Multi-criteria assessment of wave and tidal power along the Atlantic coast of the southeastern USA
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The increasing demand for energy and the increased depletion rate of nonrenewable energy resources call for research on renewable alternatives. Mapping the availability of these resources is an important step for development of energy conversion projects. For this purpose, the wave power potential along the Atlantic coast of the southeastern USA, and the tidal stream power along the coast of Georgia are investigated in this study. Wave power potential is studied in an area bounded by latitudes 27 N and 38 N and longitudes 82 W and 72 W (i.e. North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida). The available data from National Data Buoy Center wave stations in the given area are examined. Power calculated from hourly significant wave heights and average wave periods is compared to power calculated using spectral wave energy density. The mean power within 50 km of the shore is determined to be low, whereas higher power is available further offshore beyond the 3500 m contour line. The tidal stream power potential along the coast of the state of Georgia is evaluated based on the NOAA tidal predictions for maximum tidal currents and three dimensional numerical modeling of the currents with Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS). The modeling results are validated against the available measurements. This region has low to moderate average tidal currents along most of the coast, but with the possibility of very strong local currents within its complex network of tidal rivers and inlets between barrier islands. Tidal stream power extraction is simulated with a momentum sink in the numerical models at the estuary scale to investigate effect of power extraction on the estuarine hydrodynamics. It is found that different power extraction schemes might have counterintuitive effects on the estuarial hydrodynamics and the extraction efficiency. A multi-criteria method that accounts for the physical, environmental and socioeconomic constraints for tidal power conversion schemes is proposed to select favorable locations and to rank them according to their suitability. For this purpose, the model results are incorporated into a Geographical Information System (GIS) database together with other geospatial datasets relevant to the site selection methodology. The methodology is applied to the Georgia coast and the candidate areas with potential are marked.