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Market Acceleration: Expanding Education, Stimulating Innovation

NREL's extensive market acceleration work, programs for developing the next generation workforce, and international hydropower studies, helps move hydropower development forward.

Photo of a group of children wearing 3-D visualization glasses.

Pathways to Commercialization

Challenges and prizes revitalize the mature hydropower field by fostering entrepreneurial idea development and encouraging cross-industry collaboration.

The Furthering Advancements to Shorten Time (FAST) Commissioning for Pumped Storage Hydropower Prize aims to reduce the time, cost, and risk required to commission pumped storage hydropower (PSH) projects—factors that have kept new PSH projects out of the market in recent decades.

The hydropower prize portfolio, led by NREL, aims to engage the innovator community on a range of new solutions for hydropower development, including standard and modular hydropower components as well as utilization of advanced manufacturing for hydropower.

The goal of every prize is to catalyze new solutions, designs, and strategies that help accelerate pumped storage hydropower and hydropower development. NREL leads this work and actively collaborates with competitors and other national laboratories to help develop ideas into viable business concepts.


Tessa Greco

Water Power Special Projects Lead

International Hydropower

Aging infrastructure, growth in renewable generation, and competing demands for water due to population growth and extreme events, are catalyzing greater interest in the reliability, resilience, risks, and maximum value of hydropower and pumped hydro storage systems.

NREL helps countries worldwide address these challenges and uncertainties through novel technologies, modeling, analysis, and integrated strategies to inform operation, planning, project development, and policy decisions that address the tradeoffs and synergies between energy, water, and land.


Jennifer Daw

Senior Researcher and Group Manager

Workforce Development

NREL has a long track record of addressing workforce development needs across the renewable energy spectrum.

We have created tools to assess long-term workforce needs such as the Jobs and Economic Impact Models, and provided analysis of workforce needs for wind and hydropower technologies through workforce training and education.

NREL also leverages our experience engaging with stakeholder communities to understand barriers to technology adoption and identify issues and drivers, provide feedback to the R&D community, clarify misperceptions, and facilitate market adoption.

This work includes efforts such as the Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit for Hydropower development, the Hydropower Workforce Development Report, and a marine energy cable exclusion assessment to determine potential impacts on marine development from undersea telecommunications cables.


Elise DeGeorge

Group Manager III – Water power Group

STEM Education

Although hydropower is a mainstay of the U.S. power sector, the lack of new hydropower development has limited the number of education programs in this sector at all levels.

NREL is working to address this gap by developing educational programs and improving program accessibility (across the high school through postgraduate levels) and increasing awareness of marine and hydropower as a renewable energy career (via secondary school, vocational and apprenticeship programs, and undergraduate curricula).


Elise DeGeorge

Group Manager III – Water power Group