American-Made Challenges series, the I AM Hydro Prize will generate ideas in the following categories: joining, coating and repair; additive and composite manufacturing; casting, forming and machining; and advanced materials.

The Fish Protection Prize is a competition designed to solicit creative methods to increase the energy efficiency of dams by keeping fish out of water diversions and dam intakes Simmons announced the nine winners of the first, or CONCEPT, stage of the three-stage prize. CONCEPT competitors submitted their approaches for developing new, cost-effective fish exclusion methods at water diversions and intakes or for making improvements to existing technologies. These winners will each receive 50 hours of voucher support from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to help them improve their concepts during the upcoming INCUBATION stage of the prize. The Fish Protection Prize builds on many years of collaboration with Reclamation and Interior.

The prize will continue to invite innovators to submit concepts that increase energy efficiency by keeping fish safe from water infrastructure such as pipes and dam intakes. The Fish Protection Prize is administered by NREL and PNNL.

“EERE has a diverse water power research portfolio aimed at improving our Nation’s access to affordable, reliable, and clean electricity,” Simmons said. “Today’s announcements will leverage the power of advanced manufacturing to develop the next-generation water-power technologies and advance hydropower innovations that will help us meet the dual imperative of energy generation and environmental stewardship.”


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