The Pros and Cons of Tidal Energy

The Pros and Cons of Tidal Energy

We spend a lot (a lot) of time studying the different aspects of solar and wind power, the technology, politics, and money behind these things, but there are all different types of green energy resources in the world. They are generally less well known than solar and wind so they don’t get as much press time, but they could prove to be another great source of safe power. One of these is tidal energy power which doesn’t get as much press because frankly you can only reap the power near the ocean! But there are both pros and cons to this type of power and it’s worth looking into if you’re interested in green energy solutions.

Benefits of Tidal Energy

1. Tidal energy is predictable; it comes and goes with, well, the tide! Wind and solar both have the problem that they are far less predictable (in particular wind energy) which means that additional technology and innovations are required in order to make them feasible. Tidal energy doesn’t require as much effort in terms of storing power against droughts or making sure there aren’t any energy surges and droughts.
2. High Density Energy. Did you know that the energy density of tidal energy is higher than the more common forms of green energy like wind and solar? This means that the amount of energy that can be stored in the tides is higher than the wind and sun which means a greater output that can be put to use for us!
3. Affordable. Although the initial cost of set-up for tidal energy plants can be expensive, once it’s up and running, it’s a pretty affordable source of power. It’s cheaper than nuclear or coal energy and it requires no fuel to run.
4. Clean power. Obviously the fact that the energy from this system is renewable, carbon negative and clean is a big bonus!
5. Changes in technology is making the system even safer to use, particularly around fish and other sea life.

Problems with Tidal Energy

1. Tidal power may be affordable once it gets going, but the initial costs are high and the requirements for a space for the generator are very precise. The cost alone is comparable to huge hydroelectric dams and furthermore, many systems have to be built in narrow, high channels with a high tidal flow rate for a decreased environmental impact. The other main place to build these systems is in a large tidal basin.
2. Tidal power stations can impact marine life, particularly fish. Fish are disrupted by their movement and sometimes killed by the turbines. The system can also lead to an increase in silt where there ought not to be any. New technology is being done to lessen the impact, but it still exists.
3. Transmitting energy from the ocean front to far away places is expensive and time consuming.
4. Freak weather like storms and typhoons can devastate these tidal power stations.
5. Unfortunately, there is a lot less funding for tidal power than there is for solar or wind which means that much of the technology is still cumbersome, expensive and often just left in the prototype stages. This also causes problems actually erecting the systems which lead to their premature ends.

Every form of energy harnessing has its problems and tidal energy is particularly problematic because its fairly new and so many of the problems with it outweigh the benefits. But new methods to harness wave energy are on the horizon and if they pan out, we could start seeing more water sourced energy after all. Keep those waves rolling and we’ll keep you posted on more updates about tidal energy!

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