Green Energy: Renewable Energy Sources – Tidal Power

The search for Nature-friendly energy production goes on. (“One thing for sure, it’s not the Tar Sands,” say the Greens).   We need clean energy technologies.

Here in Atlantic Canada, a number of programs using the tides along the Bay of Fundy are under way.  Why not?  Fundy has the World’s highest tides,  pushing “about 160 billion tonnes of water every tide – more than all the freshwater rivers and streams on the planet combined.”  The tidal bore, at the innermost end of the Bay, is a visual spectacle.

For instance, there’s FORCE (the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy), “Canada’s leading research centre for in-stream tidal energy.”  And Fundy Tidal Inc, which has announced that it’s seeking start-up funds for a similar project.

In Scotland, there’s already a number of such projects under way.  Here, from Laura Ginn, is a guest blog outlining the latest Scottish initiatives…

“Renewable Energy Sources: In with the Tides” a Guest Blog by Laura Ginn

Tidal power is moving forward in the form of many viable marine energy projects. RenewableEnergyWorld.com recently announced that the Scottish government will construct a tidal energy project off the coast near Caithness.

The project will harness 86 MW of tidal power; the power of the tides, particular in rough northern seas of Scotland, demonstrates how viable the ocean is as one of the Earth’s renewable energy sources.

Largest European Tidal Project

This large-scale Scottish tidal project will be situated “in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth off the north coast of Caithness, according to RenewableEnergyWorld.com. The initial project will rely on six turbines to tap into the area’s tidal power.

Meygen, the project’s developer, believes the site could eventually produce as much power as 398 MW. This particular site was chosen because it has an ideal water depth for the turbines and it is situated near the grid.

Support for Marine Energy

Scotland’s marine energy projects demonstrate that the region is, in fact, one of the primary leaders in this field. Viewing the ocean as a potent renewable energy source has fueled the region’s support for new tidal and wave technologies.

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, recently announced that funds from its “wave energy support programme” will be awarded to Pelamis Wave Power and Aquamarine Power to continue developing their wave energy projects. The minister also announced that consent Scottish tidal project can move forward. According to the article, once these projects are developed, they could constitute 20% of the UK’s power portfolio and the continued support of these initiatives helps drive that prospect forward.

Wind or Tide?

Tidal power, according to a recent article in the Guardian, Tidal energy has two main advantages over wind power: it is more predictable and it does not attract criticism from people who object to the visual impact of wind turbines on land. Wind power is far more developed, however, than tidal power so there are more wind turbines installed at this juncture in time.

However, in a region like Scotland’s coastal area, the tides are among the most conducive to tidal power schemes and developing the technology to harness that power, while possibly late in coming, is well in the works as this recently proposed tidal project suggests.

Pentland Firth

This water (more nearly a strait in nature than a firth) separates northern Caithness from the Orkney Islands. The tides of these waters are some of the fastest on the planet and have been charted as speeds of 16 knots (or 30 km/h).

Currents have been measured at five metres per second — another reason why developers have had their eye on this, otherwise, rather remote area of the UK. Once the tidal project is underway and advances, it has the potential to power well over 40,000 homes in the Scottish highlands, about 40% of homes in the Highlands, according to the Guardian report.

More Tidal Projects around the UK

Lately the UK Energy Minister was criticized for saying that extra subsidies would not be provided to tidal and wave projects in the waters off northern Scotland as they have for wind power. The extra subsidies have been particularly useful as these viable areas are remote and difficult to develop.

As the Guardian acknowledges, Installing and running these machines in the harsh north Atlantic waters off northern Scotland is highly challenging because of the extreme weather conditions, strength of the tides and depths of water. When posed the question about the extra subsidies, the minister initially said No, but that he also viewed the question as hypothetical. Perhaps the situation could change.

Other projects have been stalled or face difficult government hurdles often based upon environmental concerns. To outsiders, however, these obstacles appear to be part of the process and there are a number of projects that are still geared to prove that UK waters are, indeed, one of the country’s most significant renewable energy sources.

Many can’t help but wonder how renewable energy will play out if the Scottish government votes to leave the UK in the 2014 referendum. That outcome will likely play an important role in many of these projects and the energy sector may, of course, have an influential voice in the that election.

Laura Ginn understands the need for more exploration and investment of renewable energy sources in order to meet the worlds energy demands. Find out more about renewable energy at uSwitch.com the UK’s leading online comparison site.

Keywords: green energy, renewable energy companies, solar, solar energy, tidal energy advantages, what is renewable, wind

About Brian Alan Burhoe

A Graduate of the Holland College Culinary Course, Brian Alan Burhoe has cooked in Atlantic Coast restaurants and institutional kitchens for over 30 years. He is a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation. Brian's articles reflect his interests in food service, Canadian history, imaginative literature, wildlife writing, animal rights, wilderness preservation and our best friends -- our dogs. See his CIVILIZED BEARS!
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