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AHERC Research

The goal of AHERC’s research is to provide information, methods, and technology to advance and accelerate the hydrokinetic industry and determine its applicability in Alaska.  We focus on the responsible development, acceptance, and deployment of hydrokinetic devices. Our goals are guided by input from industry, state and federal agencies, and community stakeholders. For more on our research see the AHERC strategic plan as well as our research agenda.  

AHERC Research Areas

1. River hydrokinetic characterization and analysis:  Determining the key characteristics of specific river, tidal and wave hydrokinetic resources that may impact installation and operation of hydrokinetic devices. This includes current dynamics, debris, ice, river or ocean bed conditions, wave conditions, sediment transport, fish and marine mammal populations.

Completed Projects:

Current Projects:

2. Wildlife Interactions:  Understanding fisheries and marine mammal populations and their interaction with turbines. This is a key issue for permitting as well as cultural acceptance of this technology by community and stakeholders.

Completed Projects: 

3.  Optimal Site Identification:  Identification of favorable hydrokinetic locations, taking into account economics, available power, environmental factors and community support.

Current Project:

4. Workforce Development and Education: AHERC works with the State of Alaska, utilities, developers, and other stakeholders to educate students in fields relevant to hydrokinetic development in Alaska.

Current Projects:

For more information on past AHERC research please visit our Publications Page. For information on AHERC’s accomplishments and goals, visit our prior strategic plan, and milestones.

Future Research Areas

1. Turbine installation effects on the river, including currents, debris, ice, sediment, turbine and anchor performance, river or ocean bed modification, etc.

2. Deployment of hydrokinetic technology in rural areas, including turbine array placement & optimization, minimization of adverse fish/marine mammal interactions, debris mitigation, anchoring systems, ice effects and sediment impacts.

3. Socio-economic impacts of developing hydrokinetic power systems both separately and in combination with other power generation systems such as hydrokinetic/diesel hybrid systems.

River Debris

Floating and submerged woody debris pose a significant hazard to the operation of hydrokinetic power generating devices that must be overcome before hydrokinetic power can become a viable source of energy in Alaska's rivers. In an effort to develop technologies to mitigate the effects of floating debris on hydrokinetic device operations, AHERC is conducting a detailed river debris characterization and mitigation study at the Tanana River Test Site (TRTS) located at Nenana, Alaska.

Research Agenda

AHERC’s research agenda is focused on information needed to accelerate development, acceptance, and deployment of hydrokinetic devices.    AHERC research goals will be guided by input from industry, state and federal agencies, and community stakeholders to facilitate hydrokinetic power development in Alaska.