Following the line of previous posts in this one I write about another way of taking advantage of tidal power, by the method of Tidal Stream Generator.
First, we have to consider that the motion of a sea tide causes fast flowing volumes of water: Tidal streams. These can be used to obtain electric energy, with a similar technology to wind energy, taking into account that the sea water is slower and 800 times denser than air. So, it is possible to install underwater turbines to take advantage of tidal energy, by the system of Tidal Stream Generators, which converted the kinetic energy of the big masses of water in movement into electricity, as it is explained in this article.
There are different types of harness Tidal Streams, but the most powerful station that uses Tidal Stream Generators is SeaGen, in Nothern Ireland. This plant generates 1,2 MW for between 18 and 20 hours a day, enough to satisfy the demand of 1000 homes, thanks to a tower with two turbines. It has also got a system that makes the turbines work in both flow directions. The generator can go up for maintenance, too. The image below shows how it works.
This clean, renewable and predictable energy has got the positive points of Tidal barrages, but it’s also cheaper. The technology is similar to wind turbines and the affect to marine ecosystems and the visual impact are lower.
So, why a Saudi Arabia in Europe?
Saudi Arabia, as it is well known, is an Asian country which is the main exporter of oil in the world. However, there is a place in Europe that is also called Saudi Arabia, and not because it’s oil, but for its strong sea currents, with a speed of 30 km/h. This place is An Caol Arcach, also known in English as Pentland Firth, the strait that separates Orkney Islands from Scotland, in the island of Great Britain. According with this article, a tidal power station placed there can be capable of accommodating 10 GW of installed generating capacity.
In principle, a tidal energy company, Marine Current Turbines Ltd, has the intention to start working in Pentland Firth. The company wants to install 50MW of generating capacity by 2015, using SeaGen technology. If the local grid can take it, they have projects too for install up to 300MW or more by 2020.
So we can see that in Europe there are great possibilities to make use of sea power. In this post we have seen a way of develop this vast field, but there are indeed uncountable ways. Will, effort and investigation are vital if we want to have in our future a clean and reliable energy system. Now we just have to go for it.