Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Summer 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Department of Integrated Science and Technology

Abstract

This is an assessment of the emerging technology of hydrokinetic energy, specifically for current-based systems in rivers, streams or canals. The over reliance on fossil fuels for our power and energy needs is not only environmentally detrimental, but also unsustainable. By exploring means of electric power that emerge from existing technology, society can become less dependent upon non-renewable resources and move towards self-sustaining practices. I will begin with a US electricity overview, and then transition into a discussion about hydropower and its shift to hydrokinetic energy technology. After comparing both turbine and non-turbine hydrokinetic energy systems, the thesis then delves into specifics on turbine systems within rivers and tidal streams; non-turbine systems, although under development, are not being explored on a commercial scale and are outside the scope of this study. The diffusion of turbine-based hydrokinetic energy has been facilitated by different private companies and the government, and integrated within the energy system of the United States. Along with these facilitations, there have also been barriers that have halted various hydrokinetic projects. A technology assessment of specific hydrokinetic criteria is completed by the use of specific interview questions and companies that are in the hydrokinetic industry and willing to participate in the survey. These interviews were then evaluated based upon the company specific answers in order to determine future feasibility and pinpoint ways to better use hydrokinetic energy as a source of electricity.

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