The DOE and Bureau of Reclamation Announce the Fish Protection Prize

The DOE and Bureau of Reclamation Announce the Fish Protection Prize

The DOE and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the Fish Protection Prize to develop sustainable water structures and protect fish species.

For as long as hydro-energy and water structures (like damns) have been around, aquatic species have taken a toll. Species are often obstructed from reaching parts of their natural habitats or swept away into unknown and dangerous areas. This newly announced project aims to change that.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the Fish Protection Prize on Jan. 27, 2020.

The prize focuses on two key things: developing more reliable and sustainable water structures and simultaneously protecting fish from traveling into unknown, dangerous waters, diversions, and intakes. The goal of the Prize is the “improve fish protection, or exclusion, technologies to decrease the number of fish susceptible to river and canal diversions, unscreened diversion pipes, or intakes at hydropower plants,” said an EERE article.  

This is a necessary step given the number of fish that do get caught or trapped by water infrastructure. “Fish exclusions” is a way of preventing fish from going into water diversion or intake—without such, fish can be trapped or entrained and removed from their natural environment.

The result? Native fish can be lost, species are affected, populations impacted, and biodiversity threatened. It’s a recipe for threatened and endangered species.

The scoping prizes, administered by the Bureau of Reclamation in 2019, aims to tackle this issue head on. Its goal is to improve fish exclusion technology and decreasing the number of entrained fish from river and canal diversions, unscreened diversion pipes, or intakes and hydropower dams.

The competition is open to new and different ideas that need technical support to develop and improve existing technologies that would benefit from a testing campaign to validate their use.  It is based on the American-Made Challenges Prize Model and will have three competition stages. It will be jointly run by DOE and Reclamation with three winners ultimately awarded up to $700,000 of combined cash prizes and voucher support from the National Laboratories and Reclamation.

Below is the structure of the competition by stage:

Concept Stage (January 15 until April 15, 2020; Up to 10 Finalists)

  • Applicants submit up to 10-page-long submissions
  • Proposals evaluated based on technological innovation, concept feasibility, risk mitigation, and team

Incubation Stage (June 2020 to August 2020, Up to 50 Hours of National Lab Technical Assistance)

  • Finalists will receive 50 hours of support from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory from June through August in advance of the pitch contest
  • Work can include analysis, communication support, or light technical support

Pitch Contest (September 2020, Up to Three Winners)

  • Finalists submit a final report, including work conducted with the National Labs
  • Competitors will pitch in front of a live audience (including industry and regulatory experts who will serve as reviewers and help select winners) at the 150th anniversary event for the American Fisheries Society
  • The top three competitors will be awarded both cash and non-cash prizes such as voucher support to advance their technologies

Learn more about water power research, development, and testing at the EERE Water Power Technologies Office website.

Don’t forget to submit your proposals before April 15. Fish species, the hydropower industry, and water infrastructure systems need your help.

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