Wave and Tidal Power Generation

Wave and Tidal Power

With fossil fuels dwindling and the need for renewable resources increasing, people are on the lookout for cleaner renewable sources of energy that can be converted to electric power. That power could then be used to run homes, businesses, and even power plants. Overall, the effect would be to allow the world to continue to run the way it does, but in a more clean and efficient manner that would protect the Earth’s natural resources.

One type of energy that is being researched and experimented with more and more is tidal power. However, what are the pros of wave and tidal power and how can it be harnessed to produce electricity for homes, cities, and even huge power plants.

Why wave power isn't everywhere (yet)

What is Tidal Power

Tidal power is the theoretical use of the oceans’ natural tides as power sources that are then converted into electric power that can be used in homes. The tides go in and out every day and are found to be very powerful, but the big question is how to harness that power to be used. There are actually a couple of different theories out there on how to harness that energy.

The first theory is perhaps the most popular because it so closely relates to how hydropower is currently harvested from dams. That is converting the power of the horizontal movement of the water.

When dams are used to produce power with rivers, moving water that turns turbines creates the energy. They in turn spin and move a generator to create electricity. This is the idea behind trying to harvest the horizontal movement of the tides. There are, however, two big obstacles in going this route, which are speed and size.

Tidal Power Problems

How Waves Could Power A Clean Energy Future

For one, the water of the tides moves a lot more slowly than does the water in a river that has been dammed up. With water that is moving so slowly, it can be difficult to get any turbine or other energy capturing device to go fast enough to produce usable amounts of electricity. That means that another type of capture would have to happen.

The second problem is with the massive area. The energy of tides and tidal waves is great, but it is also spread out over the length of coastlines, and some of those are not even accessible. So, even if a huge pipeline was used to capture the tide, the amount of energy in it would be very little and also such a small percentage of what the tide was producing that it would be tremendously inefficient.

There are, though, new ideas constantly being designed for harnessing this massive amount of natural energy. One of the newest is to use the rise and fall of the water rather than the horizontal movement. The most popular of these methods is one in which water would be allowed to come into the plant during high tide. Then, as the tide goes down, the water would be captured. It could then be released slowly and put through turbines. The problems, though, are the effect on the tidal area of building such a facility as well as the ability to capture enough water to make it worth the cost.

No matter what, people will continue to come up with new ways to capture the untapped energy that is the tides of the world’s oceans. Should the right technology come along, though, wave and tidal power will undoubtedly be one of the best renewable energy resources.