Greetings from Washington! We hope this note finds you well. Please find below an update on our work to increase support for water power as the Biden Administration and Congress deliberate on how best to decarbonize the U.S. economy.
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic disruption, we are seeing multiple positive events for water power and the marine energy sector here in the United States. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) is funded at $150 million for Fiscal Year 2021, a record level, with $109 million for marine energy.
C-Power and Oscilla Power will deploy devices later this year at the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Oregon State University and its partners recently broke ground for the PacWave project, a 20-Megawatt grid connected open water wave energy test facility near Newport, Oregon. Verdant Power has had a very successful demonstration of its Free Flow System on a TriFrame mount at the RITE site in New York City. ORPC is in the process of installing it’s second RivGen turbine at Igiugig, Alaska. And other projects are on the way.
In addition, there are multiple wave and tidal energy device deployments at the European Marine Energy Centre and other locations around the world. These deployments represent exciting developments for those of us who have been working for years to increase governmental support for getting “steel in the water” at various global testing facilities.
Our team at SMI has a proven and successful track record in supporting our clients as they navigate the processes and challenges in partnering with the U.S. Federal Government to develop and deploy new water power technologies. Please contact us if your company or organization could benefit from SMI’s federal marketing and lobbying services. We also encourage our readers to join the National Hydropower Association and the Marine Energy Council which play important roles supporting critical industry advocacy efforts here in Washington. If you are not yet a member of the NHA Marine Energy Council, please join! Every member should be reaching out to their elected officials to communicate the importance of water power and how federal investments can support carbon reduction goals, new job growth and clean, affordable electricity.
The SMI Water Power Team
MEC Marine Energy Commercialization Strategy
Since our last update, we have been working here in Washington to increase the level of federal support for the deployment of advanced water power technologies. Part of that marketing effort included the release earlier this year of NHA’s "Commercialization Strategy for Marine Energy". SMI's Paul Gay led the effort to create the strategy which is a call to action for industry and government to take immediate and targeted steps to support commercialization of marine energy technologies. Our hope is that policy makers, funders, and influencers will use the strategy as a tool to help communicate this exciting opportunity to support a just clean energy transition by 2035.
The strategy lays out two key messages:
The call by NHA’s Marine Energy Council to meet deployment targets of: 50 MW by 2025, 500 MW by 2030, and at least 1 GW by 2035. While these targets are relatively modest, meeting them would spark liftoff for the domestic marine energy sector.
- Outlines 10 specific actions for federal policymakers to help meet the deployment targets. These actions include, for example, significant new funding for infrastructure related distributed generation opportunities for marine energy or new resources for DOE’s “Powering the Blue Economy” initiative.
The Marine Energy Council will hold a strategy session the Tuesday afternoon at Clean Currents in October on building a roadmap for the “50 by 25” goal. We encourage you to participate in that event and help us heighten awareness of the commercialization strategy and the need for these recommended actions. Share the link to the strategy far and wide – not only within your organization and industry colleagues, but more importantly, with your Members of Congress, policy makers, and those you influence.
NHA and MEC Hosts Successful ICOE
After years of planning, and with support from DOE’s WPTO, the Marine Energy Council, SMI, and other industry members, the 2021 International Conference on Ocean Energy was held virtually as part of NHA’s Water Power Week events in late April. Despite being delayed a year and facing COVID headwinds, the conference attracted over 450 registrants for a program that included plenary sessions with high-level government speakers, technical sessions, poster presentations, an online exhibition hall, and virtual networking opportunities.
U.S. government speakers included Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk, and DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman, among many others. Senator Murkowski and Congresswoman Bonamici were recognized with awards by NHA for their work in Congress in support of water power technologies.
Content from the conference is still available for viewing online here, with a registration fee.
DOE FY22 WPTO Funding – Biden Budget Request
Since the beginning of the year, we have been working with NHA and others to support water power funding levels for FY22 that are at least equal to the authorized levels approved by Congress and signed into law last December in the Water Power R&D legislation. We were pleased to see a significant increase for the DOE WPTO proposed by the new Biden Administration earlier this year for FY22. This is the first time since the water power program was reinitiated in FY08 that an administration has requested a year-on-year increase above what Congress had provided the prior fiscal year. This is an excellent result. However, we do note that most of the proposed increase over current year funding was for the hydropower subprogram. The President’s Budget Request to Congress includes a total of $196 million for water power, with $112 million for marine energy (pg.201) – a $3 million increase from FY21 enacted levels.
Other DOE programs in the budget request that could support future water power technology deployments include the new proposed Clean Energy Deployment Fund (initial startup funding of $400 million with a focus on Energy Storage solutions), the Indian Energy Program Office ($122 million to support clean energy projects on tribal lands) and the Loan Program Office. The LPO is experiencing transformational changes under the new leadership and we expect up to $24 billion to be available under the Title XVII Innovative Energy Loan Guarantee Program for commercial deployments. The LPO has updated guidance for new loan applicants and is now waiving certain application fees. See here for more details.
DOE WPTO FY22 Funding – Congressional Action
Despite the delayed start to the budget process this year, Congress has now made significant progress toward completing FY22 funding for the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved the FY22 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill which included funding levels and program direction for the DOE WPTO. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY22 energy and water bill on August 4.
In the House, our advocacy work and key support from our Congressional champions led to record funding levels for the WPTO at a total of $175 million along with critical program direction language. However, all of the increase above current year levels is targeted at hydropower investments for a total of $69 million. In the Senate, $196,500,000, or the full Biden budget request, is provided for water power, with $142 million earmarked for marine energy. We will now turn our attention to reconciling these two separate provisions into a final agreement for the conference report which will be approved by Congress sometime after Labor Day.
We have included the entire water power sections below from both the House and Senate energy and water reports for your information.
House FY22 Water Power Report Language
“The recommendation provides not less than $69,000,000 for Hydropower Technologies and up to $137,000,000 for Marine Energy. The Department is encouraged to consider the use of existing authorities to waive cost share for water power technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities as appropriate.
The recommendation provides $5,000,000 to continue industry led research, development, demonstration, and deployment efforts of innovative technologies for fish passage and invasive fish species removal at hydropower facilities, as well as analysis of hydrologic climate science and water basin data to understand the impact of climate change on hydropower.
The recommendation provides up to $10,000,000 for small hydropower innovation, testing, and initiatives, including industry-led competitive solicitations for advanced turbine demonstrations, improved environmental performance and sustainability, operational efficiency, and standardized or modular project deployment applications.
The Committee remains supportive of the Department’s ongoing scoping activities toward establishing a network of hydropower testing facilities. The recommendation provides up to $5,000,000 for design and engineering based on the outcome of the scoping analysis. Further, the Department is directed to provide to the Committee not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act a briefing on its strategy for establishing these facilities.
The recommendation provides $10,000,000 for the purposes of sections 242 and 243 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
The recommendation provides not less than $24,000,000 for the Powering the Blue Economy initiative. The Committee supports the Department’s growing investment and focus on its Powering the Blue Economy, including cross-cutting initiatives within the Department and with other federal partners that integrate marine energy harvesting, energy storage, and continuous, wide area environmental monitoring. The Department is directed to continue leveraging existing core capabilities within its national laboratories to execute this work, in partnership with universities and industry.
Within available funds, the recommendation provides up to $20,000,000 to address infrastructure needs at marine energy technology testing sites, including general plant projects, and support for planning activities for the staged development of an ocean current test facility. The Committee recognizes the challenges of decarbonizing remote communities and the maritime sector. The Department is encouraged to continue to focus on activities addressing the integration of clean energy systems for remote communities and port electrification, including the demonstration of marine, distributed wind, solar, energy storage, improved microgrids, and local production of zero-carbon fuels.
The recommendation provides not less than $60,000,000 for industry-led competitive solicitations to increase energy capture, improve reliability, and to assess and monitor environmental effects of marine energy systems and components at a variety of scales, including full scale prototypes. The recommendation provides up to $24,000,000 for foundational research activities led by universities and other research institutions affiliated with the National Marine Energy Centers.
The recommendation provides up to $10,000,000 to continue development and construction of an open water, fully energetic, grid connected wave energy test facility. The recommendation provides up to $5,000,000 for the Department to continue its support of operations at the Atlantic Marine Energy Center to accelerate the transition of wave and tidal energy technologies to market. The recommendation provides up to $8,000,000 for continuation of the Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research initiative.
The recommendation provides up to $35,000,000 to expand the HydroWIRES program to enhance the flexibility of America’s hydropower and pumped storage hydropower resources, including support for research, development, and demonstration to advance pumped storage hydro projects.
The Department is encouraged to continue efforts for increased grid reliability, integration of other energy resources, and energy water systems resilience, such as hybridized hydropower and battery storage applications, microgrids, and machine learning.
The Committee supports the efforts of the Department to promote irrigation modernization as an opportunity for promoting thriving agriculture, decarbonization, sustainable water management, and rural community wellbeing. The Department is directed to build on the pre-engineering design tool for irrigation modernization and conduct demonstration and deployment activities.
The Committee recommends the Department continue to coordinate with the U.S. Navy and other federal agencies on marine energy technology development for national security and other applications.
The Committee recognizes the emergence of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC) systems in the United States and the potential to produce sustainable electricity, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and diversify fuel options while creating job opportunities. The Committee also recognizes the Department of Defense’s investment in SWAC and OTEC technologies for Guam and other military bases in the Indo-Pacific region. The Department is directed to provide to the Committee not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act a report on the feasibility of incorporating engineering within SWAC and OTEC that would enhance open-ocean aquaculture and serve to stimulate biological productivity in nutrient-poor off-shore waters as a means of accelerating capture and sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide as well as stimulating offshore fisheries. This report shall include completed, ongoing, and planned OTEC and SWAC projects in non-contiguous states and U.S. territories. The report shall also include recommendations to address barriers to expanding OTEC and SWAC technologies.”
Senate FY22 Water Power Report Language
“The Committee recommends $196,560,000 for Water Power.
The Department is encouraged to consider the use of existing authorities to waive cost share for water power technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities as appropriate.
The Committee recommends $142,000,000 for marine energy. The Committee recommendation includes not less than $60,000,000 for industry-led competitive solicitations to increase energy capture, improve reliability, and to assess and monitor environmental effects of marine energy systems and components at a variety of scales, including full scale prototypes. The Committee recommends not less than $24,000,000 for the Powering the Blue Economy initiative.
Within available funds, the recommendation provides up to $20,000,000 to address infrastructure needs at marine energy technology testing sites.
The Committee is concerned that a lack of dedicated funding within existing resources and uncertainty in frequency has a unique impact on university capacity to support needed foundational research and develop the skilled workforce to accelerate development of the marine energy sector. The recommendation provides up to $24,000,000 for foundational research activities led by universities and other research institutions affiliated with the National Marine Energy Centers.
The Committee recommends up to $10,000,000 to address technology testing infrastructure needs, including planning activities for the staged development of an ocean current test facility and upgrades to facilities that provide cost effective open water access for prototype testing.
The Committee recommends up to $10,000,000 to continue development and construction of an open water, fully energetic, grid connected wave energy test facility, and up to $8,000,000 for continuation
of the Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research initiative. The Committee recommends the Department continue to coordinate with the U.S. Navy and other Federal agencies on marine energy technology development for national security and other applications. Within available funds, the Committee recommends not less than $5,000,000 to continue operations at the Atlantic Marine Energy Center to accelerate the transition of wave and tidal energy technologies to market.
The Committee is aware of a growing interest from the private sector in advancing collaborative projects between recreational marine manufacturers and national laboratories to support next generation marine propulsion research, and encourages the Department to work with industry stakeholders to address funding barriers to manufacturers who wish to engage with the Department to advance the testing of alternative fuels, including carbon neutral sustainable biofuels.
The Committee recognizes the challenges of decarbonizing remote communities and the maritime sector. The Department is encouraged to continue to focus on activities addressing the integration of clean energy systems for remote communities and port electrification, including the demonstration of marine, distributed wind, solar, energy storage, improved microgrids, and local production
of zero-carbon fuels.
Within available funds recommended, $5,000,000 shall be used for the environmental analyses and engineering of potential run-of-river hydrokinetic facilities at two sites with high electricity costs and diesel use, as determined by the Secretary. Funding may be used for such related field work, engineering, and analysis necessary for a future FERC license.
Of the funds available for conventional hydropower and pumped storage activities, the Committee recommends $10,000,000 for the purposes of section 242 and section 243 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.”
DOD Marine Energy Funding – Congressional Action
The House also released its spending measure for the Department of Defense and included $4.5 million in support of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command activities at the Wave Energy Test Site and select national marine energy centers. We are encouraged by the Pentagon’s recent hires who have a background in clean energy. We expect new announcements soon on decarbonizing the military footprint and new marine energy technology R&D supporting persistent, reliable solutions for a variety of forward deployed surveillance systems.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill – Congressional Action
The U.S. Senate is currently considering bipartisan infrastructure legislation. The bill has significant resources for both hydropower and marine energy. For example, the measure includes an additional $70.4 million for marine energy R&D and $40 million to support the national marine energy centers. If approved, this funding would need to be obligated over the next four fiscal years and is in addition to the annual appropriated funds discussed above. This measure may be approved in the Senate in the next several days. Its fate in the House is unclear at this point. Stay tuned.
New DOE FOA for Wave Energy Deployment at PacWave
A $27 million Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) was announced on July 7 for wave energy technology development and future deployment at PacWave. See the DOE WPTO FOA opportunity here.
About – SMI Value Proposition
SMI, Inc. is a full-service government relations firm that provides clients with consulting services focused on strategic marketing and capturing federal funding. SMI is dedicated to helping clients develop and demonstrate clean energy technologies through government program and industry marketing support. Our experienced team works with the Federal Government to secure funding and shape policy as well as promoting legislation that encourages clean energy development and deployment. SMI has secured approval of over $750 million to date in federal funding to support marine energy R&D and demonstration projects
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