Powering the Blue Economy
The U.S. Department of Energy continues to promote a series of competitions focused on Powering the Blue Economy. As the name implies these competitions tackle a range of ocean related business development opportunities. The competition “seeks innovators to integrate marine renewable energy with ocean observation platforms, ultimately revolutionizing our capability to collect the data needed to understand, map, and monitor the ocean.”
DOE and NOAA Supported
The competition is a multi-agency program with Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) under the umbrella of DOE and the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) managed by NOAA as primary promoters. With over 80% of our oceans unexplored these ongoing competitions offer a pathway to fill data gaps that support strategic decisions focused on understanding the full potential of the Blue Economy.
The multi-year competition encourages technology innovation in the fields of marine energy and ocean observations. Supporting organizations include Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Cash awards incentivize the three contest phases, which are Discover, Design and Build.
The winners of Discovery competition will be announced around March 26, 2020. Participants are tasked to develop concepts “that integrate ocean observing technologies with marine energy systems to address end-user needs across five broad themes: (1) Unmanned Vehicles; (2) Communications and Underwater Navigation; (3) Extreme Environments; (4) Buoys, Floats, and Tags; and (5) Blue Sea Ideas.”
Design and Build Competitions
The DISCOVERY Competition is followed by the DESIGN Competition, which focuses on a single theme, and challenges contestants to develop their ideas into a functioning prototype in the BUILD Competition. In combination, the DESIGN and BUILD Competitions offer awards up to $3 million in cash prizes as well as other in-kind awards.
Future Energy Competitions
The Ocean DISCOVERY Competition will periodically be repeated as will the DESIGN and DEVELOP Competitions, each with a view towards addressing other technological and discovery themes. The contest allows innovators to tap into DOE and NOAA’s network of National Laboratories, energy incubators, subject matter experts, and other resources across the nation, building strong partnerships between marine energy and ocean observation experts.