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What is tidal energy?

What is tidal energy?Did you know?

  • Tidal energy is one of the oldest forms of energy. Tide mills, used on the Spanish, French and British coasts, date back to 787 A.D
  • The first tidal power station was the Rance tidal power plant, completed in France during 1966.
  • Tides are created by the moon and sun, in combination with Earth's rotation.

What's it all about?

Tidal power is a form of electricity generation where we convert the energy from the tides into useful power. The sea levels rise and fall twice daily, caused by the gravitational pull of the moon.

People have been harnessing tidal power for years. In the past tide mills were used to mill grain. Tide mills are special types of water mills, which use the rise and fall of the tides to drive a waterwheel.

However, harnessing this energy to convert it into electrical power is not as easy turning a waterwheel.

Advantages of tidal energy

  • Once you have installed the technology, tidal power is free
  • No waste or pollution is produced
  • No fuel is required
  • Not expensive to maintain
  • The amount of electricity and the time when it is produced is very predictable

Disadvantages of tidal energy

  • There are few suitable places for either tidal energy schemes
  • Tidal energy schemes are very expensive to set up and install in comparison to other renewable energy types
  • Damming bays or inlets can affect the environment or natural habitat over a very wide area
  • Barrage systems will only provide energy for about 10 hours a day, when the tide is moving in and out
  • Tidal stream generator technology is still at an early stage in its development

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