Energy Research Developments: Tidal Energy, Energy Efficiency and Solar Energy

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  1. You are here
  2. Tidal power - Wikipedia
  3. Ocean power in New Zealand
  4. Programmes / Technology
Top 10 Energy Sources of the Future

The most common systems in operation use moving water from tides to spin underwater turbines. Marine energy systems generate no greenhouse gas emissions and devices are generally under water, so have little or no visual impact. The downside is that the corrosive and destructive aspects of seawater make marine energy machinery difficult and expensive to build and maintain.

EECA administered the Marine Energy Deployment Fund between and , which offered funding to get marine energy projects into the water. While some useful lessons were learned, none of the 6 projects selected for funding have gone ahead. Large amounts of money are being spent around the world to commercialise different forms of marine energy. In June this year, Bloomberg reported that the UK went nine days without generating almost any wind power. In contrast, scientists already know the volume of water and the level of power the tidal equipment will likely generate before construction.

Tidal power is also relatively prosperous at low speeds, in contrast to wind power. Moreover, technological advances in the industry will only drive cheaper and more sustainable tidal power solutions. One of our assets, CorPower, is challenging how the industry thinks about wave energy by using principles of the human heart.

Through its wave energy converter, the company is able to deliver five times higher wave energy absorption than other technologies.

Untapped potential

Tidal barrages are long concrete structures usually built across river estuaries. The barrages have tunnels along them containing turbines, which are turned when water on one side flows through the barrage to the other side.

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These dam-like structures are said to have a lifespan of around years. The La Rance in France, for example, has been operational since and continues to generate significant amounts of electricity each year.

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Wind turbines and solar panels generally come with a warranty of 20 to 25 years, and while some solar cells have reached the year mark, they typically degenerate at a pace of 0. The longer lifespan of tidal power makes it much more cost-competitive in the long run. Even nuclear power plants do not last this long.

For example, the new Hinckley Point C nuclear plant planned to be built in Somerset, UK, is estimated to provide power for around 60 years, once completed, according to a BBC report. Disadvantages of tidal energy: lack of research While the true effects of tidal barrages and turbines on the marine environment have not been fully explored, there has been some research into how barrages manipulate ocean levels and can have similar negative effects as hydroelectric power.

The Atlantis-manufactured turbine studied was able to turn off when larger mammals approached.

Tidal power - Wikipedia

However, there is still a need for further research. We have no concrete proof, just theories based on existing knowledge and computer modelling. Fellow PNNL marine ecologist Jeff Ward said the organisation was observing how EMFs damage the ability of juvenile Coho salmon to recognise and evade predators, or the negative impact on Dungeness crabs to detect odours through their antennules.

They are also observing whether sea life is attracted or repelled by EMFs in general.

Ocean power in New Zealand

Particular species that are susceptible to EMFs are sharks, skates, rays, crustaceans, whales, dolphins, bony fish, and marine turtles. Many of these animals use natural magnetic fields to navigate their environment. Another experiment found that benthic elasmobranchs — which includes sharks, rays and skates — were attracted to a source of EMF emitted from a subsea umbilical. Again, there was no conclusive evidence of any cumulative, detrimental effects.

While long-term generation costs are relatively good compared to other renewable energy systems, the initial construction cost makes investing in tidal energy a particularly risky venture. Firstly, installing a tidal system is technologically challenging.

Programmes / Technology

Manufacturers are competing against the moving ocean, and the equipment and technical knowledge needed to successfully construct the system is typically very expensive, especially compared to a wind or solar farm. The second expense relates to the point made in the previous section. Companies managing a tidal power system need to conduct continuous analysis into the effect it has on the specific environment in which they are operating.

This requires research and assessment from environmentalists, marine biologists, and geographical experts to mitigate the destruction of sensitive ecosystems, which can be costly. But the big issue is to get the cost down. Right now, there is the reality of surviving while we get there. METKA is a leading international contractor of fully integrated turn-key power generation projects with complete engineering, procurement and construction EPC scope.