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ARPA-E SHARKS: new program to develop hydrokinetic turbines for tidal and riverine currents

ARPA-E announced up to $38 million in funding for a new program—Submarine Hydrokinetic And Riverine Kilo-megawatt Systems (SHARKS)—to design economically attractive Hydrokinetic Turbines (HKT) for tidal and riverine currents. (DE-FOA-0002334)

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 utility-scale applications.

Despite these attractive qualities, current HKTs are too expensive for deployment due to technical challenges and harsh operational environments. Hydrokinetic energy systems’ low technical readiness calls for a system-level approach that will include hydrodynamics, structural dynamics, control systems, power electronics, grid connections, and performance optimization, while at the same time minimizing potential negative environmental effects and maximizing system reliability.

This program seeks to fund new holistic HKT designs to reduce significantly their levelized cost of energy (LCOE).


SHARKS encourages the application of control co-design (CCD), co-design (CD), and designing for operation and maintenance (DFO) methodologies. These three methodologies require a wide range of disciplines to work concurrently, as opposed to sequentially, during the concept design stage.

In addition, technical and environmental challenges inhibiting the convergence of HKT designs require expertise from various scientific and engineering fields, necessitating the use of multi-disciplinary teams.

Projects will need to reduce the LCOE through multiple approaches, including increasing generation efficiency, increasing rotor area per unit of equivalent mass, lowering operation and maintenance costs, minimizing potential negative impacts on the surrounding environment, and maximizing system reliability among others. SHARKS is expected to span three years with $38 million in funded projects.


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