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Energy Department releases map showing tidal power potential on US coasts

January 31, 2012

Tidal power US released the first ever GIS mapping of the Northeast’s tidal power capacity along the coastline in 2008. Finally, DOE has extrapolated this work to the entire US coastline. The DOE has released two reports that paint an encouraging picture of the long-term viability of tidal energy and its ocean-going companion, wave power.  The Energy Department press release announcing the reports boasts that they “represent the most rigorous analysis undertaken to date to accurately define the magnitude and location of America’s ocean energy resources,” and given the overall dearth of mainstream information out there on ocean energy sources, they’re probably right.

In total, the reports estimate that when combined with hydropower and other water-based resources, tidal and wave could help to account for up to 15 percent of the US electricity supply by 2030.  As we’ve been saying all along, while that won’t necessarily keep the lights on all by itself, when combined with growing solar and wind sectors, tidal and wave have the potential to add to a strong and expanding renewable energy portfolio.  Of course, much of this depends on the ability of these early-stage technologies to attract enough private capital to get off the ground, which largely depends (at least in the initial stages) on continued federal support, which is not necessarily a guarantee.

Still, the DOE report is another indication of the United States’ vast potential to develop clean, home-grown energy (and attract that jobs that would come along with that development).  15 percent by 2030 sounds a long way off, but the decisions we make today will have a big impact on whether those figures constitute pure fantasy or legitimate reality tomorrow.

Read the Energy Department press release and find PDF links to the wave and tidal reports here.

by Matthew Buccelli

DOE Reports Major Potential for US Wave and Tidal Energy Production (US Department of Energy)

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