Table of Contents
This study provides a technology overview of the different tidal energy technologies currently available in the market and also technologies which are being developed currently. The study discusses about various technical features in a tidal energy system and also the tidal energy scenario (funding, R&D initiatives, tidal energy projects) in different regions across the globe. Restraints and drivers of the industry has also been identified and discussed. Technology management strategies implemented by different companies have also been discussed and the technology roadmap charted.
Tidal energy being more reliable than wave energy has a few operational plants with substantial capacity across the globe. In the current scenario, all major large scale plants are being operated using the tidal barrage method.
Apart from tidal energy converters, other important technical aspects of the tidal energy plant is the foundation, grid connectivity and other supportive infrastructure
Europe is the front runner in the development and adoption of tidal energy technologies, whereas the United States is one of the top innovators in the same.
A region wise analysis reveals that China and South Korea are both very active in the space of tidal energy.
An upcoming untested method of tidal power generation (known as dynamic tidal power) seems to have created interest across the world and has great potential if successful.
Tidal Plant Types
Tidal energy can be extracted from both kinetic as well as potential energy.
Tidal Stream generators has the same operating principle as wind turbines. They utilize tidal streams which flow when tides are moving in and out which causes turbine rotation and subsequently electricity generation by turning the generators. The electrical generators are installed directly into the tidal stream.
Existing plants: SeaGen ( x MW), Northern Ireland, operational since April 2008.
Tidal Barrage utilize the difference in height between low and high tides. A dam with a sluice is constructed; sea water flows in during high tide, and when the tide is low, water is released under pressure through turbines into the sea. The rotation of the turbine creates electricity. Drawbacks of the tidal barrage are high civil infrastructure costs and environmental change.
Some of the larger plants operating using the tidal barrage concept are La Rance Tidal Barrage ( x MW), France; Sihwa Tidal Power Plant (254 MW), South Korea; Annapolis Royal Generating Station ( x MW), Canada; and Jiangxia Tidal Power Station, China ( x MW).
Tidal Lagoons work on a concept similar to tidal barrage – except for a perimeter embankment for water impoundment. Lagoons can thus be sited completely offshore or connected to the land. The same kind of turbines as used in a barrage scheme is used for electricity generation.
New Trends: Dynamic Tidal Power
Dynamic tidal power or DTP is a new and untested method of tidal power generation. The concept involves a large dam-like structure, which would extend from the coast to the ocean. A perpendicular barrier would be constructed at the far end which forms a large ‘ T’ shape. This long T-dam would act as an interference with coast-parallel oscillating tidal waves,
which run along the coasts of continental shelves containing powerful hydraulic currents.
- Dynamic tidal power doesn't require a very high natural tidal range, this increases the number of sites which can produce tidal energy.
- Generates power irrespective of the direction in which the tide moves.
- The system only works if the barrage is at least x kilometers long and the turbines work in both directions
- Could be very expensive and has not been tested till now.
- DTP could also be combined with other functions such as shore protection.
China is showing great interest in adoption of the technology and is conducting a feasibility study for DTP tidal energy which is supported by eight Dutch companies (POWER) group.
South Korea possesses good potential and could be one of the major adopters of DTP in the future.
UK is another country with high potential.
Tidal Turbine Types
Horizontal Axis Turbine
Horizontal axis turbines extract energy from moving water in much the same way as wind turbines extract energy from moving air.
Vertical Axis Turbine
Vertical axis turbines extract energy from the tides in a similar manner to that above, however the turbine is mounted on a vertical axis.
A hydrofoil is attached to an oscillating arm. The tidal current flowing either side of a wing results in lift. This motion then drives fluid in a hydraulic system to be converted into electricity.
Enclosed Tips (Venturi)
Also known as venturi effect devices, the device is housed in in a duct which concentrates the tidal flow passing through the turbine. The flow of water can drive a turbine directly or the induced pressure differential in the system can drive an air-turbine.
The Archimedes Screw is a helical corkscrew-shaped device (has a helical surface surrounding a central cylindrical shaft) which draws power from the tidal stream as the water moves up/ through the spiral turning the turbines.
A tidal kite is tethered to the sea bed and carries a turbine below the wing. As the kite moves, water flows through the turbine and electricity is produced in the gearless generator which is transmitted through a cable in the tether attached to the wing.
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