“Powering the Blue Economy™: Ocean Observing Prize” Sign up to the American-Made Challenges: HeroX Challenge

Jim Cooper
February 4, 2021

ocean observing prize

The Powering the Blue Economy™: Ocean Observing Prize challenges innovators to integrate marine renewable energy with ocean observation platforms, ultimately revolutionizing our ability to collect the data needed to understand, map, and monitor the ocean.

DEVELOP Competition submissions deadline: Feb. 16, 2021, 2 p.m. PST

This prize, available on the HeroX: American Made Challenges platform, provides a challenge for teams interested in solving problems in the ‘Blue Economy’, to combine marine renewable energy technologies, with ocean observation platforms. Ultimately the hope is to create a way to monitor ocean phenomena that will transform how we utilize data. Solutions are required in areas as diverse as mapping, bathymetry, geological and seismic monitoring, tsunami warning systems, weather sensors, and the enabling devices and platforms, such as drones, gliders, buoys, and other equipment, related to marine energy.

The prize is a joint effort between the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) at the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The objective of the program is to seek the development of new technologies in an increasing technology gap and remove the barriers to growing a sustainable Blue Economy.

Millions of dollars will be awarded over a series of competitive and challenging projects, to come up with ways to solve some of the issues around ocean observing – hence the name of the prize – to speed the process of bringing to market key innovations, essential to the development of novel approaches to marine energy.

The first challenge was the DISCOVER Competition, that uncovered ways to collect data, over much of the world’s unexplored ocean area, in a cost-effective and easier method. The winners of that prize were announced in April of last year. Award recipients received $10,000, which included such solutions as:

• A self-charging light-weight power, data, and sensor node enabling buoy that can serve ocean observing and potentially aquaculture needs
• A mobile wave energy conversion platform that provides power for oceanographic sensors and autonomous underwater vehicles
• An underwater backscatter that reduces the power consumption of underwater communication by one million times using acoustics.

In the words of Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons, “The United States can harness science and technological advances to increase our understanding and effective management of the ocean environment at a level of detail and geographic scale never before possible. Through innovation, we can help unlock the potential of the ocean to provide both energy and water across the country.” The U.S. would like to stay at the forefront of these technologies and continue to grow towards energy independence, in a sustainable way.

The DEVELOP Competition stage will focus on a subset of these themes and offer up to $3 million in prizes for those who successfully design, build, and test their systems. Participation in the DEVELOP stage is not limited to those who participated or won prizes under the DISCOVER stage. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are supporting DOE and NOAA on the development and administration of the prize.

Please consider submitting a team, or perhaps you’d like to join a team yourself! There are teams looking for experts and this is a great way to improve your network in the area of marine energy, the blue economy, and ocean observation. A link to the prize, more information, and to sign up, is available, here: https://www.herox.com/oceanobserving

Submitted By:

Jim Cooper, Principal Advisor, Larta Institute and Co-Founder & Chief Science Officer, Braid Theory