Regardless of the fact that wave and tidal power have the capacity to provide 20% of the UK’s electrical demands, we only get around 3% of our energy from these sources. Other renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, have grown rapidly in recent years, while tidal power has lagged behind.
Tidal power harnesses the enormous energy released by rising and falling tides using underwater turbines. To channel the flow of water, tidal farms normally employ barrages or artificial lagoons, although newer types of turbines can be put directly on the seafloor.
Unlike solar and wind power, which can only create electricity when the weather is favourable, tidal power may be used every day. The Moon’s gravitational pull creates two tremendous tides every day throughout the world.
Tidal farms, regardless of their actual carbon credentials, may be problematic for the surrounding ecosystem. Turbines can harm marine wildlife, while barrages prevent migratory species from migrating. Electromagnetic fields and noise are also an issue, especially for species that rely on echolocation.
However, because of the high cost of constructing tidal farms, legislators may find them difficult to support. The cheapest of five planned projects in the Severn Estuary shortlisted by the UK government in 2008 was £2.3 billion, and none were approved..
Why is tidal so costly? Certain expenses are unavoidable. Tidal farms must be strong enough to withstand the power of the tides, and their magnitude necessitates the use of a huge amount of building materials, mainly concrete.
However, technology-related prices may fall: tidal power is still in its infancy, and while it is now expensive, government backing may help lower costs, following in the footsteps of offshore wind energy.