This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 16, 2009

DOE Awards $14.6 Million to Develop Water Power Technologies

Photo of a buoy in the ocean labeled OPT.

Ocean Power Technologies was one of the companies awarded DOE funding. The company's PowerBuoy produces electricity from wave power.
Credit: Ocean Power Technologies

DOE awarded $14.6 million on September 15 for 22 advanced water power projects to advance the commercial viability and environmental performance for new marine and hydrokinetic technologies. Some funds will also go to conventional hydropower projects, including a project by the Electric Power Research Institute to quantify and maximize the benefits to transmission grids of hydropower and pumped storage hydropower projects. The selected projects will advance markets and research to maximize the use of the nation's largest renewable energy source. The funding went to 16 institutions in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C. Studies on specific sites will be carried out in Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington.

The 22 projects include studies of the cost, environmental impact, and performance of water power technologies, as well as the development of hydrokinetic devices to draw power from currents, tides, waves, and ocean temperature differences. A technology called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) produces power from ocean temperature differences, flashing warmer sea-surface water into steam under a vacuum, driving a turbine with the steam, and then condensing it with colder seawater from the ocean depths. Several of the projects involve resource assessments, including an assessment of in-stream hydrokinetic resources in the United States, as well as U.S. and global assessments of ocean currents and the ocean thermal resource. The funds will also support graduate- and doctorate-level students at Pennsylvania State University and through fellowships from the Hydro Research Foundation. In addition, Pacific Energy Ventures will test a limited-range acoustic deterrent system to keep migrating gray whales from entering wave energy parks. See the DOE press release.