NREL To Manage New Wind Energy Competition

The Prize Aims To Accelerate Design and Deployment of U.S. Floating Offshore Wind Energy Technology

Sept. 15, 2022 | By Carol Laurie | Contact media relations

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Energy Technologies Office, is administering the FLoating Offshore Wind ReadINess (FLOWIN) Prize, the newest competition in the American-Made Challenges program.

The FLOWIN Prize was announced as part of DOE’s new Floating Offshore Wind Shot, one of DOE’s Energy Earthshots, the goal of which is to drive down the costs of floating offshore wind energy by 70% by 2035. This goes along with a 15-gigawatt deployment goal from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which could generate enough clean electricity to power more than 5 million American homes, create good-paying jobs in a wide range of fields, spur investment, and establish the United States as a major leader in the global floating offshore wind energy industry.

About two-thirds of the nation’s offshore wind resources are in areas with water more than 60 meters deep—where floating offshore wind turbines are more practical than fixed-bottom ones, and their mooring lines and anchor systems are more cost effective than fixed-bottom wind turbine support structures that are driven into the seafloor. The FLOWIN Prize is designed to help develop a domestic supply chain and accelerate market readiness of U.S. floating offshore wind energy designs, thus opening up deeper U.S. waters for offshore wind energy deployment, like those found on the West Coast.

“The FLOWIN Prize will bring the United States closer to achieving the goals of the new Floating Offshore Wind Shot,” said Amy Robertson, NREL’s offshore wind energy group manager and the lead technical advisor on the prize. “Prize competitors will help bridge the gap between offshore wind energy potential and the development and deployment of commercial-scale floating offshore wind energy in U.S. waters.”

Although no commercial-scale floating offshore wind power projects have been constructed in the United States yet, mass-manufacturing capabilities and infrastructure could make floating offshore wind energy more cost effective.

Illustration of an array of offshore wind energy turbines and a ship moving among them that shows the massive scale of the turbines. One turbine features underwater detail of its substructure, with attached cables going deep into the ocean water. In the corner is a U.S. Department of Energy American-Made Wind Prize logo.
The FLoating Offshore Wind ReadINess (FLOWIN) Prize, recently announced as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Floating Offshore Wind Shot, is designed to accelerate the market readiness of U.S. floating offshore wind energy technologies. With extensive experience managing American-Made Challenges competitions, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory was selected to administer the prize. Image by Besiki Kazaishvili, NREL

Prize Goals and Awards

The FLOWIN Prize is designed to:

  • Advance designs of floating offshore wind turbine platforms for manufacturing
  • Improve supply chain readiness to enable mass production and assembly in the United States
  • Lower associated costs and risks.

In addition, the Prize will further the principles of inclusion and environmental justice embodied in the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative by requiring competitors to indicate how their manufacturing and supply chain development plans can benefit disadvantaged and underserved communities. It will also further the administration’s commitment to creating high-quality jobs, domestic manufacturing, and worker empowerment, as competitors demonstrate the anticipated benefits to America’s workforce.

The total FLOWIN prize pool is $5.75 million, plus up to $1.1 million in vouchers for technical support from DOE national laboratories.

“Most innovators don’t know how to work with national laboratories and are not aware of their wealth of expertise, facilities, and equipment,” Robertson said. “That’s why giving FLOWIN Prize competitors the opportunity to work directly with national laboratory researchers and identify available laboratory resources is important to the progression of floating offshore wind energy technologies toward market readiness.”

Prizes will be divided among multiple awardees, and multiple awards will be made for each phase. Only winning teams will be eligible to compete in the next phase.

Three Prize Phases

Phase One: Qualification and Teaming

The first phase of the competition is now open and will close on Jan. 13, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET.

In the first phase, teams will show they have a design ready to move toward mass manufacturing. Winners will include teams that have identified commercialization challenges with their floating offshore wind energy platform technology and demonstrate that they can make significant progress toward identifying and developing a supply chain within the United States to produce the technology.  

Up to eight Phase One winners will each receive $100,000 in cash and $75,000 in technical support vouchers.

Phase Two: U.S. Manufacturing Approaches

Winners from Phase One will be eligible to move into the second competition phase, in which each team will develop a pathway for mass production and assembly of its floating offshore wind energy substructure design.

Up to five Phase Two winners will each receive $450,000 in cash and $100,000 in technical support vouchers.

Phase Three: Detailed Implementation Pathways

The final phase of the competition is open only to Phase Two winners. During Phase Three, each team will complete implementation pathways for the U.S. manufacture and deployment of the team’s floating offshore wind energy technology in a specific U.S. region. Competitors must also indicate how their manufacturing and supply chain development strategies will benefit disadvantaged and underserved communities.

Up to three Phase Three winners will each receive $900,000 in cash.

Text within a graphic of a floating offshore wind turbine’s blades is like a pie chart split in thirds. Content within those sections reads, “Phase I, Qualification and Teaming,” “Phase 2, U.S. Manufacturing Approaches,” and “Phase 3, Detailed Implementation Pathways.” An American Made Challenges logo is next to the words “FLOWIN Prize Timeline” above a table with three rows. The top row reads, “Phase 1 Submission Opens: Aug. 22, 2022, Closes: 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 16, 2022, Winners Announcement and Awards: February 2023 (anticipated). The middle reads: “Phase 2 Opens: March 2023 (anticipated), Submission Closes: November 2023 (anticipated), Winners Announcement and Awards: January 2024 (anticipated). The bottom row reads, “Phase 3 Opens: January 2024 (anticipated), Submission Closes: October 2024, Winners Announcement and Awards: December 2024 (anticipated).”
The FLOWIN Prize has three phases that will run from 2022 to 2024 focused on setting up project teams, identifying manufacturing methods, and developing U.S. implementation pathways to accelerate new floating offshore wine energy technologies. Image by John Frenzl, NREL

Learn More

The FLOWIN Prize is funded by DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office and administered by NREL in partnership with the Business Network for Offshore Wind.

Register for the informational webinar on Sept. 22, 2022, at 11 a.m. ET.

Learn more about how to participate in the prize on the American-Made Challenges website.