Tides are converted into electricity or other forms of energy through the harnessing of hydropower. The energy created in called tidal energy. Tides are created by the gravitational pull of the sun and moon upon the earth. The advantages and disadvantages of tidal energy are similar to other renewable energy sources.
To produce tidal energy, large turbines are placed underwater in areas where high tidal activity is present. The construction and placement of these turbines takes a specialized construction crew as well as a large amount of start-up capital. Once the energy is produced through the turbines, it is transferred in the form of electricity to a power plant and then farmed out.
Tidal Energy Pros and Cons
There are many advantages and disadvantages of tidal energy and some of the major ones are listed below.
Advantages of Tidal Energy
- Tidal power is a renewable energy source and cannot be depleted. As long as the moon and sun exist, tidal energy is available.
- It is very efficient. Tidal energy is one of the most efficient energy sources available. The efficiency is about 80% which is much better than other renewable energy sources.
- Tides are always predictable. The predictability of the tides is more reassuring than depending upon weather patterns for wind or sun.
- There are no greenhouse gases produced with tidal energy therefore, harnessing this type of energy is very good for the environment.
- Should tidal power be harnessed on a large scale, it could lower the necessity to import foreign fuels. Expensive foreign fuels would not need to be imported in such large quantities to support the demand for energy sources.
Disadvantages of Tidal Energy
- Building tidal power plants takes a large amount of money upfront. It is therefore not cost competitive on the global energy market.
- Energy can only be created during tidal surges, which is about 10 hours per day. For tidal power to be efficient throughout the entire day a energy storage system needs to be created and implemented.
- The construction of the power plant can cause disruption within the ocean in terms of fish migration. Once the power plants are functional, the frames of the turbines could possibly disrupt the movement of large marine animals.
- There are only a few prototypes and there is limited real life tidal energy sources in operation. It is still a relatively new energy source and is still being studied. There is not enough data connected to tidal energy to ensure that the reliability and cost efficiency is truly what it seems to be.
- The collection of tidal power is limited to coastal regions. Inland areas do not have access to tidal power. There are no collection or storage systems that will allow the energy to be transported inland.