A demonstration installation for a new method of electrical generation using tidal power is being planned by Nova Scotia Power and Open Hydro, an Irish technology developer. This method of tidal generation may prove to be more widely usable than current methods of harnessing tidal power.
Nova Scotia Power currently operates the only tidal power generation plant in the western hemisphere. But that facility relies on dams and storage ponds, and is functionally akin to standard hydroelectric generation. "A large dam called a barrage is built across a river or outcropping of land. The dam funnels the water into the tidal generating plant as it flows in and out with the tide. To produce practical amounts of tidal power, a difference of a least five metres between high and low tide is needed. There are only about 40 sites around the world with this kind of tidal range. Currently in Canada, the only practical site is the Bay of Fundy." (from Nova Scotia Power)
In contrast, the new system will sit on the seabed and will require no dams or large structures for operation. The in-stream tidal power system is analagous to a wind turbine, sitting in a flow and drawing power from it. But unlike wind power, the in stream tidal generator has a regular source of energy from the cycling of the tides.
Open Hydro cites three primary advantages for tidal power:
- Energy produced is completely predictable.
- Turbines are located beneath the surface and cannot be seen or heard.
- Water is 830 times denser than air meaning that a much smaller turbine is needed to generate the same volume of electricity.
These are all good points. The most significant drawback to tidal power is that it is constrained to coastal locations with strong tidal flow, which limits its applicability. It isn't going to be the only energy solution for the future, but where it can be installed, it looks like it will be a great option in the sustainable power generation portfolio.
via: CBC Tech News
written by Philip Proefrock, February 09, 2007
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