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Tidal energy: what it is and how it works

It is in the 60s when tidal energy arises. Currently, this energy has continued to be developed, and there are different mechanisms to take advantage of it, although it is only possible to generate it in very small quantities. This is due to the fact that sufficiently advanced technologies are not available to be able to obtain an optimal use of it and replace traditional energies.

If you want to learn more about this type of energy, in addition to knowing how tidal power plants take advantage of the tide to generate energy, keep reading this interesting AgroCorrn article because here we talk about what tidal energy is and how it works .

What is tidal energy

We call tidal energy, ocean energy or marine energy to the energy that is achieved by taking advantage of the movement produced by the tides , that is, when they rise and fall. The energy that is naturally generated in this way is used by the turbines that, when activated, move the mechanical assembly of the alternator and, thus, electrical energy is produced .

It is important to mention that this energy is sometimes confused with wave energy or also called wave energy . Wave energy is that produced by the movement of waves and tidal energy by the movement of the tides, so they are not the same although both are produced in the sea. Here you can learn more about what is wave energy .

To continue learning about marine energy that uses the tides, in the next section we will explain in detail how tidal energy is produced and we will continue talking about its characteristics and some examples of power plants.

How Tidal Power Works

The best places to install a tidal power station are in an estuary, a bay or an estuary where seawater penetrates and there is a difference of at least 5 meters between high tide (maximum sea level) and low tide (minimum sea ​​level). Once the location for the plant has been chosen, this is how tidal power works :

  1. The construction of a dam is necessary to control the movement of the water.
  2. When the tide rises, the dam gates open and the water passes into the reservoir.
  3. When the water reaches the maximum level of the reservoir, the gates are closed.
  4. At low tide the sea level drops and a difference is achieved between the water level of the reservoir and the sea.
  5. At this time the floodgates of the loading channels are opened so that the water passes from the reservoir to the sea through the turbines.
  6. The force of the water causes the turbine propeller to be driven, making it rotate and, as a consequence, this movement reaches a generator, which is the one that will produce electricity.

Characteristics of tidal energy

There are many characteristics of tidal energy , within them we find:

  • The main characteristic is that with this type of energy electricity is obtained thanks to the rise and fall of the tides.
  • It is a type of renewable energy and can be produced at any time of the year. We recommend you learn more about renewable and non-renewable energies: examples and summary with this other AgroCorrn article.
  • We are facing an energy considered as clean, since its production does not emit GHG or greenhouse gases. Find out more about What are clean or green energies with this other post.
  • Knowing when the tides are going to occur is possible thanks to advances in science and technology, so it is possible to focus the design of the systems so that they are suitable for the potential to be obtained.
  • It is an energy that we can consider as efficient due to the density of the water, since the energy can be produced even by making the turbines move at a low speed, thus adjusting their production to the need.
  • Its facilities are easy to maintain.
  • Its facilities are silent, thanks to this there is no noise pollution. Obtaining the energy is economically affordable.

In the following article you can know the Advantages and disadvantages of tidal energy .

Examples of tidal energy

The location of the dams is a crucial element for it to be feasible to use this type of energy, some examples of tidal power plants are:

Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Plant, South Korea

It is located on Lake Sihwa located 4 km from the city of Siheung, installed on the edge of an artificial lake facing the sea. It was commissioned in 2011. It is currently the largest tidal power plant in the world and generates unidirectional power twice a day. It has 10 turbines that have the capacity to produce 552.7 GWh / Year, being able to supply 500,000 inhabitants for domestic activities.

La Rance Tidal Power Plant, France

The plant is located on the estuary of the River Rance in Brittany. Its installation features a dam and a dike, covering more than 22 square kilometers. It is the first tidal power station installed in the world, being in 1996 when it was put into service. Currently it continues to generate energy and is the second largest in the world, being able to cover 60% of the energy needs of the Brittany region during the year. The tides of this plant have an average of 8 meters, and it has 24 turbines producing 540 GWh / Year.

Annapolis Royal Tidal Power Plant, Canada

It was commissioned in 1984 and the tides have a mean range of 10.8 meters. It only has 1 turbine installed that produces 30 GWh / Year. The turbine it uses has been undergoing experimentation since 1984, being 18 MW with a consumption of 400 m3 / s and, like the Sihwa power plant, it works in a unidirectional direction.

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