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In September 2013, EERE completed a series of resource assessments showing the technically recoverable potential energy available in the nation’s waves, tidal and river currents, and ocean thermal gradients. These resource assessments are pivotal to understanding water power's potential and making these resources available to contribute to the United States' total annual electricity production—further diversifying the nation's energy portfolio and providing clean, renewable energy to U.S. cities and communities.
These reports represent the most rigorous analysis undertaken to date to accurately define the magnitude and location of U.S. and global wave, tidal, ocean thermal, and continental U.S. river hydrokinetic resources. With more than 50% of the population living within 50 miles of coastlines, there is vast potential to provide clean, renewable electricity to communities and cities across the United States using marine and hydrokinetic technologies.
The maximum theoretical electric generation that could be produced from waves, tidal and riverine currents, and ocean thermal gradients in U.S. waters is approximately 2,116 TWh per year. For context, the United States uses about 4,000 TWh of electricity per year. Although not all of the resource potential identified in these assessments can realistically be developed, the nation's enormous water marine and hydrokinetic energy potential still represents major opportunities for development.
The Water Power Program is committed to developing and deploying a portfolio of innovative technologies for clean, domestic power generation from resources such as hydropower, waves, and tides.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.
EERE research confirms the potential of more than 2,000 TWh per year of available electricity in the form of wave, tidal, and current energy off of U.S. coasts.