DoE announces grants for marine energy projects

The U.S. Department of Energy announced on Sept. 18 its selection of projects for negotiation of awards of up to $7.3 million (USD) to 14 research teams, with a cost-shared value of over $18 million.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) announced on Sept. 18 its selection of projects for negotiation of awards of up to $7.3 million (USD) to 14 research teams, with a cost-shared value of over $18 million. The DoE’s competitive solicitation for Advanced Water Power Projects was authorized under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA, 2007), which established a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application to expand marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy production, something the DoE is aggressively pursuing. Awards were made in three topic areas: 1) industry-led partnerships that develop and/or field test advanced waterpower technologies; 2) facilitation of market penetration of advanced waterpower technologies; and 3) development of National Marine Renewable Energy Centers.

Grant winners in the first topic area, where composites are or could be incorporated, included Electric Power Research Institute Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.) for its “Fish-Friendly” hydropower turbine development and deployment. EPRI will address the additional developmental engineering required to prepare the Alden/Concepts NREC Turbine concept for the commercial market and enable it to compete with traditional designs. Verdant Power Inc. (New York, N.Y.) won a grant for its improved structure and fabrication of large, high-power kinetic hydropower system (KHPS) rotors (see image). Verdant will design, analyze, develop for manufacture, fabricate and thoroughly test an improved blade structure and concomitant blade design to allow for larger, higher-output and more cost-effective KHPS rotors. A company spokesman says that while composites have been used in the past and “will be in the future,” for the present it is using extruded aluminum for the rotors.

Other selectees included the Snohomish County, Wash., public utility district, for tidal flow technology; Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s WaveConnect Wave Energy In-Water Testing and Development Project; Concepts ETI Inc. (White River Junction, Vt.), which will design, manufacture and install a second-generation wave converter system for long-term operation in Maui, Hawaii; and Lockheed Martin Corp. (Bethesda, Md.), selected for its coldwater pipe (CWP) manufacturing techniques and technology performance for ocean thermal energy at the prototype and pilot plant scales.