WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced nearly $600 million to modernize hydroelectric power and advance marine energy throughout America. DOE is now accepting applications for the Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives, which will provide up to $554 million in incentive payments, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to maintain and enhance hydroelectric facilities. This funding will help ensure generators continue to provide clean, affordable electricity, while integrating additional renewable energy resources and reduce environmental impacts. DOE also announced an additional $45 million funding opportunity, also funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to support a pilot demonstration site and community-led tidal and/or current energy project in the United States. Collectively, these announcements represent DOE’s largest-ever investments in both hydropower and marine energy and will play a key role in achieving President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050.
“Water power, the nation’s oldest source of renewable energy, is an integral tool to fight against climate change,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “President Biden’s Investing in America agenda provides historic funding that will expand and modernize water power technologies, ensuring a steady flow of reliable power to more Americans.”
Hydropower currently provides 6% of all electricity in the United States and accounts for 32% of renewable-electricity generation, as well as 93% of all utility-scale energy storage. However, the fleet is aging with many facilities in need of repair and upgrades and less than 3% of the nation’s more than 90,000 dams currently produce power. Adding generation equipment to these sites could add up to 12 gigawatts of new hydropower capacity to the U.S. electric system—enough to power 4.8 million homes.
Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives Program
The application period is now open for existing eligible hydroelectric facilities to apply for up to $553.6 million through the Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives. Administered by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, the program is designed to enhance existing hydropower and pumped storage facilities for capital improvements directly related to grid resilience, dam safety, and environmental improvements. Potential eligible capital improvements include improvements that enable the integration of variable resources, such as wind and solar; improvements for dam safety, such as spillway upgrades and erosion repair; and improvements in environmental conditions, such as fish passage, water quality and recreation.
Letters of Intent to submit full applications under the Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives are due June 22, 2023, 5:00 p.m.ET. Full applications will be due October 6, 2023. To be eligible to file a full application, prospective applicants must first file a Letter of Intent through the Clean Energy Infrastructure Funding Opportunity eXCHANGE. A public webinar will be held on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at 1:00 pm ET, to provide the public an opportunity to ask clarifying questions on the application guidance. Registration is required.
Advancing Tidal Energy
Marine energy technologies, including tidal and current technologies, transform the energy in the natural flow of oceans and rivers into clean electricity. Tides and currents are incredibly predictable, meaning these resources could help balance other sources of renewable energy and play an important role on the 100% clean energy grid.
DOE’s new $45 million funding opportunity will make the first large-scale investment in a tidal and/or current energy research, development, and demonstration site in the United States. It will also support a community-led tidal and/or current energy planning and development project. This investment will encourage U.S. leadership in tidal and current energy development, while also meeting community energy priorities and developing the sector’s supply chain and workforce.
This opportunity includes two topic areas. One will provide up to $35 million to support the development of a pilot tidal and/or current energy technology demonstration site in state waters. Concept papers for this topic area are due 5 p.m. ET on June 5, 2023. DOE will also provide up to $10 million to support a community-led tidal and/or current energy planning and development project. Concept papers for this topic area are due 5 p.m. ET on July 13, 2023.
This announcement is part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which is growing the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $435 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good paying jobs and building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.