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Tidal Power

A Brief Description:

Harnessing the tides in a bay or estuary has been achieved in France (since 1966), Canada and Russia, and could be achieved in certain other areas where there is a large tidal range. The trapped water can be used to turn turbines as it is released through the tidal barrage in either direction. Worldwide tidal power technology appears to have little potential, largely due to environmental constraints. Another possible fault is that the tidal power system would generate electricity most efficiently if it were to generate electricity in bursts, every six hours (once every tide). Obviously, this limits the applications for which tidal energy can be used.

A relatively new technology development, tidal stream generators draw energy from underwater currents in much the same way that wind generators are powered by the wind. The much higher density of water means that there is the potential for a single generator to provide significant levels of power. Tidal stream technology is at the very early stages of development though and will require significantly more research before it becomes a significant contributor to electrical generation needs.

Several prototypes of tidal stream power have however shown some promise. For example, in the UK in 2003, a 300 kW Seaflow marine current propeller type turbine was tested off the north coast of Devon, and a 150 kW oscillating hydroplane device, the Stingray, was tested off the Scottish coast. Another British device, the Hydro Venturi, is to be tested in San Francisco Bay.

The Canadian company Blue Energy has plans for installing very large arrays tidal current devices mounted in what they call a 'tidal fence' in various locations around the world, based on a vertical axis turbine design.

31 Jan 2007 22:33:30

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