Just want you to take a good look at the photo. But don’t get too excited. Can you see the artificial breakwater that was built in the Zurriola beach in Donostia nearly two decades ago? Can you imagine it creating energy?
Well some Dutch engineers have come up with an idea: let’s build a long dam into the sea, make it form a T shape, and produce energy. This dam wouldn’t enclose an area, and it would benefit from the tide movement.
We all think about tides making the sea level go up and down, but in some places on earth, the tides run parallel to the coastline. Some countries such as China, Korea and the UK would be able to benefit from this, yet theoretical, energy conversion system.
One of the cons of this project is that it can’t be tested, or to be more precise, proper results would not be obtained. It is calculated that the generation capacity increases with the square of the distance of the dam. To make some simple numbers, comparing a 30 km dam with the one of the Zurriola (about 300m), the long one would produce ten thousand times more energy. So as you can see, it wouldn’t be useful to test it. That means investing millions of euros in a project that only works on paper…
But there are also more inconvenients. What would happen to shipping routes? How handle all the sediments that form around it? Remember that since the waterbreak was put in place in the Zurriola, the sand doen’t go away, making it a nice beach to hang out in. But this accumulation of mud, sand and other dirt in a generator like this can cause problems.
But not all of it is negative, because a single dam would be able to generate over 1GW. Bear in mind, that as Mikel mentioned in his last post, an operating undersea tidal stream generator has a capacity of 1,2MW, so we would be talking about eight hundred times more energy. What’s more, when we analyzed early on in our blog sea buoys, a single buoy was able to generate 150kW, nothing compared to what is estimated that this new technology could achieve.
So, even though it only exists on paper, it’s interesting to keep it in mind, because in a mid-long term it can become a viable project.