2. Types of Hydrokinetic Projects

This chapter reviews general classes of river and ocean hydrokinetic projects and provides links to the DOE database and the FERC eLibrary for more information about specific projects.  The use of specific projects as illustrations does not imply the project is more likely to be developed or that its impacts apply to other technologies (illustrative examples were provided by DOE for each type). 

Over a hundred conceptual designs of hydrokinetic devices have been developed worldwide, but only a few have been built and tested at full-scale (and most of those have been in Europe).  The following broad categories are intended to be general and to illustrate hydrokinetic technologies.  DOE (2009a) has developed an extensive device database and categorized different types by technology or other attributes. 

More detailed descriptions and taxonomies of potential devices are also available:


For this document, we have summarized broad categories of wave and current technologies (see outline below) and provided examples (see tables that follow) to provide a sense of their size, generating capacity, working principles, where they may be deployed in the water column, or their distance from shore.  We have also provided links to example projects or other background material, with example photos for each type of device. (Note: We have tried to provide examples from the United States, but when those don’t exist, we use examples or photos from other countries).