The U.S. hydropower sector produces 38% of domestic renewable energy electricity through hydroelectric reservoirs connected to dams. Developing technologies in water-based renewables, called marine renewable or hydrokinetic energy, are providing new opportunities for the use of water as a power source and present opportunities for decreasing dependence on fossil fuels and improving environmental outcomes.
Hydrokinetic energy generates power through waves, tides, or currents, typically in marine or river settings. The use of hydrokinetic energy has been explored, but to date, only minimal commercial application of this technology has been realized. Recent advances in efficiency and scale have made it an increasingly viable energy option, especially for remote communities that have limited access to electricity from standard power grids.
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University have developed a technology for energy harvesting from a hydrokinetic energy source using mangrove inspired structures. This device could be incorporated in sensitive coastal areas (e.g. tidal streams, rivers) for energy harvesting while reducing environmental impact and mitigating coastal erosion. The technology has undergone preliminary testing to support proof of principle.