Assessment Concludes Waterpower Could Provide 3% of U.S. Annual Electricity Use

| 3/18/2013 10:31:27 AM

Tags: waterpower, hydrokinetic, renewable energy, Electric Power Research Institute,

This press release was provided by Electric Power Research Institute

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) recently completed a mapping and assessment of hydrokinetic resources in rivers of the continental United States and found that these undeveloped resources could provide 3 percent of the nation’s annual use of electricity. The EPRI found that rivers could provide 3 percent of the nation’s annual use of electricity. 

The assessment is part of an effort by the U.S. Department of Energy to characterize U.S. hydrokinetic waterpower resources including river, wave, tidal, ocean thermal and ocean current. EPRI completed an ocean wave energy mapping and assessment in 2011.

The assessment analyzed 71,398 river segments across the 48 contiguous states and additional river segments in Alaska. It yielded a total theoretical resource estimate of 1,381 TWh/yr for the continental United States, which is equivalent to approximately 25 percent of annual U.S. electricity consumption.

Paul Jacobson, project manager for EPRI’s waterpower research, said, “The theoretical estimate provides perspective on the magnitude of river resources in the United States. We then broke that number down further to a technically recoverable estimate because there are constraints to developing the resource.”

The technically recoverable resource estimate for the continental United States is 120 TWh/yr, which represents approximately 3 percent of annual U.S. electricity consumption. Jacobson added: “Although the practically recoverable resource is an unknown fraction of the technically recoverable resource, the assessment shows that hydrokinetic generation could be an important renewable energy option for the United States.”

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