U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Water Power Program
Survey Finds U.S. Rivers Could Provide 3% of Nation's Electricity
February 27, 2013
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) recently completed a mapping and assessment of hydrokinetic resources in continental U.S. rivers and found that these undeveloped resources could provide 3% of the nation's annual use of electricity. The assessment is part of an Energy Department effort to assess U.S. hydrokinetic waterpower resources, including river, wave, tidal, ocean thermal, and ocean current.
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 terawatt-hours per year (TWh/yr) for the continental United States, which is equivalent to approximately 25% of annual U.S. electricity consumption. Because there are constraints on developing many sites, the study found that the technically recoverable resource estimate for the continental United States is 120 TWh/yr, or approximately 3% of annual U.S. electricity consumption.
The results show that the Lower Mississippi region constitutes almost half (47.9%) of the technically recoverable resource estimate; Alaska, 17.1%; the Pacific Northwest region, 9.2%; and the Ohio region, 5.7%. See the EPRI press release.