THE USE OF TIDAL POWER AS
AN ELECTRIC POWER GENERATION TECHNOLOGY
The aim of this paper is to critically review the use of tidal power as an electric power generation technology. The paper will chiefly look at harnessing tidal energy as well as the operation and configuration of tidal power plants. Furthermore, it will also cover the environmental effects of tidal power plants and general economics involving tidal power.
The research and development for alternative energy sources have gone under water to tap for its energy. Tidal energy is one of the basic ways besides wave energy and ocean thermal energy. Tides caused primarily by the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon on the rotating earth resulting in the ocean’s water to bulge upwards. Every rise and fall stores a large amount of potential energy. The energy of the tides comes from the rotational energy of the earth.
A tidal power plant is an electrical plant which is sited in the water. The most suitable sites for tidal power generation should be situated in estuaries with a high tidal range. The tidal power technology functions by building a dam across a river estuary or coastal bay. This is so that the tide can be trapped in basins when it comes into the shore. Then when the tide drops, the water behind the basin can be let out just like in a regular hydroelectric power plant. The tidal flow stream drives turbines to generate electricity.
The utilization of tidal power is far from new; the technology has been in use for over a century in Britain and France. Due to exorbitant costs and a lack of optimal site conditions in desired locations, tidal power generation technology did not proliferate and today only a handful of examples around the world are operational. In future, advances in tidal power generation technology are thought to be possible; however, much research, development and site-specific study are required to achieve this end.