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The Latest From USACA

SMI's 2015 Annual Marine Energy Report

The SMI Water Power Team worked hard on multiple fronts during 2015 representing the interests of the marine energy industry here in Washington. We supported our clients, including the National Hydropower Association's (NHA) Marine Energy Council (MEC), and other interested parties to increase the U.S. Federal Government's support for the commercialization of advanced water power technologies.

SMI continues to implement government marketing strategies to position the marine renewable energy industry for increased federal funding for technology development, demonstration and deployment. We thought you might appreciate an update on our activities since our last report, along with news highlights from the industry and a schedule of upcoming events.

It has been quite a year with several interesting developments. First, we are grateful that our friends in the U.S. Congress managed to pass a Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funding bill that increased funding for marine energy R&D by 9% from 2015 levels. We also note that the Department of Energy (DOE) has been directed to establish a stand-alone Water Power Technologies Office with dedicated staff and leadership for all water power issues, as well as a direction to the DOE to spend at least $22 million for industry led R&D and demonstrations. Additionally, we expect new DOE funding opportunities for device deployments at the Navy's Wave Energy Test Facility (WETS) in Hawaii and a new structured innovation program.

2015 also saw the announcement of $7.4 million in new DOE water power awards for advanced components for wave and tidal systems, which included advanced controls, crosscutting power take off, and innovative structures. Awards were also announced under the Next Generation Marine Energy Systems - Durability and Survivability Funding Opportunity. Congratulations to the awardees! Without our combined lobbying efforts, this funding would not likely be available to
support these projects.

With a U.S. Congress that has shown preferences for prioritizing conventional energy sources, we were concerned that there would be significant cuts to Water Power and Department of Defense Alternative Energy research accounts supporting marine energy. While there were reductions in various DOE clean energy programs (the wind program received a 12% cut from 2015 levels, for example), there was a concerted advocacy effort to ensure that marine energy is viewed favorably for increased federal support. We still have a lot of work to do to catch up to the solar ($241M), coal carbon capture ($430M) and fusion ($438M) R&D programs, but with your support and advocacy, we can continue to raise the profile of the industry and secure higher levels of funding for marine energy moving forward.

We look forward to working with you in 2016. Please feel free to reach out to us with any thoughts or ideas on how SMI can be even more effective for the industry. We expect a busy 2016 as we go after new investments to accelerate the material contribution of advanced water power technologies to U.S. and global energy, economic and environmental goals.