REAP Forum: Hydrokinetic potential in Alaska 

Hydrokinetic turbine in Ruby

Hydrokinetic turbine in Ruby

Everyone knows about wind turbines. But what about installing turbines underwater in Alaska rivers to make power? Last summer, UAA civil engineering professor Tom Ravens and his students looked at 17 potential sites for turbines on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. They measured velocity and water depth and, based on the data,  are developing hydrologic and hydraulic models to estimate the energy potential of these sites. Come hear him discuss the preliminary results and learn more about Alaska’s hydrokinetic energy potential at REAP’s monthly forum from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Anchorage museum.

A demonstration project in Ruby on the Yukon River has already shown that hydrokinetic turbines can be placed in the river and electricity  generated. The work done by Ravens and his students will be made available to the public and could encourage energy developers and villagers to seriously consider hydrokinetic energy as a renewable energy source. Hydrokinetic power could be particular useful for residents of rural Alaska, who face some of the highest electricity rates in the United States and, in many cases, live next to large, fast flowing rivers.

Dr. Tom Ravens joined the UAA faculty in the School of Engineering in 2007. Previously, Dr. Ravens was a professor at Texas A&M University at Galveston. His interests in renewable energy include renewable energy assessment, environmental impact of renewable energy systems, and system design and testing. In addition to the Alaska Energy Authority-funded hydrokinetic assessment study that will be the subject of this presentation, Ravens is also working on a Department of Energy- funded project to assess hydrokinetic energy for the U.S. In the area of environmental impacts, he is examining the impact on hydrokinetics on flow, water level, and sediment transport in Cook Inlet. Besides his renewable energy work, Ravens is engaged in coastal processes and coastal erosion research. Projects include: Impact of climate change and storm surges on Y-K delta sedimentary processes; Sediment transport and flow in the Sag River Delta and the impact of the causeway; and Predictive and process-based coastal erosion modeling for the North Slope of Alaska.

For more information, call 929-7770 or email

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