But if it happens, as seems likely, it could help invigorate and focus a nascent energy sector that has plenty of small players with interesting ideas, but all of whom have struggled to move beyond the prototype or even idea stage.
The DOE introduced the National Wave Energy Converter Prize idea last July, and has been receiving input on how to shape the competition. That stated broad goal “is to spur innovations for new and next generation WEC technologies at a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of 15 cents per kilowatt hour compared to the current range of 61-77 ¢/kWh.”
Now the DOE is exploring a cooperative agreement to administer the prize. The department’s recent request for information lays out more information about the intent and possible design of the challenge. From the RFI:
The wave energy industry is young and experiencing many new innovations as evidenced by a sustained growth in patent activity, with the numbers of patent application files doubling each year since 2008. While the private industry can develop these early conception wave energy converter (WEC) devices through design and benchtop prototype testing, funding is hard to secure for performance testing and evaluation of WEC devices in wave tanks at a meaningful scale. This is a problem for the industry since scaled WEC prototype tank testing, validation, and evaluation is a key step in the advancement of WEC technologies through higher technical readiness levels to reach commercialization.