Assssment and Mapping of the Riverine Hydrokinetic Resource in the Continental United States

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded the Electric Power Research Institute and its collaborative partners, University of Alaska ? Anchorage, University of Alaska ? Fairbanks, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to provide an assessment of the riverine hydrokinetic resource in the continental United States. The assessment benefited from input obtained during two workshops attended by individuals with relevant expertise and from a National Research Council panel commissioned by DOE to provide guidance to this and other concurrent, DOE-funded assessments of water based renewable energy. These sources of expertise provided valuable advice regarding data sources and assessment methodology. The ... continued below

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Jacobson, Paul T.; Ravens, Thomas M.; Cunningham, Keith W. & Scott, George December 14, 2012.

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded the Electric Power Research Institute and its collaborative partners, University of Alaska ? Anchorage, University of Alaska ? Fairbanks, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to provide an assessment of the riverine hydrokinetic resource in the continental United States. The assessment benefited from input obtained during two workshops attended by individuals with relevant expertise and from a National Research Council panel commissioned by DOE to provide guidance to this and other concurrent, DOE-funded assessments of water based renewable energy. These sources of expertise provided valuable advice regarding data sources and assessment methodology. The assessment of the hydrokinetic resource in the 48 contiguous states is derived from spatially-explicit data contained in NHDPlus ?a GIS-based database containing river segment-specific information on discharge characteristics and channel slope. 71,398 river segments with mean annual flow greater than 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) mean discharge were included in the assessment. Segments with discharge less than 1,000 cfs were dropped from the assessment, as were river segments with hydroelectric dams. The results for the theoretical and technical resource in the 48 contiguous states were found to be relatively insensitive to the cutoff chosen. Raising the cutoff to 1,500 cfs had no effect on estimate of the technically recoverable resource, and the theoretical resource was reduced by 5.3%. The segment-specific theoretical resource was estimated from these data using the standard hydrological engineering equation that relates theoretical hydraulic power (Pth, Watts) to discharge (Q, m3 s-1) and hydraulic head or change in elevation (??, m) over the length of the segment, where ? is the specific weight of water (9800 N m-3): ??? = ? ? ?? For Alaska, which is not encompassed by NPDPlus, hydraulic head and discharge data were manually obtained from Idaho National Laboratory?s Virtual Hydropower Prospector, Google Earth, and U.S. Geological Survey gages. Data were manually obtained for the eleven largest rivers with average flow rates greater than 10,000 cfs and the resulting estimate of the theoretical resource was expanded to include rivers with discharge between 1,000 cfs and 10,000 cfs based upon the contribution of rivers in the latter flow class to the total estimate in the contiguous 48 states. Segment-specific theoretical resource was aggregated by major hydrologic region in the contiguous, lower 48 states and totaled 1,146 TWh/yr. The aggregate estimate of the Alaska theoretical resource is 235 TWh/yr, yielding a total theoretical resource estimate of 1,381 TWh/yr for the continental US. The technically recoverable resource in the contiguous 48 states was estimated by applying a recovery factor to the segment-specific theoretical resource estimates. The recovery factor scales the theoretical resource for a given segment to take into account assumptions such as minimum required water velocity and depth during low flow conditions, maximum device packing density, device efficiency, and flow statistics (e.g., the 5 percentile flow relative to the average flow rate). The recovery factor also takes account of ?back effects? ? feedback effects of turbine presence on hydraulic head and velocity. The recovery factor was determined over a range of flow rates and slopes using the hydraulic model, HEC-RAS. In the hydraulic modeling, presence of turbines was accounted for by adjusting the Manning coefficient. This analysis, which included 32 scenarios, led to an empirical function relating recovery factor to slope and discharge. Sixty-nine percent of NHDPlus segments included in the theoretical resource estimate for the contiguous 48 states had an estimated recovery factor of zero. For Alaska, data on river slope was not readily available; hence, the recovery factor was estimated based on the flow rate alone. Segment-specific estimates of the theoretical resource were multiplied by the corresponding recovery factor to estimate the technically recoverable resource. The resulting technically recoverable resource estimate for the continental United States is 120 TWh/yr.

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  • Report No.: DOE/EE/0002662-1
  • Grant Number: EE0002662
  • DOI: 10.2172/1092058 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1092058
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc844286

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  • December 14, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • July 21, 2016, 8:22 p.m.

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Jacobson, Paul T.; Ravens, Thomas M.; Cunningham, Keith W. & Scott, George. Assssment and Mapping of the Riverine Hydrokinetic Resource in the Continental United States, report, December 14, 2012; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc844286/: accessed December 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.