Up to $38 million in funding has been announced by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for a program to design economically attractive Hydrokinetic Turbines (HKT) for tidal and riverine currents.

The Submarine Hydrokinetic And Riverine Kilo-megawatt Systems (SHARKS) project is part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program.

“America’s tidal and riverine currents remain a valuable resource for the generation of clean and reliable electricity,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “Developing efficient, economically attractive hydrokinetic turbine technologies will enable the United States to utilize those resources and continue to diversify our energy generation infrastructure and increase grid resiliency.”

“The SHARKS program builds upon the foundation of previous ARPA-E programs focused on utilizing our nation’s natural resources to explore new ways to generate renewable power,” said ARPA-E Director Lane Genatowski. “We view this program as a great opportunity to further diversify America’s energy needs, and provide new and efficient energy generation sources for the nation’s grid.”

Tidal and riverine energy resources are renewable, have the advantage of being highly reliable and predictable, and are often co-located with demand centers, while HKT devices can be designed with low visual profiles and minimal environmental impact. These energy-producing devices are also uniquely suited for micro-grid applications, supplying energy to remote communities and other “blue economy” and utility-scale applications. 

The SHARKS program will develop HKT system designs while encouraging the application of Control Co-Design (CCD), Co-Design (CD) and Designing-for-OpEx (DFO) methodologies. 

These approaches require a wide range of disciplines to work concurrently during the concept design stage, as opposed to sequentially, and teams will require expertise from various scientific and engineering fields to optimize simultaneously. 

SHARKS will fund the development of new HKT designs that represent this challenge; including the development of new solutions for hydrodynamics, mechanical structures, materials, hydro-structural interactions, electrical energy conversion systems, control systems, numerical simulations and experimental validations. 

SHARKS projects will work towards a reduction in Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) of up to 61.5% compared to current state-of-the-art HKT systems.