Tidal energy

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  • Tidal power, also called tidal energy, is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into useful forms of power - mainly electricity. The world's first large-scale tidal power plant (the Rance Tidal Power Station) became operational in 1966.
  • Tidal power is extracted from the Earth's oceanic tides; tidal forces are periodic variations in gravitational attraction exerted by celestial bodies. These forces create corresponding motions or currents in the world's oceans.
  • Tidal power is the only technology that draws on energy inherent in the orbital characteristics of the Earth–Moon system, and to a lesser extent in the Earth–Sun system. Other natural energies exploited by human technology originate directly or indirectly with the Sun, including fossil fuel, conventional hydroelectric, wind, biofuel, wave and solar energy.
  • Tidal stream generators (or TSGs) make use of the kinetic energy of moving water to power turbines, in a similar way to wind turbines that use wind to power turbines.
  • Tidal barrages make use of the potential energy in the difference in height (or head) between high and low tides. Barrages are essentially dams across the full width of a tidal estuary.
  • Gravitational forces between the moon, the sun and the earth cause the rhythmic rising and lowering of ocean waters around the world that results in Tide Waves. The energy of the tide wave contains two components, namely, potential and kinetic.
  • A serious issue that must be addressed is how and where to use the electric power generated by extracting energy from the tides. Tides are cyclical by their nature, and the corresponding power output of a tidal power plant does not always coincide with the peak of human activity.
  • Tides play a very important role in the formation of global climate as well as the ecosystems for ocean habitants. At the same time, tides are a substantial potential source of clean renewable energy for future human generations.
  • Recent years shows the UK has 3.4MW of installed marine energy capacity (an almost 50% rise in the past year8) with a total of 7.4MW of prototypes in advanced stages of planning and fabrication for deployment, representing a potential 100% increase.
  • Marine energy is also a priority for development in the UK. The UK is a natural place from which to develop marine energy and we are lucky to have such a uniquely rich wave and tidal resource. The world’s first full-scale wave and tidal stream devices are British innovations.

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