Tidal power pros and cons: Here we profile the benefits and drawbacks of the power source
Though the development of the tidal power is at the nascent stage, it’s forecast to have a sizeable impact on the world stage in terms of its various pros and cons.
Tidal energy is generated by converting energy from the force tides into power, and its production is more predictable when compared with other generation types such as wind energy and solar power.
Yet, despite the fact the world’s first large-scale tidal power plant became operational in 1966, tidal power has not reach the level of prevalence many had anticipated.
Today’s increased focus on the proliferation of renewable energy is expected to change this, however, as companies and countries alike look for new sources of clean power to exploit.
Here we take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of tidal power.
Pros and cons of tidal power: Advantages
As it is derived from tidal waves, which result from the gravitational pulls from the sun and the moon and the earth’s rotation around its axis, the energy is classified as a renewable source.
Compared to limitations in power generation from finite fossil fuel reserves, tidal energy does not have any such constraints.
Taking this into account, the tidal energy generation may last for thousands of years as long as its tides remain.
As the tidal power generation emits no harmful gases into the atmosphere, it is an environmentally friendly energy source.
Further, the tidal power projects do not need much space compared to solar farms which require a large area of land for installation of modules.
Tidal power installations also occupy less space compared other modes of power generation.
The construction of the projects can also carried out with correct dimensions based on the formation of high and low tides in certain cycles.
Assessment of these factors can help easily determine the size and capacity of a tidal plant at a particular area.
Given the longer life span of tidal power plants compared to those that depend on fossil fuels, they are considered as cost-effective.
Also, the tidal plants can be effective at low tides speeds and produce power to bring down the overall costs.
Pros and cons of tidal power: Disadvantages
Site availability constraints
Limited availability of sites has remained a major constraint in the development of tidal power projects.
However, recent innovations in design and turbine technology for tidal power are expected to offer a potential to increase the installed capacity of tidal plants.
The technological developments are also expected to result in reducing economic and environmental costs of the projects, thereby increasing their availability.
Sites close to land
Tidal power plants have to be constructed near to the land, as high tidal currents are needed to produce power.
A huge variation in tides and tidal velocities can significantly increase the potential of a site for tidal electricity generation.
Though the places where there is variation in tides, offer greater potential for tidal projects, scientists are trying to develop technology which can generate enough energy even in low tide environment.
The impact of tidal power projects on the environment is yet to be ascertained precisely.
Tidal power can damage marine life, as tidal turbines with their rotating blades may lead to deaths of living creatures in a sea.
Noise from the rotation of the turbines may also impact fish habitations in the tidal power locations.
Tidal energy can also impact the quality of water and sediment processes.
Installing a tidal barrage may result in a change to shoreline within a bay, damaging an ecosystem that relies on tidal flats.
Flushing of the bay may also be affected by the prevention of the flow of water in and out of the bay.
As a result, there may be reduction in saltwater, impacting marine life.