U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Water Power Program
Resource Assessment and Characterization
Hydropower already provides 6-8% of the nation's electricity, and the ocean represents a largely untapped renewable energy resource with potential to provide clean electricity to coastal communities and cities across the United States. There is significant opportunity for water power to provide large amounts of clean and renewable power. The Water Power Program is invested significantly in comprehensive analysis of ocean energy potential for future electricity production.
The Water Power Program has released reports that assess the total technically recoverable energy available in the nation's waves, tidal and river currents, ocean thermal gradients, and non-powered dams. The program plans to release additional program-funded assessments of ocean current and hydropower resources.
Assessments of United States Water Power
Resource assessment is pivotal to understanding the water power's potential for future electricity production.
Riverine Hydrokinetic Resource Assessment: Assessment and Mapping of the Riverine Hydrokinetic Resource in the Continental United States
This report, authored by the Electric Power Research Institute, assesses the technically recoverable riverine (or "run-of-river") hydrokinetic energy resource—energy extractable from river flows without the use of a dam—in the contiguous 48 states and Alaska, excluding tidal waters. The potential for riverine hydrokinetic generation for the continental United States is estimated at 120 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year.
Ocean Thermal Resource Assessment: Ocean Thermal Extractable Energy Visualization
This report, authored by a team led by Lockheed Martin, assesses the Maximum Practicably Extractable Energy from the world's ocean thermal resources. Annual electric generation potential from ocean thermal resources is estimated at 576 TWh in U.S. coastal waters (including all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands).
Wave Resource Assessment: Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy Resource
This report, created by the Electric Power Research Institute, assesses ocean wave energy potential along the U.S. coasts. Researchers at Virginia Tech and DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory supported the report and data validation. In total, electric generation from waves could amount to more than 1,170 TWh/year, which is almost one third of the 4,000 TWh of electricity used in the United States each year.
Tidal Streams Resource Assessment: Assessment of the Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United States
This report, created by Georgia Tech, assesses the maximum theoretically available energy in the nation's tidal streams. Tidal electric generation potential is estimated to be approximately 250 TWh/yr, based on DOE analysis of the data contained in the final report.
Nonpowered Dams Assessment: An Assessment of Energy Potential at Non-Powered Dams in the United States
This report, created by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, assesses the existing non-powered dams across the nation to determine the ability for selected sites to generate electricity. Electric generation potential for non-powered dams is estimated at 12.1 gigawatts, a potential equivalent to increasing the size of today's hydropower fleet by 15%.
Mapping and Visual Tools of United States Water Power
These online databases allow users to pan, zoom, and filter data of the water power's energy potential.
Wave and Ocean Thermal Energy Resource Maps: MHK Atlas
This atlas maps both U.S. wave energy and ocean thermal resources, and will host other ocean energy data sets in the future.
For the ocean thermal layer, Lockheed Martin, Florida Atlantic University, University of Hawai'i, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory assembled the dataset and developed the software tool to provide a meaningful assessment of maximum extractable energy using both ocean thermal energy conversion and seawater cooling technologies.
Tidal Streams Resource Maps: Assessment of the Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United States
This database provides researchers insight into the potential of the tidal ocean energy resource. Oak Ridge National Laboratory validated the model's accuracy and the resulting data can be viewed in this online resource mapping tool.
Riverine Resource Map: River Atlas
This atlas maps the generation potential of rivers in the continental United States, showing both their theoretical and technically recoverable potential. The Electric Power Research Institute, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the University of Alaska-Anchorage assembled the dataset and performed both sets of resource potential assessments.
Non-Powered Dams Resource Map: Powering Up America's Waterways
This map shows the generation potential of the top 600 dams that do not currently produce power, but that could each add potential capacity ranging from 1-500 megawatts. Download the underlying data.