Request for Information: Hydropower Industry Research and Development Incentivization

NREL has issued a request for information (RFI) from the broader hydropower industry to work with a variety of stakeholders to ensure that suitable prizes are developed going forward.

Diablo Dam
Stakeholders will help shape future hydropower prize strategy by providing feedback through the Hydropower Industry Research and Development Incentivization RFI. Photo by Karl Specht, U.S. Department of Energy


The purpose of this RFI is to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on R&D needs, which could inform future hydropower prize development.

How To Respond

All responses shall be submitted in writing via email to on or before 5 p.m. MT on Dec. 17, 2021. In your response, please answer the questions below individually, and clearly indicate which questions you are responding to. The email subject line must be "Request for Information (RFI)/Hydropower."

Brevity is encouraged, and responders do not need to respond to all the questions but can respond to only the ones that they are interested in. Read the full RFI for details.

About Hydropower Prizes

The U.S. Department Of Energy's Water Power Technologies Office has launched a number of hydropower-focused prizes, including the FAST Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower Prize, the Fish Protection Prize, the I AM Hydro Prize, and the Groundbreaking Hydro Prize to encourage the development of new ideas for hydropower and pumped storage hydropower development as well as mitigate the surrounding environmental challenges.


NREL is interested in learning the following from stakeholders:

  1. Have you ever applied for or received prize funding from U.S. Department of Energy or another federal agency? Have you ever competed in a similar R&D competition?
    1. If so, what do you see as strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for better enticement?
    2. If not, what has kept you from competing?
      1. Were you aware of the types of opportunities presented in the background section of this RFI?
      2. Were the award potentials appropriate for each prize described in the background section? If not, how could they have been adjusted?
      3. Is 60–180 days, depending on the prize type and stage, sufficient to prepare an application?
      4. Were the topics relevant to your perceived industry needs? If not, what adjustments could have been made?

  2. How do you normally hear about funding opportunities: word of mouth, professional organization, Water Power Technologies Office newsletters, American-Made Challenges, or elsewhere?
    1. Were you aware of the past prizes described above?

  3. What do you think is the biggest issue(s) facing hydropower that could be advanced or solved by a prize competition?
    1. Do you see this challenge(s) as something that could be advanced or solved by a prize? If not, why?
    2. What is a meaningful investment for a prize competition to help solve this problem? What type of award would be most helpful (i.e., cash, expert technical assistance, facilities access, other)?
    3. If a prize was offered to address the challenge noted in Question 3 do you believe you/your company would compete? If not, why?

  4. If you or your place of work was to look at solving a common hydropower problem, what would it take to be "excited" to make these innovations or think about solutions?
    1. If you or your place of work was to look at solving a common hydropower problem, what resources (amount of money, amount of time, technology, etc.) would be needed to design these solutions?
    2. Would you or your place of work be interested in competing in a prize? If not, why?

  5. In designing solutions to common hydropower problems, which types of support that are offered by the Water Power Technologies Office's prizes would be most beneficial to the progress of the solution? Please rank the following from most important to least important:
    1. Cash prizes
    2. Expert technical assistance
    3. Access to design and manufacturing facilities
    4. Access to lab space
    5. Business plan and marketing support
    6. Networking with the hydropower industry
    7. Other.


If you have questions, email Amanda Morton.