Alternative Energy Sources >> Tidal Energy 

 

Tidal Energy

Tidal Energy 

 

 

 

Man has so much to benefit from the power of water. Apart from hydroelectric, water especially from the sea also provides tidal energy. This, too, is among the alternative sources of energy being harnessed today as the supply of fossil fuels is seen to diminish in the future. 

 


Tidal Energy Benefits

Tidal energy comes from the changing levels of sea water. It is a renewable form of energy as it uses energy from the shifting of tides rather than the burning of fuel. This type of energy will never ran out of supply due to the fact that tides always rise and fall because of the force of gravity. 

 


Predictability is a big edge of tidal energy. In other words, changes in tide patterns are easier to predict compared to wind or solar energy. And since this energy source is sure to occur on a consistent basis, it is a more reliable form. 

Tidal energy is also not dependent on the weather or season. Rather, it is based on the kinetic energy coming from the sun as the earth is orbiting around it. The same thing happens when the moon orbits around the earth during which both planets interact through gravitational forces. 


Simply put, the tides are generated as a result of the tidal forces caused by the moon and sun combined with the earth’s rotation. As all the forces 
are functioning within the orbital systems, there is imbalance in the water levels of the earth. This explains why water levels vary in different places. 

How Tidal Energy Is Used

A specific structure is usually constructed in order to collect energy from the tide. This is called a tidal lagoon which serves as a water containment reservoir that traps water during high tide. 

While the tide changes from high to low, varying pressures are noted between the water inside the containment structure and that in the open water source. This then results in a so-called head pressure resulting in potential energy which exists when contained water is released. 


Water within the reservoir is released when the tide is low. As water rushes out of the outlets, it makes the turbines spin and turns on power generators that produce electricity. 

Increase in height means more potential energy. Objects that go up, therefore, have more stored energy. This energy then when released can be transformed into electricity through the use of advanced technology. 

The potential of using tidal energy is limited only in areas where changes in water level are significant. Normally, only about 80 percent of energy can be collected from the tides and most is used in generating electricity. 

Types of Tidal Power

Tidal energy has two types – tidal stream systems and barrages. The tidal stream system utilizes the kinetic energy of moving water to power turbines similar to how windmills use moving air. It takes advantage of the natural tidal current flows which typically exist at the entrances of bays and rivers and between land masses. This has been a more preferred option because of its low cost and lower impact on the environment. 


On the other hand, barrages utilize the potential energy in the difference in height between the shifting tides. This, however, is more expensive to 
put up with a shortage of sites where it can ideally be constructed. 

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