American-Made Challenges

FAST Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower Prize

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) invites you to share your ideas to reduce the time, cost, and risk from concept to commissioning, excluding permitting, for pumped-storage hydropower (PSH). Finalists will receive vouchers for up to 50 hours of support from one of four DOE national laboratories to prepare for a pitch contest which will result in up to 3 winners and up to $550,000 of combined cash prizes and voucher support.

About the American-Made FAST Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower Prize

The Furthering Advancements to Shorten Time (FAST) Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower (PSH) Prize aims to attract ideas to reduce the time, cost, and risk required to commission PSH projects. This is the first prize of its kind and is structured to support anyone with a great idea and the motivation to develop their idea into a full business concept.

Today’s electricity system is changing rapidly and hydropower and PSH have an essential role in contributing to the resilience, reliability, and affordability of the U.S. power system. PSH is by far the largest source of energy storage on the grid, and it will play a key role in supporting increased integration of variable generation resources. But large capital investments and long lead times for PSH commissioning are deterrents to would-be developers and utilities.

The goal of the prize is to catalyze new solutions, designs, and strategies to accelerate PSH development by reducing the time, cost and risk to commission PSH. Ideas could include innovative PSH ideas, new layouts, creative construction management, improved construction equipment, application of advanced manufacturing, or standardization of equipment.

Contest Winners

Congratulations to the four grand prize winners, who received up to $550,000 in vouchers and cash prizes! They are:

entry title (listed alphabetically) team innovation
Accelerating PSH Construction with Steel Dams Gordon Wittmeyer, Southwest Research Institute Presented a modular steel concept for dams that cuts costs by one-third and cuts construction schedules in half.
Modular Closed-Loop Scalable Pump Storage Hydro Tom Eldredge and Hector Medina, Liberty University Presented a modular closed-loop, scalable PSH system with a capacity range of 1–10 megawatt, adaptable to sites without natural bodies of water.
Reducing PSH Excavation Duration, Cost, & Risk Tracy Livingston and Thomas Conroy, Team Livingston Combined excavation equipment modifications and process optimizations to achieve up to 50% reduction in excavation timelines.
Use of Modern TBMs for Underground Pumped Storage Doug Spaulding, Nelson Energy and Golder Associates Proposed use of tunnel boring machines for underground excavation, which can decrease excavation time by 50% and reduce costs.

Important Dates

  • Release of Prize: April 1, 2019
  • Concept Stage Closes: Concept Stage Submission Deadline: June 7, 2019
  • Concept Stage Winners Announcement: Notification of Up to 10 Finalists for Incubation: July 2019
  • Incubation Stage Starts: Incubation Support (up to 50 hours of technical assistance): July – October 2019
  • Incubation Stage Closes: Submission of Final Report and Pitch Deck: October 2019
  • Pitch Contest Stage: FAST Prize pitch contest: October 2019
  • Grand Prize Winner Announcement: pitch contest Winners Announced: October 2019
  • Grand Prize Winners Voucher Support: Prize Winners Voucher Period: Voucher support (up to 3 winners and up to $550,000 of combined cash prizes and voucher support): November 2019 – September 2020

All dates are subject to change including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements. Final dates for the close of the incubation stage and the pitch contest will be posted at or before the announcement of winners of the Concept Stage.

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