Plans are being considered to turn the famous Dutch dikes into tidal power generators. Although originally built to protect the people and land of the Netherlands, now a committee of various government representatives has issued a recent report including some suggestions to revise the operation of the dikes to create a more pleasant and more natural land behind the dikes, and to provide a source of power. Openings in the series of dikes would provide ideal locations for tidal power plants.
The Netherlands have had protective ocean dikes to guard the coastline since the disaster in 1953 when more than 1800 people were killed and over half a million acres of land was flooded by the North Sea. After this tragedy, the extensive Delta Works were constructed over the next four decades, and the last parts of the project were finally completed in 1997.
Energy, however, is not the primary motivator for this. Instead, it is an interest in restoring the natural condition to estuaries and tidal flats whose character has significantly degraded over the years since the dikes were installed. "Opening water locks would allow the tide to return to now stagnant waters, the report stated. This would be a boon to nature, because certain plants and animals, which have all but disappeared since the estuaries were closed off, can return. Deeper into the delta lies a fresh water basin where smelly algae bloom in the summer. Allowing salt water to reach these outer stretches again could improve conditions for residents and holiday-makers."
In the aftermath of a catastrophe, it is all to easy to focus solely on preventing that tragedy, no matter the cost. 'With all the focus on safety after 1953, [committee director Joost] Schrijnen said, "other aspects were neglected." He now wants to change that. "But without sacrificing safety," he added.' Turning the dikes into a power generating solution, as well as improving environmental quality seems like a solution that will provide multiple benefits, in addition to protecting the land from the sea.
link: nrc handelsblad
written by EcoAnswer, April 26, 2010
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