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Tidal Renewable Energy Guide – Uses,Economics,Pros and Cons of Tidal Renewable Power

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What is Tidal Renewable Energy

Tidal Energy is one of the many forms of Renewable Energy like Solar,Wind and Geothermal Energy.Tidal Energy is derived from the movement of Waves or Tides due to the Gravitational Attraction of the Earth and the Moon.Tidal Energy is a form of Gravitational Energy which can be used to do Work or be converted in other forms of Energy.Tidal Energy is still an immature technology with advancements in Tidal Energy not as rapid as other forms of Renewable Energy.

Tidal Renewable Energy is a niche form of Alternative Energy with less than 500 MW of Electricity Capacity worldwide.Tidal Renewable Energy generates less than .001% of the worldwide electricity generation as the Technology of this Alternative Energy is still quite immature.Tidal Renewable Energy is still an immature technology with most of the plants built around the world being pilot/demonstration ones.The older ones based on Tidal Barrages are also very few in number with the Tidal Power Plant in Le Rance in France the only major operating Tidal Power Plant in the World.Tidal Barrages however are facing major headwinds due to high capital costs and long gestation periods.The newer Tidal Renewable Energy Technologies like Pelamis and Seagen hold big potential though  still a decade away from reaching large commercial scale just like Algae based Biofuel and other forms of Green Technology.

Tidal Wave Energy is still in its baby phase with the technology not developed far enough to make it a real alternative to fossil fuel energy.However like solar and wind power 20-30 years ago,Tidal Wave Energy can still develop to become a major form of alternative energy.

Uses of Tidal Renewable Energy

  1. Tidal Electricity – Like other forms of Energy,the main usage of Tidal Energy is in the generation of Electricity.Tidal Energy is being used in France to generate 240 MW of Tidal Electricity at very low costs.
  2. Grain Mills – Tidal Energy has been used for hundreds of years.Just like Wind Mills,Tidal Energy was used for the mechanical crushing of grains in Grain Mills.
  3. Provide Protection to Coast in High Storms,Prevent Flooding etc – Tidal Barrages can prevent Damage to the Coast during High Storms and also provide an easy transport method between the 2 arms of a Bay or an Estuary on which it is built.Tidal Barrages can also prevent flooding,seperate saline water from sweet water and increase the depth of the estuary.

Advantages of Tidal Renewable Energy

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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.

Disadvantages of Tidal Renewable Energy

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Economics of Tidal Renewable Energy

The newer forms of converting Tidal Energy into Electricity are still in the demonstration stage to really form an idea about the economics of Tidal Power.The older form like Tidal Barrages are few and far between.The high capital cost has killed most of the Tidal Barrages in the drawing stage itself.The Le Rance is the only major >50 MW Tidal Barrage in the world and it has performed at extremely low costs.However the huge investment required removes private capital from the equation and government too have been reluctant to invest despite the very low running costs of the Tidal Plants.


1 ) Rance Tidal Tidal Power Plant is the world’s first and the most famous Tidal Power Plant in the world.The 240 MW power plant is located on Rance River,Brittany,France and was started almost 45 years ago.The Tidal Power Station is run by French state owned electricity giant EDF .

2) Annapolis Royal Tidal Power Plant is North America’s only power station and is located in Nova Scotia,Canada with a 20 MW power capacity.This Tidal Power Plant is built on the Bay of Frundy was built in 1984.The power plant operates on the same principle of tidal barrage and it has also faced issues of damage to river and marine life.

3) Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Plant unlike other Power Plants is already being constructed and with a capacity of 254 MW will be the biggest Tidal Power Plant in the world when completed.The plants is located in South Korea.The cost of the plant is estimated to be between $300-400 million which compares quite favorably with other forms of energy .


Tidal Power is an extremely good source of Renewable Energy,however the practical limitations of location,high investment and lack of technology advancement has made Tidal Energy a negligible source of Power globally.While some countries like India and South Korea have Tidal Power Plants in the planning stage,UK has killed the Severn Tidal Power Station because of high capital investments.


Abhishek Shah

One Response so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Bono

    global warming is a ntraaul process of the Earth. when animals and humans respire we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere however, this ntraaul action is offset by carbon-fixating processes such as photosynthesis by plants. the resipiration of animals and photosynthesis of plants create a dynamic equilibrium where there are periods that the planet will get warmer and periods were there would be a slight drop in temperature but in the longrun, the temperature is fairly stable and constant. anthropogenic disturbances, in other words disturbances caused by humans, disrupt the dynamic equilibrium created by nature. humans are adding to the earth far too many pollutants than nature can handle.climate change was something that was discovered only recently. advancements in technology allowed for accurately tracking patterns of temperature. furthermore, there is something called the lag phase where the anthropogenic disturbances do not take a noticeable toll on the environment until the lag phase has passed. so, the global warming we are seeing is arguably the effects from the Industrial Revolution. and we all know that emissions have only gone up since the Industrial Revolution therefore, the effects of climate change is only going to amplify in effect. I really hope that people understand the pressing issue of climate change and will act on it.tell your local politician that you are extremely concerned about this issue and you expect them to act on it immediately. threaten to not vote for them come the next election and hopefully their pragmatism would cause them to actually do something concrete!