Tidal Energy

Renewable Energy Source I’m Learning About – Underwater Turbines. Have you ever sat by the ocean, and took the time to witness its incredible power? Even on a calm day, the waves breaking in front of you should impress upon you the sheer power of nature. Humans have become adept at using the energy contained in fossil fuels, damming rivers to generate hydro-electricity, and even forms of nuclear energy, to power our cities and machines, but we have not yet learned to tame most of the other sources of energy that exist around us. We are getting good at capturing solar power and wind power, but there are a great many other sources of energy out there.

Geothermal for one. The heat generated by the core of our planet is many times greater than the energy contained in all the world’s fossil fuels, but so far, it’s most successful application has been limited to powering hot springs and spas, rather than a city. Another source of untapped energy is created by the celestial dance of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon: the ocean tides.

The sun and the moon together are responsible for our ocean’s tides. By exerting their gravitational pull on the earth, they tug on the ocean’s particles as well. These being liquid, they are not tied to the earth, but are free to flow, to stretch and slosh and to follow the pull of the orbiting bodies. The gravitational energy of the moon and the sun is thus converted into tidal energy on Earth. This tidal energy is continuously fed by our cosmic dance, and it is continuously dissipated into other forms. Energy cannot be destroyed, it can only be converted. What if we learned to capture this energy, to redirect it into electricity, to use the strength of the ocean to power our world!? It would be the greatest Judo move in the history of nature.

The obvious first question to ask is, how can we capture its energy? Many companies and research labs have sought to learn how to convert tidal currents into electricity, but so far the achievements have been very limited. I’ve seen tech ranging from mechanical pedals, pushed in and pulled out by the tides on a beach. I’ve seen enormous installations that use the same technology used in dams, to capture the rising and receding tide, and use it to power turbines. I’ve even seen electricity be created out of the difference in salinity between two bodies of water. One company however, has been catching my attention for their back to basics approach. SIMEC Atlantis Energy has been installing underwater turbines (that look almost identical to above ground wind turbines) around the UK since 2014. Since then, they have been building MeyGen, which will be Europe’s largest tidal power plant once completed.  How much energy could be generated with tidal power plants?  It is estimated that the US coastline alone could generate up to half of all it consumes every year.

The primary advantage of this renewable energy source is its reliability. One important issue that our current renewable energy sources have is their irregularity. The Sun is only available for approximately half of the day, and it is currently very difficult to store excess energy for the night. Wind is even more unreliable. In the age of sail, ships could be stranded for weeks when the wind decided to stop blowing. Frankly, we’re not very good at predicting the wind. Tides on the other hand are extremely regular, and are easily predicted, thanks to their being influenced by the rotation of the Earth and Moon around the sun. We’ve been calculating that to incredible precision in our calendars since a very deep antiquity. Nevertheless, no single energy source will ever be the end all and be all for humanity. We should learn to use every drip of renewable energy that we can. 

Learn more about SIMEC through the following link : https://simecatlantis.com

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