Between 1960 and 1966, in La Rance, France, world’s first tidal power station “Rance tidal power plant” was built and operated with high costs and low efficiency. Recent innovations in turbine technology may help it become a good choice around the world.
The mechanism of a wave and tidal power plant is a “water version” wind turbine – by installing tidal turbines on a seabed or riverbed, the underwater current can drive the turbine blades and generate electricity. Due to water’s high density, the underwater turbines can produce the same amount of power by a slower rotation speed. Moreover, the underwater current, especially the tides and the ocean currents, are more stable and more predicable than wind, meaning that it is possible to calculate the power given by water.
|A tidal energy turbine. (Photo Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images/Ideas Lab)|
Ideas Lab, a GE-supported website that focuses on innovation and trendy ideas, conveys in an featured article that tidal energy generation is a highly potential power in the U.S.A. The U.S. Energy Department’s latest assessment identified up to 1,400 terawatt hours of tidal power every year, an amount that can be translated into the power consumption of 119 million homes. Henceforth, the U.S. is starting to develop 17 tidal and wave energy demonstration projects, investing US $16 million.
“Wave and tidal energy represent a large, untapped resource for the United States and responsible development of this clean, renewable energy source is an important part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson in a statement last year.
There are several types of tidal energy technologies such as barrages or dams, tidal fences and tidal turbines. All these technologies use water current to push turbines or turnstiles and create power while they have different ideal locations to be installed. This also means that tidal and wave power can be applicable to more places instead of certain waters.
Aside from America, the UK is another nation that is aggressive to develop tidal and wave power because a strong ocean current goes through its western coast and lots of locations have significant tidal head ranges. GE Power Conversion also pays attention to the testing of an array tidal turbine system planned for Scotland’s Pentland Firth, where a group of engineers from Edinburgh and Oxford universities believe to be able to generate enough power for all Scotland’s electrical needs.
It’s a renewable age. As we are trying to be powered by the sun, the earth and the wind, it’s also possible for us to ask for help from water and the moon.