Alaska Shows Greatest Potential For Ocean Energy Development

With its lengthy stretches of coast line, rapid currents and big waves, Alaska could be capable of producing about a fifth of the nation’s electricity. That’s according to two new reports released by the United States Department of Energy that find that the state’s waters have enough energy in them to produce over 850 terawatt hours of electricity every year – that’s enough to run over 800 billion space heaters all day, year round.

Right now, only about 6 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from hydropower resources. The Department of Energy is aiming to boost water power usage up to 15 percent by 2030.

Mike Reed is the team leader for DOE’s water program, and he says the development of ocean energy could be a big part of meeting that objective.

According to one assessment, the most productive regions in Alaska are Cook Inlet, the Aleutian Islands, and Bristol Bay. Water program staffer Hoyt Beatty, says Alaska’s coastal and island communities are uniquely positioned to take advantage of ocean energy.

However, while Alaska’s waters are capable of producing plenty of energy, developing it all wouldn’t be cost-effective, especially in sparsely populated regions. The Department of Energy is conducting a technical and economic assessment of what developing ocean energy would entail, and how much potential energy could realistically be harnessed.

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