Tidal energy is almost unknown but promises a lot

To stop climate change and pollution, we must think about using clean and sustainable energy. The energy transition must be carried out quickly, although with the greatest of care. To wind and solar energy, we can add another clean energy, tidal energy, which is generated on the coasts through the tides.

Seawater energy
Tidal power plants look almost like an airplane: here is a graphic illustration of the O2 turbine – Image from dw.com
Advantages and disadvantages of tidal energy

One of the biggest drawbacks of wind and solar plants is that they do not generate electricity at any time. They only do it when the climate determines it, that is, man does not decide when more or less energy can be generated. It is the advantage that coal-fired plants still have. There its operation can be increased or reduced depending on consumption or demand.

Although the situation of tidal power plants is different. The calculation of the amount of energy it will supply can be made years in advance, since it depends on the ebb and flow of the tide. However, it is a technology that can only be accessed by countries that have a maritime coastline. Another disadvantage is that it is a much more expensive technology than wind, although it promises to be a very good alternative for the energy transition.

The United Kingdom is a pioneer in implementing new technology

The United Kingdom is already installing these plants with new technology. The new tidal power plants are technologically different from those already existing in France or Canada.

These “old” plants consist of filling a pond in the form of a dam. The water is then released through the turbines in a controlled manner. Although they generate clean energy, the same does not happen with ecosystems, which are irreparably damaged.

On the other hand, tidal power plants, being anchored only at various points, generate a much smaller impact on ecosystems.

As mentioned, the United Kingdom was one of the pioneers in connecting these plants to its electrical grid. It currently has more than 50% of the plants installed worldwide. Most of these new plants are located in Scotland.

The Scottish company Orbital Marine Power is responsible for installing the first tidal power plant in the Orkney Islands in 2021. The United Kingdom is a very favorable territory for the installation of these plants, since the tides there have fast currents.

Tidal energy in the UK

Characteristics of a tidal power plant

The plants look like an airplane fuselage and are called O2. This fuselage is 74 meters long and floats on the surface. The wings contain the large propellers that remain underwater during the rising tide. The rotors, which are about 20 meters in diameter, rotate like those of wind generators.

The company has projects for the future. Among them the installation of plants in Wales and the English Channel. Tidal energy is a young and very promising energy source.

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