Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (the "DOE") released the long-awaited Financial Assistance Funding Opportunity Announcement ("FOA") titled "Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology Readiness Advancement Initiative."  Federal funding for this initiative for fiscal year 2010 is expected to be up to $15.36 million, with the possibility of continued funding at, or near, that level for up to an additional two years.  (Because all federal funding is subject to annual appropriations, these figures should be treated as estimates.)

The DOE has recognized that marine hydrokinetic ("MHK") technologies can provide renewable, environmentally responsible, and predictable baseload electricity to load centers along the nation’s coastlines.  And to help accelerate the development and deployment of these technologies, the DOE intends to advance the technological and operational readiness of MHK systems and components across a range of technology readiness levels ("TRLs") through this Funding Opportunity Announcement.

Although TRLs have been used for years by both NASA and the Department of Defense to develop advanced, mission-critical systems, this is the first time TRLs have been used by the DOE to assess the technological readiness of new renewable energy technologies.  Recognizing that MHK devices and components are still largely in the early stages of research and development, the DOE has adopted a simplified TRL structure for purposes of this Funding Opportunity Announcement.  The DOE is seeking applications in two topic areas: (1) MHK Technologies Concept Development (TRLs 1-3) and (2) MHK Technology Readiness Level Advancement (TRLs 4-9). 

Funding will be made available in each topic area for both "systems" and "components."  The DOE organized and grouped the TRLs into four discrete funding categories:

  1. Discovery / Concept Definition / Early Stage Development, Design and Engineering (TRL 1-3);
  2. Proof of Concept (TRL 4);
  3. System Integration and Technology Laboratory Demonstration (TRL 5/6); and
  4. Open Water System Testing, Demonstration, and Operation (TRL 7/8).

Each category has prescribed funding levels and project performance periods.  A brief summary of the expected number of awards in each topic area and the associated expected federal funding is included below.  For a complete funding breakdown for systems and components, see the Funding Opportunity Announcement.

Topic Area Summary

Topic Area Period of Performance Expected Number of Awards Total  Estimated Federal Funding Estimated FY 2010 Federal Funding

MHK Technologies Concept Development

(TRLs 1-3)

    12 months


  (4 systems, 4 components)

       $1.6M          $1.6M

MHK Technology Readiness Level Advancement

(TRLs 4-9)

  18-36 months

    (see FOA)


  (11 systems, 7 components)

      $36.72M        $13.76M


Applications are due to DOE by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on June 7, 2010.