With most of earth’s energy resources fading away, it has become increasingly important to harness alternate forms of energy in order to prevent a power shutdown of sorts in the near future.And this is where tidal energy comes into the picture!
What is Tidal Energy? How is it generated?
Tidal energy generation follows the basic principle of generating energy from the tidal waves that occur during high and low tides. Tidal waves owe their existence to the moon and its gravitational power, and tend to rise (called ‘high tide’) or fall back (called ‘low tide’) twice every day. The rising and receding actions of these waves create huge movement of water which can be used to turn turbines and create large amounts of energy.
Tidal energy is usually generated at tidal dams and parks built near coastal areas. During high tide, water would flow in large quantities into the dam while during low tide, water would flow out of the dam in large quantities. The movement of a huge quantity of water in either directions causes inbuilt turbines in the dam to rotate and create energy.
Pros of Tidal Energy
Like any other form of energy, harnessing tidal energy has its own share of pros and cons, some of which are explained below.
For starters, the main source of tidal energy aka tidal waves is inexhaustible (over 70 percent of the earth’s surface is filled with water bodies) and very eco-friendly (no greenhouse gas emissions). Tidal energy can also be predictably harnessed depending on the rise and fall of tidal waves which usually follow a cyclic pattern.
Another major highlight of tidal energy is that it can run without fuel and has an energy density and output efficiency of nearly 80 percent, which is far more than the output gained from other energy sources like solar, wind or coal. And in addition to low maintenance costs, a tidal energy plant has a very long lifespan.
Over to the cons of tidal energy
For starters, a tidal plant is extremely costly to set up initially. Tidal plants can be located only on shores along the coastline and not inland. This limits their location to these regions alone. And transmission of the generated energy from the plant to inland areas can be very expensive and time consuming.
Another thing about the tidal energy plant is that it would generated energy only during high tide and low tide and remain idle the rest of the day. The total energy generated would also depend on the strength of the tides, and would be miniscule during weak tides.
A tidal energy plant also has risks of being damaged by sea swells or rough waves. The presence of a tidal power plant can also disrupt normal aquatic life in that region and cause fish to migrate to other areas.