#13 Tidal Power
A source of accessible, natural and consistent clean energy
Read time: 4 minutes
In this week’s issue you will learn about turning the movement of the tides into electricity: Tidal Power
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“Ocean energy technologies are expected to make a significant contribution to Europe’s energy system and industry as from 2030“ - European Commission
Top Tidal Power News 🗞️
Market growth: The wave and tidal energy market is projected to reach $29 billion by 2030 and it was only at $1.2 billion in 2022.
Tidal projects worldwide: Here’s an overview of the most significant tidal projects by region. The EU is leading with 17 projects in progress.
US Funding: The US Department of Energy will spend $35 million in funding tidal and river current projects. Such investments are also increasing in the EU, China and other markets.
Let’s dive in 🧠
This is about placing turbines in the sea to take advantage of the movement of the tides when they go up or down. The movement of such turbines is then converted into electricity.
Wind are solar are great but tidal power has several awesome aspects those renewable sources don’t have:
Consistency: The best about tidal power is that it’s very predictable. We know when tides come in and when they go out. The same can’t be said about wind or solar. This makes adding energy to the grid easier, the same can’t be said about intermittent renewables like wind and solar.
Size: Water is 800 times denser than air so tidal turbines need to be more resistant than wind turbines. But they can also be smaller and slower yet still produce as much power or even more than wind turbines.
Landscape: They don’t impact the view of the landscape either, which is usually an issue with wind and solar projects.
Just a reminder, the tides are caused by the gravity pull of the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth, that’s why they are so consistent.
Now let’s get more specific with the two main types of tidal power.
98% of tidal energy today comes from this type.
You place a dam close to the shore (where the effect of tides is felt the most) and wait until there is a big difference in water altitude between both sides. Then you open the doors at the bottom and let the water move the turbines.
It’s not very popular yet but it’s the one with the coolest projects.
No need to build massive dams that disrupt the environment.
The turbines take advantage of the currents created by the tides. They can be fixed to the ocean floor, floating so they can be moved around, or even be kind of like a kite that’s fixed to the floor but moves under the ocean.
Sounds great, right? So why is tidal power so small compared to other renewables?
Location: There needs to be at least a 5 meter difference between the low and the high tide. Large populations should be close and it should be easy to connect the turbines to the grid.
Environment: The infrastructure required can damage the local fauna, flora, and soil. It can also disturb nearby populations and fish species may get displaced to avoid those areas.
Price: It’s a very small industry and everything that’s underwater is more challenging and expensive (installation, maintenance, etc.). $130-$280 per megawatt-hour vs $20 per megawatt-hour for wind according to a 2019 study.
Top Tidal Power Companies 💰
Here are three of different types of tidal power.
Minesto: Their subsea kite swipes a turbine at a speed several times the actual speed of the underwater current.
Verdant Power: They make tidal turbines they fix to the bottom of the sea or rivers.
Sustainable Marine: They make a floating platform with several turbines underneath that aligns with the tide or river flow in any direction.
❗Extreme knowledge area❗
How tides work: A great video to understand how the moon and the sun cause the tides.
New York and tidal power: Most marine renewable energy produced in the US has been in New York City by Verdant Power’s project.
That’s it for today, 1 climate tech topic in under 5 minutes.
Next week… Nuclear Fusion! 🤯
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