EPRI states hydrokinetic power could provide 3 percent of U.S. annual demand

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has determined that undeveloped hydrokinetic resources in U.S. rivers could provide 3 percent of the nation’s annual demand for electricity. EPRI made the determination after a mapping and assessment of hydrokinetic resources in rivers of the continental U.S.

The assessment, which analyzed 71,398 river segments across the 48 contiguous states and additional river segments in Alaska, yielded a total theoretical resource estimate of 1,381 TWh/yr, which is 25 percent of annual U.S. electricity consumption. That number was adjusted to a technically recoverable estimate because of constraints to developing the resource, EPRI waterpower research project manager Paul Jacobson said.

The technically recoverable resource estimate for the continental U.S. is 120 TWh/yr, about 3 percent of annual U.S. electricity consumption. The amount of that which is practically recoverable would be lower than 3 percent.

“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,” Jacobson said.

The Lower Mississippi region would contribute almost half of the technically recoverable resource estimate. Alaska would provide 17.1 percent, the Pacific Northwest region 9.2 percent, and the Ohio region 5.7 percent. Those four regions comprise around 80 percent of the technically recoverable hydrokinetic resources in the continental U.S.

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