Today, non-renewable resources account for a large portion of the energy we utilize. This ultimately means that these resources will eventually exhaust. Additionally, a large portion of this energy contributes significantly to global warming by releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
As a result, we require alternate energy sources. As a result, we should think about the tidal energy advantages and disadvantages as well as the expanding importance of turning the tides’ movement into clean energy.
In addition to fossil fuels, the world also offers us various sources of renewable energy that we can use. In addition to tidal energy, this can also include sources like wind and solar energy.
Traditional energy has disastrous environmental implications. We need reliable, long-term solutions as a result, and tidal energy production appears to be a promising option for meeting our future energy requirements.
Table of Contents
What is Tidal Energy?
Tidal energy is a type of renewable energy that converts energy from the ocean’s shifting tides and currents into usable electricity. Tidal barrages, tidal stream generators, and tidal gates are a few examples of the various technologies that can be used to harness tide power.
All of these many types of tidal energy plants employ tidal turbines, so it’s critical to understand how a turbine can harness the kinetic energy of the tide to generate energy.
Similar to how wind turbines harvest wind energy, tidal turbines harness tidal energy. The turbine’s blades are propelled by the flowing water as the tides and currents fluctuate. A generator is turned by the turbine, which then generates energy.
Tidal Energy Advantages and Disadvantages
Tidal power has advantages and disadvantages of its own, just like any other form of energy. Here are the key benefits and drawbacks of tidal energy
Advantages of Tidal Energy
- Zero Carbon Emissions
- High Predictability
- High Power Output
- Produces Energy at Slow Rates
- Durable Equipment
Tidal energy is a renewable energy source, meaning that it doesn’t run out as it is consumed. Therefore, by using the energy that the tides produce as they change, you don’t reduce their capacity to do so in the future.
We can continuously use this renewable energy source to provide the energy we require, whether we are employing stream generators, tidal streams, and barrages, tidal lagoons, or even dynamic tidal power.
The sun and moon’s gravitational pull, which governs the tides, won’t disappear any time soon. Tidal energy is a renewable source since it is constant, as opposed to fossil fuels, which will eventually run out.
2. Zero Carbon Emissions
Tidal power plants provide electricity without producing any greenhouse gases, making them a renewable energy source. Finding zero-emission energy sources is more crucial than ever because they are one of the main contributors to climate change.
3. High Predictability
Currents at the tide line are very predictable. Because low and high tides follow well-established cycles, it is simpler to predict when power will be generated throughout the day. As a result, we can design systems that effectively use these tides. Putting tidal energy systems where we will observe the best energy yields, as an example.
Since the strength of the tides and currents can be precisely predicted, it also makes it simple to know how much power will be generated by turbines. The system’s size and the installed capacity, however, are substantially different.
This is due to the tides’ consistency, which the wind occasionally lacks. Tidal energy plants can produce a sizable amount of electricity, although the technology operates differently as a result.
4. High Power Output
Power facilities that use tides can generate a lot of electricity. Water is over 800 times denser than air, which is one of the main causes of this. This means that compared to a wind turbine of equal size, a tidal turbine will generate significantly more energy.
Additionally, due to its density, water can power a turbine even at low rates. So even in less-than-perfect water conditions, tidal turbines can generate enormous amounts of electricity.
5. Produces Energy at Slow Rates
Since water has a higher density than air, the tide can still provide energy even when it is moving more slowly. In comparison to sources of energy like wind energy, this makes it quite effective. Additionally, there is a chance that a wind turbine won’t produce any energy at all on a day with no wind.
6. Durable Equipment
Tidal power facilities can survive a lot longer than solar or wind farms. In contrast, they can survive up to four times as long. Tidal barrages are concrete fortifications positioned along river estuaries.
The lifespan of these buildings can reach 100 years. La Rance in France is an excellent illustration of this. It began operations in 1966 and has remained in operation ever since, producing clean energy. Compared to solar and wind energy equipment, which typically lasts 20 to 25 years, this is a good thing.
Additionally, dependent on efficiency, the equipment may degrade and eventually become obsolete. So, in the long run, tidal power is a better alternative from a cost-effective standpoint.
Disadvantages of Tidal Energy
- Limited Installation Locations
- Maintenance and Corrosion
- Impacts on the Environment
- Energy Demand
1. Limited Installation Locations
The proposed installation site for a tidal power plant must satisfy several strict standards before construction can begin. They must be situated on a coastline, which restricts the states that are along the coast as prospective station locations.
A suitable site must also fulfill other criteria. For instance, locations, where the height difference between high and low tide is sufficient to drive turbines, must be chosen for tidal power stations.
This restricts the locations where the power plants can be built, making it challenging to apply tidal power generally. Energy is currently difficult and expensive to deliver over greater distances. This is because many fast tidal flows occur near shipping channels and, occasionally, too far from the grid.
This is yet another obstacle to the use of this energy source. There is nonetheless hope that technology will advance and tidal energy devices will be able to be installed offshore. On the other hand, unlike hydropower, tidal energy does not cause land to flood.
2. Maintenance and Corrosion
Machinery can rust due to the frequent movement of water and saltwater itself. The equipment of the tidal power plant, therefore, requires routine maintenance.
The systems may also be expensive since corrosion-resistant materials must be used in their design. Tidal energy generation requires equipment that can survive constant exposure to water, from the turbines to the cabling.
The goal is to make tidal energy systems as dependable and maintenance-free as feasible because they are expensive and challenging to operate. Even still, upkeep is still necessary, and working on anything that is submerged underwater is more difficult.
The high initial expenses of tidal power are one of its main disadvantages. Because water has a higher density than air, tidal energy turbines must be far more robust than wind turbines. Depending on the technology they employ, different tidal power-producing plants have different construction costs.
Tidal barrages, which are essentially low-walled dams, are the main building material of the majority of the tidal power plants that are currently in use. Due to the necessity to install a large concrete structure as well as turbines, building a tidal barrage is very expensive.
One of the main reasons tidal power has been sluggish to catch on is the cost barrier.
4. Impacts on the Environment
Tidal energy is not entirely environmentally beneficial, even though it is renewable. The ecosystem in the immediate area may be significantly impacted by the building of tidal energy-generating plants. Tidal turbines experience the same problem with marine life collisions as wind turbines do with birds.
Any marine species that tries to swim across turbine blades as they revolve poses a risk of catastrophic damage or death. Additionally, they endanger aquatic vegetation by altering the structure of the estuary through changes in silt deposition. Tidal turbines also produce low-level underwater noise that is detrimental to marine creatures like seals.
Even more damaging to the surrounding ecosystem are tidal barrages. They not only result in the same issues that turbines on their do, but they also have an impact that is comparable to that of dams. Tidal barrages disrupt fish migration and result in flooding that permanently alters the landscape.
5. Energy Demand
While tidal power does generate predictable amounts of electricity, it doesn’t do so continuously. While the exact timing of the tidal power plant’s electricity production is known, the supply and demand for energy may not coincide.
For instance, tidal electricity will be generated at about noon if high tide is at that time. The morning and evenings typically have the highest energy consumption, with the middle of the day having the lowest demand.
Therefore, despite producing all of this electricity, the tidal power plant won’t be required. To maximize the use of the energy it generates, tidal power would need to be coupled with battery storage.
Utilizing the energy generated by shifting tides and ocean currents, tidal power converts it into useful electricity. Tidal barrages, tidal stream generators, and tidal fences are just a few examples of the various technologies that can be used to harness tidal power.
The key benefits of tidal power are that it is dependable, carbon-free, renewable, and offers a large output of power.
The main drawbacks of tidal power include the fact that there are few locations for installation, it is expensive, the turbines might hurt the ecosystem, and the power output does not always meet peak energy demand.
Tidal energy has the potential to overtake other energy sources as tidal power technologies and energy storage advance.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.