Interest in the advancement of hydrokinetic energy conversion (HEC) technology has grown substantially in recent years. The hydrokinetic industry has advanced beyond the initial testing phase and will soon install demonstration projects with arrays of full-scale devices. By reviewing the current state of the industry and the cutting edge research this paper identifies the key advancements required for HEC technology to become commercially successful at the utility scale. The primary hurdles are: (i) reducing the cost of energy, (ii) optimizing individual turbines to work in concert considering array and bathymetry effects, (iii) balancing energy extraction with environmental impact, and (iv) addressing socioeconomic concerns.
This review is split into three primary sections. The first section provides an overview of the HEC technology systems that are most likely to be installed in commercial arrays. The second section is an in-depth literature review. The literature review is sub-divided into five areas that are positioned to significantly impact the viability of HEC technology: (i) site assessment, (ii) turbine design, (iii) turbine wake modeling, (iv) array performance, and (v) environmental impact. The final section presents an outlook for the HEC industry and future research.