Potential for Developing Run-of-River Systems in Eastern Kentucky: A GIS Approach to Site Suitability.

Authors: Thomas Jeffords*,
Topics: Energy, Water Resources and Hydrology, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Hydro-power, Water Resources, Kentucky, Coal, GIS
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Coal has a questionable future due to changes in the economy and the potential of one day exhausting all coal resources. Alternate sources of energy production should be considered, such as hydropower dams. Hydropower dams in particular cause a lot of downstream environmental impacts from the reduced water flow, construction, and potential for flooding. A solution is a Run of River hydropower system which does not obstruct waterways, reducing the environmental impact. This study seeks to answer the question: What is the potential for run of river hydroelectric systems in Eastern Kentucky counties with significant decreases in coal production and employment? The hypothesis: There will be suitable sites within county level locations in Eastern Kentucky for Run of River Systems, as determined through GIS. An exclusive GIS approach is used to identify suitable locations within Eastern Kentucky in order to quickly assess multiple potential locations. Important data sources that aid this project are 10 meter digital elevation models, the USGS stream gauge network and StreamStats 4.0, the National Land Cover Database, the National Hydrography Data set, and population estimates through the census. Additionally, this study follows the lead of previously implemented and successful Run of River studies at various locations. The success of this study can provide justification towards investment in additional and more environmentally conscious forms of energy for Kentucky and its coal producers as coal employment and production rates continue to fluctuate.

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