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

Fall 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Integrated Science and Technology


Small hydropower is an underutilized form of clean energy generation. In order for any potential for small hydropower to be developed or utilized, the amount of potential power needs to be estimated accurately. A number of studies have been conducted, though none of these studies have taken local climate into account, which affects the accuracy of their results. A number of places in Northern California have potential that has not yet been utilized, but a more accurate assessment of that potential is called for. Although studies can be conducted through a number of different methodologies, most use GIS technology to analyze the data. Laying out the exact methodology allows for the results to be verified, and for additional, refining studies to be conducted. The important piece of the methodology is the equation that is used to determine the potential power at any point. The methodology established here shows that there is unutilized small hydropower potential in the Northern California region. Comparison with the results of previous studies leads to surprising results, as the results of these studies vary in unexpected ways. A simple comparison of input data, rather than the final results of the studies, shows ways in which these previous studies are inaccurate. Starting with measured data, not unexplained models, makes this study more accurate than the previous studies. Also, presenting the process in a way that is transparent with results that are more accessible and understandable should allow for replication and make the findings available to the general public.