Tidal Wave Energy
Tidal Wave Energy is still a very niche technology with tidal barrages generating most of the electricity in a few power stations. Most of the tidal power plants using the modern tidal turbine technology are still in the pilot phase and generate negligible power. Tidal Energy has many advantages and disadvantages with the cons of massive investments and long gestation time winning over the many pros of Tidal Power.
Note Tidal Energy is a favorite for scientists and has been for a long time due to the almost limitless potential. Like Geothermal Energy, however Tidal Energy is stuck in a low growth phase and faces a real possibility that it may not be anything but an esoteric source of Energy. Tidal Energy shares many of the same problems as Geothermal Energy does despite Geothermal Energy having a much longer history. Both of these Renewable Sources of Energy lack Big Companies and the sexiness of Solar or Wind Power. Here are is the list of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Tidal Energy.
Tidal Power Pros
- Renewable, non-Polluting and Carbon Negative - Tidal Energy is completely renewable, does not lead to any pollution of the air and does not lead to any carbon emissions like Fossil Fuels.
- Predictable - Tidal Wave Energy is very predictable as the Tides rise with great uniformity. Other forms of Renewable Energy like Solar and Wind Energy are intermittent in nature. The electricity supply is much more uniform and reliable in case of Tidal Power.
- No Fuel - Tidal Power needs Water for Generation of Electricity in its catchment area. It does not need fuel like Thermal, Gas or Oil Powered Power Stations.
- Low Costs – Once a Tidal Energy Power Plant starts running, its costs are extremely low. The biggest Power Plant in France run by EDF works at 1.5c/Kwh which is lower than either nuclear or coal energy which are the cheapest forms of power.
- Long Life - A Tidal Barrage has a very long life of around 100 years which is much longer than that of even Nuclear Power Plants. The long life implies that the life cycle cost of a Tidal Energy Power Plant becomes very low in the long term.
- High Energy Density - The Energy Density of Tidal Energy is much higher than that of other forms of Renewable Energy like Wind Power.
- High Load Factor - The Load Factor for Solar and Wind Energy ranges from 15-40% which is quite low compared to Fossil Fuel Energy. Tidal Energy has a load factor of almost 80% which is equal to that of Thermal Power.
Tidal Power Cons
- High Initial Capital Investment - Tidal Barrages require massive investment to construct a Barrage or Dam across a river estuary. This is comparable to construction of a massive dam for Hydro Power. This is perhaps the biggest disadvantage of this technology.
- Limited Locations – The US DOE estimates that there are only about 40 locations in the world capable of supporting Tidal Barrages. This is because this Tidal Energy Technology requires sizable Tides for the Power Plant to be built. The limited number of locations is a big hurdle.
- Effect on Marine Life - The operation of commercial Tidal Power Stations has known to moderately affect the marine life around the Power Plant. It leads to disruption in movement and growth of fishes and other marine life. Can also lead to increase in silt. Turbines can also kill fish passing through it.
- Immature Technology – Except for Tidal Barrage, the other forms of Technology generating Tidal or Wave Power are quite immature, costly and unproven.
- Long Gestation Time – The cost and time overruns can be huge for Tidal Power Plants leading to their cancellation just like that of the Severn Barrage in the UK. Many of the Tidal Power Stations like the gigantic Plant being planned in Russia will never come to fruition because of the very long gestation time.
- Difficulty in Transmission of Tidal Electricity – Some forms of Tidal Power generate power quite far away from the consumption of electricity. Transportation of Tidal Energy can be quite cumbersome and expensive.
- Weather Effects – Severe Weather like Storms and Typhoons can be quite devastating on the Tidal Power Equipment especially those place on the Sea Floor.
Tidal Energy like all other forms of Energy suffers from both advantages and disadvantages. The Tidal Energy phase of development has made the Cons outweigh the Pros unlike other Renewable Energy forms like Wind and Solar Energy. However innovative methods are being developing to harness Tidal and Wave Energy which might prove to be a game changer and move Tidal Energy into the mainstream Energy Industry.
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