The energy of the tides which is transformed into useful electricity and other power sources is known as tidal energy or tidal power. The term tide means rise and fall of ocean and sea level due to gravitational strength from moon and rotation of earth. This is a renewable energy source which is under development and not many people know about it. Tidal energy or Tidal power is more efficient and reliable way of generating electricity as compared to wind mills and solar energy systems.
How Tidal Power or Tidal Energy Works, Electricity Generation from Tidal Waves
Tidal waves are a way different process to generate electricity from the movement of moon and its effect on ocean level. The energy is generated by the movement of water when the tides are produced in the ocean by the gravitational movement of moon and sun. The magnitude of tide is dependent on the movement and change in the position of sun and the moon. The tidal force is infinite as long as the sun and the moon survive. The energy of tidal waves can be converted to electricity by making dams and barrages. The energy from the tidal wave is stored by installing a tidal generator. The greater the velocity of the tide, greater would be the electricity generation. There are three broad categories & types of tidal power.
The tidal stream system uses the kinetic energy generated by the tides and carries it to power turbines which result in electricity generation.
The Tidal barrages are designed to utilize the potential energy created due to the difference in the level (height) of the tidal waves.
Fig: How Tidal Barrage works
Tidal lagoons are a kin to barrages except for their ability to produce power in constant flow.
Fig: How Tidal Lagoon Works
Tidal power plants are also an environment friendly way of generating electricity. Minor climate changes are predicted by using the tidal energy of the earth over the period of centuries.
How Tidal Power Works, How Tidal Power Plant Works
A tidal range of about 7mm is required for the economical and smooth operations of electricity generators. The tidal power plant constitutes of a barrage along an estuary in order to block the incoming and outgoing tide. The areas like pacific northwestern region are an ideal location to deploy power generators. The reason is the steady fluctuation of tides up to 12 feet in a day. The coast of Alaska and Washington are considered to have exceptional tidal pressure. The biggest tidal power generator is situated at La Rance River in northern coasts of France. This project produces about 240 MW of electricity. This station was built in 1996. More and more studies re conducted to analyze the potential of rivers and oceans in different parts of the world. Tidal power plants are an expensive way of generating electricity but this is highly efficient.
Advantages & Uses of Tidal Energy
Tidal energy is a renewable energy source and it does not release any acids, harmful fluids and gases while generating electricity. Tidal energy is also a reasonable substitute for nuclear energy. Hence it can also protect us from harmful radiations of nuclear. Change in tidal flow by deploying barrages is however tend to affect the shoreline and related eco system. However scientist says that the impact of these tidal waves is different in different regions. The change in the local tides near LA Rance is negligible but near Fundy Bay it is more which can reduce the tidal wave to about 15 cm. tidal power generators can be also helpful in increasing the efficiency of traditional power grids. This tidal power can be used to replace conventional power projects which release greenhouse gases and dangerous acids. The emission of the dangerous gases tends to quickly affect the environment as compared to the tidal waves. The climate changes caused by the tidal waves require centuries to slow the process of local tides.