National Geodatabase of Ocean Current Power Resource in USA

Journal Article

Title: National Geodatabase of Ocean Current Power Resource in USA
Publication Date:
April 01, 2015
Journal: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Volume: 44
Pages: 496-507
Publisher: Elsevier

Document Access

Website: External Link


Yang, X.; Haas, K.; Fritz, H.; French, S.; Shi, X.; Neary, V.; Gunawan, B. (2015). National Geodatabase of Ocean Current Power Resource in USA. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 44, 496-507.

Ocean currents represent an alternative source of clean energy given their inherent reliability, persistence and sustainability. The general ocean circulation is characterized by large rotating ocean gyres resulting in rapid ocean currents along the western boundaries because of the Coriolis Effect. The Gulf Stream system is formed by the western boundary current of the North Atlantic Ocean flowing along the east coast of the United States, and is of particular interest as a potential energy resource for the United States. This study presents a national database of ocean current kinetic energy resource derived from seven years of numerical model simulations to help advance awareness and market penetration for ocean current energy. A web based GIS interface is provided for dissemination of the national energy resource data: The website includes GIS layers of computed monthly and yearly mean ocean current speed and associated power density along the coastlines of the United States, as well as joint and marginal probability histograms for current velocities at a variable horizontal resolution of 4–7 km. Various tools are provided for viewing, identifying, filtering and downloading the data from this website. The Gulf Stream system, especially the Florida Current, concentrates the highest kinetic power density (>2000W/m2). The majority of the kinetic power and its variability are only present in relatively shallow water given the strong correlation with the surface wind stress. The kinetic energy flux in the Florida Current is estimated over 30 years to provide temporal variability of the undisturbed kinetic energy with high statistical significance. Available power of approximately 5 GW associated with the undisturbed natural flow condition from the Gulf Stream system is predicted based on hypothetical turbine parameters. Successful development of renewable energy generation requires further studies to account for more precise technical, economic and environmental constraints.

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