Today, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced the launch of the Water Security Grand Challenge, a White House initiated, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water.
“Through this Grand Challenge, we will advance technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure and affordable water,” said Secretary Perry. “We’ll call on the power of competition to spur innovation, draw on the strengths of our partners and stakeholders, and tap into the expertise and world-class capabilities of DOE’s 17 National Labs.”
Using a coordinated suite of prizes, competitions, early-stage research and development funding opportunities, critical partnerships, and other programs, the Water Security Grand Challenge sets the following goals for the United States to reach by 2030:
Launch desalination technologies that deliver cost-competitive clean water
Transform the energy sector’s produced water from a waste to a resource
Achieve near-zero water impact for new thermoelectric power plants, and significantly lower freshwater use intensity within the existing fleet
Double resource recovery from municipal wastewater
Develop small, modular energy-water systems for urban, rural, tribal, national security, and disaster response settings.
DOE will partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Water Security Grand Challenge, and is pursuing additional opportunities to collaborate with other agencies, industry, and stakeholders.
“The Grand Challenge will incentivize new technologies aimed at solving one of the most important global challenges of our time – providing access to clean, safe, and secure water,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA looks forward to partnering with DOE to help bring clean and safe water to communities across the country and find innovative ways to transform non-traditional water sources into resources.”
Additional partnership activities to support achieving the Grand Challenge goals include: DOE’s previously announced Cooperation Agreement with Chevron Technology Ventures on the Chevron Tech Challenge for produced water—a contest seeking cost-effective solutions for managing produced water from oil and gas exploration. DOE has also entered into an agreement with The Water Council, a Milwaukee-based non-profit organization, to support its efforts to develop prize competitions to drive innovation on critical water issues.
DOE is hosting a stakeholder workshop today at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to gather input from external experts on potential DOE prizes and next steps. As the Challenge matures, DOE expects to continue to bring new partners on board and identify additional prizes and other program contributions.
The Water Security Grand Challenge was developed over the course of several months and benefitted from significant input from external experts and stakeholders. In March, Secretary Perry convened a roundtable featuring water quality and innovation prize experts to inform the Challenge. Earlier this year, the Department also released a Request for Information to solicit input from the public on water issues that prizes could help address.