Tidal Power is Just One of the Forms of Energy That Can Come from the Ocean
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Tidal Power is Just One of the Forms of Energy That Can Come from the Ocean

Tidal power energy comes from the rise and fall of ocean water. The rise and fall of tides can vary from a few inches to fairly high levels and varies from region to region depending on its geographical position. Advantage can be gained from this fact to install devices that can use the potential of this rise and fall to produce tidal power.

Tides move a lot of water in the oceans and large water bodies, on a daily basis, and this movement has a lot of potential to develop sources for tidal power energy. Such tides are caused by the rotation of the earth and the gravitational forces from the moon and the sun. Water levels are high at high tide and low when the water ebbs. It is this difference in levels that creates the necessary potential energy that can be tapped to produce a form of ocean power.

The Basics of a Tidal Power Plant

Most tidal power plants use the same principles as those used in any hydroelectric scheme. In a hydroelectric scheme, water levels are allowed to build up behind a dam to create the potential energy needed to drive turbines that are situated at much lower levels, downstream of the dam. Most such dams are built across narrow gorges and go up to fairly high heights which are determined by the topography surrounding the gorge. For tidal power plants, a similar dam is build across river estuaries that normally flow into the sea. Such dams are comparatively low and will rarely be much more than the expected high tide ranges expected in that particular area. Such structures are called barrages and will be quite long. Opening are left in such barrages for installation of turbines that operate at relatively low heads. Openings are also created for movement of vessels, if necessary , with the use of sluice gates. The differential needed to create the necessary head is ensured by the barrage, as water levels on either side of it will vary depending on the flow of the tide. The turbines function only when there is sufficient movement of water between the inside and outside of the barrage and is normally limited to about ten hours per day. The turbines used in such installations can function with water differences of less than 5 meters.

The Advantages of Using Tidal Power

A major advantage in using tidal power generation is that the source of power, the tides, are from a resource that is never exhausted. Such tidal forces exist all over the world, and as there are very few countries that do not have access to the sea, is a resource that can be tapped by almost any nation. The tides are completely predictable and reliable, thus making it very easy for authorities to decide on the production and distribution of the power from such tidal power plants.

Environmental Concerns Connected with Tidal Power

There is a lot of marine life in the seas and rivers and estuaries on which such barrages may be built for tidal power. The barrages and turbines can cause some problems for such life. This is not an insurmountable problem and can be tackled adequately by proper implementation of safety devices. However, sea bed, wave and tidal patterns are affected and can causes deposition of sediment on either side of the barrage. Proper studies on the effects of these need to be made before deciding on the position of a barrage. It is likely that such power plants can also affect fishing and shipping, and the interest of the people dependent on this for their livelihood have to be kept in view.

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