Small Hydroelectric and Ocean Energy
Hydroelectricity refers to the capture of energy from flowing water, typically rivers and streams, to generate electricity. California currently generates a significant amount of electricity from large hydroelectric facilities, however, only small hydro, or hydroelectric facilities having a capacity of 30 MW or less that do not require new diversions or allotments are considered renewable. There is significant potential for expansion at existing dams without current generation capability, where impacts to development may be less severe. There is also significant potential for energy generation in fabricated conduits such as irrigation canals, municipal water systems and industrial wastewater systems. The latter of which have the advantages of almost always being near load.
Another potential source of electricity energy is the ocean. The ocean covers over 70% of the Earth's surface, and provides a vast, clean, and historically untapped energy resource which can be harvested through a variety of mechanisms such as waves, currents, thermal gradients, and offshore wind. Most ocean energy technologies are still in their early development stages and will eventually require additional demonstration in California's environment in order for the economic and environmental costs and benefits to be fully understood. Ocean energy research at the Energy Commission aims to identify and address research gaps that, once filled, may enable utility-scale deployment of offshore wind and wave energy technologies within California.