Fresh thinking in electricity and gas is certainly relevant to today’s environmentally conscious society. Incorporating natural production can mitigate costs and provide ways to sustain resources. With the rise of renewable energy, tidal power has proven its potential in being a renewable energy source for our future communities.
As a relatively new approach to sustainable energy, tidal power has sparked interest in the energy industry with several power plants already in operation around the globe. The largest plant is Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station in South Korea. It creates about 552.7 GWh annually and has ten water turbines.
But new technology often comes with growing pains that have fueled debate over tidal power’s operations, costs, and potential. So what is tidal power, and what kinds of tidal power advantages and disadvantages are being debated out there?
What Is Tidal Power?
When you think of tidal power, the first thing that you probably think of is tides, and that’s spot on! Tidal power, or tidal energy, is energy that comes from the moon and the sun’s gravitational influence on the ocean. The low and high tides from coastal areas can create currents strong enough to drive turbines. These turbines create useful forms of energy that produce electricity.
Tidal Power Advantages and Disadvantages
Tidal energy can power homes and meet the power requirements of cities that will help create sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. But as much as they provide a more environmentally alternative, tidal power carries some disadvantages as well. And it’s important to understand both the pros and cons.
Pros of Tidal Power
- It’s renewable and reliable. As mentioned earlier, gravity from the moon and the sun creates natural tide movements that cause energy. So as long as Earth rotates and the moon orbits, the ocean will create motion. This makes tidal power more reliable than wind or solar power, where unpredictable weather can easily halt the production of natural energy.
- It’s environmentally friendly. Not only is tidal power renewable, it does not emit any gases nor do its facilities take up a lot of space. For example, the Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station was built along a 12.5 km long seawall. One of the largest solar farms, Tengger Desert Solar Park, in China, covers about 43 square kilometers of land.
- A predictable energy source. Because tidal patterns are consistent and well understood, they are easily trackable, which provides the opportunity to plan long term. It’s also an attractive resource for electrical grid management, as there wouldn’t be a need for any back-up plants.
- Maintains efficiency. Water carries a much higher density than air, so very little energy gets wasted. Moreover, electricity is easier to produce with high density, so you are able to produce a lot of energy with minimal movement and speed.
- Easy and flexible maintenance. Tidal power entails low maintenance, as the technology involved in tidal power is minimal. Low maintenance also means cheap operation fees!
Cons of Tidal Power
- Specific site requirements. The acquisition of tidal energy along with the amount of it being generated from the power plants has been slow due to the specific site requirements to produce electricity. Moreover, tidal power plants are confined to limited installation points–along with coastal areas. As there are only so many prime coastal points for tidal energy sites available in the U.S., the question of how impactful this operation can be is definitely something to think about.
- Lack of supply for the demand. Tide cycles don’t always match daily consumption patterns of electricity, so it’s difficult to meet electricity demands.
- Installation costs. As the tidal power is rather new, the technology required is expensive. Moreover, it’s difficult for investors to make a profit from it.
- Environmental risks. It’s hard to predict the future. As tidal energy technology is still evolving, we must be cautious of how the emergence of more facilities will impact marine life. And who knows, there might be several other environmental risks that will rise up.
- Corrosion. High salinity is required in the waters where tidal energy facilities are built. Salt is known to cause corrosion, so additional maintenance work and fees must be considered in order to avoid harmful elements going into our oceans.
Carving New Possibilities
So is tidal power the way to go? The answer to that is rather complicated, as there are several interesting matters in the tidal power pros and cons debate. But what we do know is that those key factors show promise in providing solutions to the current issues that exist in renewable energy operations–we just have to be conscientious of the ways that this new technology will affect our environment. It’s certainly something to keep our eyes on.
Contact Kiwi Energy today to learn more about environmentally conscious options for energy. Providing quality and efficient customer service, our team strives to reduce carbon footprint to build a sustainable future for yourself and those around you.