What is Tidal Energy?
Tidal energy is a form of hydro power that converts the energy of the tides into electricity or other useful forms of power. The tide is created by the gravitational effect of the sun and the moon on the earth causing cyclical movement of the seas. Tidal energy is therefore an entirely predictable form of renewable energy, which can be harnessed in two forms:
Tidal Range is the vertical difference in height between the high tide and the succeeding low tide.
Artificial tidal barrages or lagoons may be constructed to capture the tide. Turbines in the barrier or lagoon generate electricity as the tide floods into the reservoir; water thus retained can then be released through turbines, again generating electricity once the tide outside the barrier has receded.
Tidal Stream is the flow of water as the tide ebbs and floods, and manifests itself as tidal current. Tidal Stream devices seek to extract energy from this kinetic movement of water, much as wind turbines extract energy from the movement of air.
The sea currents created by movement of the tides are often magnified where water is forced to flow through narrow channels or around headlands. There are a number of locations around the coastline of the UK where the tidal stream resource is high, and it is in these areas where early technology developments are taking place to explore the prospect of harnessing tidal energy.