Governments seeking to accelerate the renewable energy revolution are beginning to discuss the long overlooked potential of tidal power. In response to oil and gas shortages, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, countries around the world have been looking for ways to increase supply, as well as trying to ensure long-term energy security. . A seldom-discussed potential opportunity is tidal power, which harnesses the power of the ocean to generate electricity. In the UK, several tidal projects are underway in various parts of the country. The $39 million Morlais project on an island off Wales is funded by the European Union. The turbines are expected to be installed over 13 square miles, making the area one of the largest tidal power sites in the world. The project has attracted such large investments because it offers a more reliable alternative to solar and wind power thanks to the predictability of the tide.
As the UK rapidly moves away from coal, energy companies are looking for renewable alternatives to fill the void. Morlais will use the kinetic energy of the tide to generate electricity for more than 180,000 homes. However, this is small compared to other proposals such as the plan for an $8.8 billion project to power around one million homes.
Earlier this year, councilors supported a proposal to build a 30 km long dyke and the installation of several turbines to generate tidal power in Denbighshire, Wales. But now North Wales Tidal Energy will have to appeal to the UK government for support for such a massive project.
However, several tidal projects have been rejected by the government in recent years. Roger Falconer, Emeritus Professor of Water and Environmental Engineering at Cardiff University Explain “The problem with lagoons and tidal dams is that you don’t get electricity until they’re pretty much finished, and that can take years.”
These types of projects just weren’t attractive before. But now, several political powers around the world are realizing the growing importance of energy security, particularly in response to recent oil and gas shortages, which could mean new opportunities for long-neglected energy sources such as than tidal power.
At present, ‘the UK is a world leader in tidal power, as nearly 50% of the world’s installed tidal current capacity is in UK waters,’ a gatekeeper said. -speaker of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This is because the west coast of the UK has one of the highest tides global.
Meanwhile, in Canada, energy companies suggest that new tidal technologies could be significantly better than solar developments because of their efficiency and reliability. Montreal-based energy company Idenergie is launching a new type of tidal turbine that it says won’t disturb marine life in the region and can provide continuous power throughout the day and night. The company believes that a turbine can provide the same energy as 12 solar panels. In addition, the turbine can be easily transported in several parts and built on site. Idenergie claims to be able to supply up to 12 kWh of electricity per day and connect to a battery network.
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On a larger scale, Canada is preparing to launch a major tidal energy project in Nova Scotia, which will connect via a 1 km submarine cable to the grid system. Jason Hayman, CEO of Sustainable Marine, explains of the project: “These waters are a huge, untapped source of fully renewable and predictable energy that is powered by the moon as it orbits our planet. The Bay of Fundy’s unique geometry transforms this gravitational force into vast tidal currents that flow at speeds of up to 10 knots. It took many years of testing, development and demonstration to refine the technology and understand how best to capture and convert tidal energy. But now is the time. Sustainable Marine’s next-generation platform is grid-connected and ready to energize.
And for islands, tidal power has huge potential, with experts suggesting that places like the Faroe Islands, an archipelago off Denmark, could get 40% of their power from tidal developments. Tidal energy company Minesto recently announced plans for four sites, which could reach a total capacity of 120 MW of tidal energy, or about 350 GWh per year.
CEO of Minesto Martin Edlund mentioned“As we are at the forefront of creating a completely new industry, where we intend to add predictable tidal power to the global energy mix, we are delighted to support the Faroe Islands in their exploratory and ambitious journey towards a balanced energy system.” Although the small island requires far less energy than most countries, the project could demonstrate how other places can harness the power of the ocean to provide clean energy and reliable.
Governments are often reluctant to consider tidal projects due to lack of understanding of the energy source. Huge investments must be made in research and on-site testing to fully understand the potential of tidal energy. But as world powers realize the need for longer-term renewable alternatives to oil and gas and become more willing to consider innovative energy sources, there is enormous potential for tidal power and several other very neglected.
By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com
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