Tidal energy is also considered as a source of power generation that is either created in tides and then by rising and fall in the currents of the ocean. It is a non-renewable source of energy as tides come and go naturally. Although now some fossil fuels are consumed to create paddles and turbines that are used to create energy.
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Generation of Power From Tidal Energy
Moreover, in areas where there is a significant difference between high and low tide, then the generation of electricity can be plentiful. The largest facility these days which is in operation is Sihwa Lake Power Station in South Korea.
While on the other hand, the United States doesn’t have any active power plants or nor there are many options with suitable locations to install them.
In this article, we are going to consider the pros and cons of tidal energy so we can wean off fossil fuels for the production of electricity.
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Pros of Tidal Energy
First have a look at the pros of tidal energy, and they are as follows.
Climate-Friendly Source of Electricity
Tidal energy does not produce any emissions unless the necessary equipment has been created for the production of power. This also means that even for a complex project, the amount of time it takes to achieve net savings is very low. Some of the facilities now can see net emissions in savings being in 5 years or next.
It has been observed that the tidal energy complex takes up a minimal amount of space and does not interfere with the natural behaviors’ of oceans.
Renewable and Predictable Energy Source
It is a fact that as soon as the earth rotates and the moon orbits., there will be tides. Gravitational fields create water movement around the planet, and this, in turn, generates power looking at tidal energy. Once you invest in collection materials, then energy produced by tides is converted into electricity as long as the installation remains active.
Just like tidal energy, many forms of renewable energy are somewhat unpredictable. Solar can also be disturbed by overcast days. No doubt wind energy can also be disrupted because it becomes difficult to process weak or strong winds. Tidal energy works on cycles that are easy to track and predictable.
An Efficient Form of Energy
The average coal-fired power plant reaches an efficiency of about 30 per cent. At the same time, clean coal plants improve that rating to about 50 per cent. It has been noticed that many forms of renewable energy are in the 70 per cent range for efficiency. So tidal energy comes in at about 80 per cent as an efficiency rate. In this way, we become able to convert the majority of available useful life present in water movement to tidal energy.
Low Operational and Maintenance Costs
When you exclude installation costs from tidal energy installations, then operational costs are relatively low. In some regions, the cost is kept as low as $0.02 per kilowatt-hour. This also makes it one of the most affordable forms of energy. We can also access this tidal energy by using current technologies.
Longer Effective Life
When they were constructed for the first time, the expected lifespan of nuclear power in the United States was kept near about 50 years. According to Scientific American, those plants are expected to last another 50-70 years beyond the expected life cycle. Tidal energy also provides a longer effective lifestyle without taking care of the danger of a meltdown. Moreover, the first tidal energy power plant was installed in about 1996, and it is still in operation. Today this power plant is generating the same levels of electricity that did in its first years.
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Cons of Tidal Energy
Now it’s time to shift towards the cons of tidal energy.
Tidal facilities have been operating for more than 50 years without any kind of environmental impact. That does not mean that this trend will continue to grow. If we add more facilities along shorelines, it may impact how beaches operate. You will also come to know how marine life interacts with shore and other impacts that we may not know about it. The reality about tidal energy is that it is an emerging technology, and still we have several issues that need to be resolved.
Limited Installation Plants
Facilities of tidal energy must be located close to land, and produced electricity can be distributed to the public network. They must be located near a shoreline with dynamic tidal energies that are effective.
In the United States, only a handful of regions display potential for being a good site for the US-based tidal energy power plant.
Impacts On Regular Tidal Cycles
Tidal energy must be collected so that it can be used effectively. This also means that the energy of the tides must be harvested. That process would reduce tidal movements in certain locations, which would leave a rippling effect on the shorelines of the entire region. It may change the structures of tidal flats and later can be used as habitat by marine birds and animals depending on the tide present.
Changes to Salinity
Another term used for harvesting the energy of the tides is known as the salinity of the water in that region. Changes to water salinity could influence marine life in several ways. There are chances that it may cause certain areas to become barren. That’s the main reason why the United States is testing tidal energy in the Puget Sound region. The goal is to learn how salinity changes or the presence of tidal energy equipment may impact local marine life.
Risk of Damage
Tidal energy is usually gathered in regions where shipping traffic may also be present. Buoys, markers, and lighted indicators can be used to indicate the location of the facility to keep safe from damage. But if those markers get destroyed, then there will be no opportunity that swimmers could encounter the facility and could realize it. It could be a life-threatening centre.
This is a comprehensive guide related to the pros and cons of tidal energy which shows us that there is a world of potential with the motion of our global lives. As technologies get improved, tidal energy would be cheaper, faster, and easier than other forms of energy.