Five Things You Don't Know YET About Tidal Energy
Mar 24, 2015
It's fitting that as this piece goes to press, parts of Europe are experiencing some of the historically highest tide coefficients ever recorded, reminding everyone of the terrific power that comes twice a day with each surge.
Tidal energy isn’t yet a major global renewable power source, but the industry is poised for significant global growth with the development of tidal lagoon and tidal stream array power generation projects. However, recent advances in technology such as the deployment of hydro technology combined with other advanced equipment such as GE’s large induction generators are helping tidal to become more reliable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Attracting financial investment into this exciting new industry is now key for tidal energy to reach its true potential. Here are five facts that you might not know about tidal energy:
1. The UK is a haven for tidal energy generation. According to Renewable UK, UK tidal resources are among the best in the world. In fact, the UK is currently testing around 10MW of wave and tidal stream devices – that’s more than the rest of the world combined. Also harnessing this potential is Swansea Bay, in Wales, UK. The site is set to become the world's first man-made energy-generating lagoon, powering over 155,000 homes (equivalent to 90% of Swansea Bay’s annual domestic electricity uses).
Image credit: Tidal Power Lagoon
2. The Bay of Fundy in Canada has the highest tidal ranges in the world, where the height difference between low and high tide water levels can reach 16.3 meters, taller than a three storey building, and therefore brimming with potential for tidal energy production.
3. Tidal energy is the oldest form of renewable energy. Using the power of the ocean to drive mills dates back to Roman times (around 787 A.D.). One of the earliest tide mills was located in London on the River Fleet (left). Since these early days, tidal energy has progressed. The world’s first tidal power station opened in France in 1966. La Rance Tidal Power Station is also one of the largest facilities, with a 240 MW output. (right)
4. Tidal stream turbines can be installed up to 240 feet below water level – that’s further than the length of a Boeing 747 airplane. Machinery has to be robust enough to cope with these pressures.
5. The IEA believes tidal energy could start playing a significant part in the global energy mix by 2030. Tidal energy may produce up to 748 GW of power by 2050, according to Ocean Energy Systems. Although, compared to solar, the predictions are conservative. (Solar power could hit 4,600 GW by 2050).