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Tidal Power. Lucas O’Neil Elec 395 May 30, 2006. Introduction. Alternative Energy Sources/Renewable Energy Overview of Tidal Generation -Tides -Basic methods of generating electricity from tides -Geography -Pros/Cons -Environmental concerns Different types of tidal generators

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tidal power

Tidal Power

Lucas O’Neil

Elec 395

May 30, 2006

  • Alternative Energy Sources/Renewable Energy
  • Overview of Tidal Generation


-Basic methods of generating electricity from tides



-Environmental concerns

  • Different types of tidal generators

-Tidal fence

-Tidal lagoons

-Tidal turbines

  • Conclusions
  • References
alternative energy sources
Alternative Energy Sources
  • Use of any given energy source in human society encounters limits to expansion. At the beginning of the 21st century some issues have achieved global dimension. Principal fossil energy sources, such as oil and natural gas are approaching exhaustion that may occur within the span of a generation
  • Closely linked to energy development are concerns about the environmental effects of fossil fuel energy use, such as global warming, and health issues due to air pollution. Energy development issues are part of the much debated sustainable development problem.
  • Canada and the United States have incredibly high energy consumption per capita
Need to move away from fossil fuels
  • Need safe and clean energy sources that don’t create significant amounts of waste.
  • Renewable Energy Sources offer this.
renewable energy
Renewable Energy
  • Renewable energy sources capture their energy from existing flows of energy, from on-going natural processes, such as sunshine, wind, flowing water (hydropower), biological processes, and geothermal heat flows. Renewable energy is from an energy resource that is replaced rapidly by a natural process such as power generated from the sun or from the wind.
  • Examples of Renewable Energy Sources:





tidal power6
Tidal Power
  • Tidal power generators derive their energy from movement of the tides.
  • Obviously requires large bodies of water nearby. Not viable on the prairies for example.
  • Has potential for generation of very large amounts of electricity, or can be used in smaller scale.
  • Tidal power is not a new concept and has been used since at least the 11th Century in Britain and France for the milling of grains.
  • There are a number of places around the world that have adopted pilot projects for different types of tidal generators
  • Tidal power utilizes the twice-daily variation in sea level caused primarily by the gravitational effect of the Moon and, to a lesser extent the Sun on the world's oceans. The Earth's rotation is also a factor in the production of tides.
  • The interaction of the Moon and the Earth results in the oceans bulging out towards the Moon (Lunar Tide). The sun’s gravitational field pulls as well (Solar Tide)
  • As the Sun and Moon are not in fixed positions in the celestial sphere, but change position with respect to each other, their influence on the tidal range (difference between low and high tide) is also effected.
  • If the Moon and the Sun are in the same plane as the Earth, the tidal range is the superposition of the range due to the lunar and solar tides. This results in the maximum tidal range (spring tides). If they are at right angles to each other, lower tidal differences are experienced resulting in neap tides.
how do tides changing electricity9
How do tides changing = Electricity?
  • As usual, the electricity is provided by spinning turbines.
  • Two types of tidal energy can be extracted: kinetic energy of currents between ebbing and surging tides and potential energy from the difference in height (or head) between high and low tides.
  • The potential energy contained in a volume of water is

E = xMg

where x is the height of the tide, M is the mass of water and g is the acceleration due to gravity.

  • Therefore, a tidal energy generator must be placed in a location with very high-amplitude tides. Suitable locations are found in the former USSR, USA, Canada, Australia, Korea, the UK and other countries
The generation of electricity from tides is very similar to hydroelectric generation, except that water is able to flow in both directions and this must be taken into account in the development of the generators.
  • The simplest generating system for tidal plants, known as an ebb generating system, involves a dam, known as a barrage across an estuary.
  • Sluice gates on the barrage allow the tidal basin to fill on the incoming high tides and to exit through the turbine system on the outgoing tide (known as the ebb tide).
  • Alternatively, flood-generating systems, which generate power from the incoming tide are possible, but are less favored than ebb generating systems.
ebb generation
Ebb Generation
  • The basin is filled through the sluices and freewheeling turbines until high tide. Then the sluice gates and turbine gates are closed.
  • They are kept closed until the sea level falls to create sufficient head across the barrage and the turbines generate until the head is again low. Then the sluices are opened, turbines disconnected and the basin is filled again.
  • The cycle repeats itself.
  • Ebb generation (also known as outflow generation) takes its name because generation occurs as the tide ebbs.


Ebb generating system with a bulb turbine

some turbine types
Some Turbine Types

Rim Type

Bulb Type

  • In systems with a bulb turbine, water flows around the turbine, making access for maintenance difficult, as the water must be prevented from flowing past the turbine.
  • Rim turbines reduce these problems as the generator is mounted in the barrage, at right angles to the turbine blades. Unfortunately, it is difficult to regulate the performance of these turbines and it is unsuitable for use in pumping.
  • Tubular turbines have been proposed for use some UK projects. In this configuration, the blades are connected to a long shaft and orientated at an angle so that the generator is sitting on top of the barrage.

Tubular Type

environmental ecological concerns
Environmental/Ecological Concerns
  • Tidal power generation can offer significant advantages, including improved transportation due to the development of traffic or rail bridges across estuaries and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by utilizing tidal power in place of fossil fuels.
  • However there are also some significant environmental disadvantages which make tidal power, particularly barrage systems less attractive than other forms of renewable energy.

La Rance, France (240MW)

Tidal Changes
  • The construction of a tidal barrage in an estuary will change the tidal level in the basin. This change is difficult to predict, and can result in a lowering or raising of the tidal level. This change will also have a marked effect on the sedimentation and purity of the water within the basin. In addition, navigation and recreation can be affected as a result of a sea depth change due to increased sedimentation within the basin. A raising of the tidal level could result in the flooding of the shoreline, which could have an effect on the local marine food chain.

Ecological Changes

  • Potentially the largest disadvantage of tidal power is the effect a tidal station has on the plants and animals which live within the estuary. As very few tidal barrages have been built, very little is understood about the full impact of tidal power systems on the local environment. What has been concluded is that the effect due to a tidal barrage is highly dependent upon the local geography and marine ecosystem.
  • Wales have been caught in tidal generators.
  • Fish may move through sluices safely, but when these are closed, fish will seek out turbines and attempt to swim through them. Also, some fish will be unable to escape the water speed near a turbine and will be sucked through.
different generator types
Different Generator Types
  • Tidal Fences
  • Tidal Lagoons
  • Tidal Turbines
tidal fences
Tidal Fences
  • Tidal fences are composed of individual, vertical axis turbines which are mounted within the fence structure, known as a caisson.
  • Kind of like giant turn styles which completely block a channel, forcing all of the water through them.
  • Unlike barrage tidal power stations, tidal fences can also be used in unconfined basins, such as in the channel between the mainland and a nearby off shore island, or between two islands.
tidal fences cont
Tidal Fences (cont.)
  • Since they do not require flooding of the basin, tidal fences have much less impact on the environment, and are significantly cheaper to install.
  • Unlike barrage generators, tidal fences have the advantage of being able to generate electricity once the initial modules are installed.
  • Since a caisson structure is still required, which can disrupt the movement of large marine animals and shipping, there are still ecological concerns

Tidal Fences (cont.)

  • “A 2.2GW tidal fence using the Davis turbine, was being planned for the San Bernadino Strait in the Philippines to be constructed by the Blue Energy company. The project, estimated to cost $US 2.8 Billion is unfortunately on hold due to political instability”

according to Michael Maser a Blue Energy spokesman.”

Davis Hydro Turbine


tidal lagoons
Tidal Lagoons
  • Tidal lagoons are an adaptation of the barrage system. Similar to standard barrage models, tidal lagoons retain a head pond and generate power via conventional hydro-turbines.
  • The difference is that the conventional barrage designs exploit the natural coast line to minimize barrage length. However, this entails blocking the estuary regardless of how deep it is. This raise the costs considerably.
  • However, a lagoon, for a low cost can pretty much be built anywhere that there is a high tidal range.
  • The lagoon has relatively little visual impact, as it is below the high water tide mark and appears like a normal sea wall at low tide.
tidal lagoons cont
Tidal Lagoons (cont.)
  • The lagoon can be built using loose aggregates found in quarries or demolished structures. This rubble would be ‘dumped’ until an impound wall was complete. As any aggregate can be used, it is possible to restrict construction costs by implementing the cheapest materials available
  • This construction technique also has the added benefit of creating an artificial reef. As well, a calm water lake would be created in the middle where smaller fish and birds could flourish
  • Migrating fish can swim around unimpeded and without the danger of sluices or negotiating turbines.
  • Tidal Electric is planning to test the concept in Swansea Bay with a relatively small 30MW output plant.
  • Design being implemented in China in the future.
  • “The Chinese government has expressed its enthusiastic support of Tidal Electric’s ambitious 300 MW offshore tidal lagoon in the waters near the mouth of the Yalu River by signing an agreement pledging to cooperate with the development. At 300 MW, the project would be the largest tidal power project in the world, topping the capacity of the 240 MW French tidal power plant in LaRance. “
tidal turbines
Tidal Turbines
  • Proposed shortly after the oil crisis of the 1970s, tidal turbines have only become reality in the last decade, when a 10-15kW 'proof of concept' turbine was operated on Loch Linnhe. Resembling a wind turbine, tidal turbines offer significant advantages over barrage and fence tidal systems, including reduced environmental effects.
  • Tidal turbines utilize tidal currents that are moving with velocities of between 2 and 3 m/s (4 to 6 knots) to generate between 4 and 13 kW/m2. Fast moving current (>3 m/s) can cause undue stress on the blades in a similar way that very strong gale force winds can damage traditional wind turbine generators, whilst lower velocities are uneconomic.

Tidal Turbines (cont.)

  • Tidal turbines offer significant advantages over barrage and fence tidal systems (and other renewable energy sources):
  • High energy intensity: A 1MW tidal turbine can access five to ten times as much energy per square meter of rotor than a 1MW wind turbine, resulting in a smaller and potentially lower cost machine.
  • Minimal environmental impact: tidal turbines are visible enough to be avoided by mariners but they have a low visual impact on the seascape, they produce no pollution or noise and their slow moving rotors which turn at less than one revolution in four seconds (15 rpm) are considered unlikely to harm marine life.
  • High energy return on energy invested: tidal turbines should offer faster energy payback than most other renewables.

Tidal Turbines (cont.)

  • ‘SeaFlow,’ a 300 kW prototype turbine was the world’s first offshore tidal turbine and was installed off Lynmouth, Devon in May 2003.

Cost £3.4 million and was funded by a consortium of private companies and the UK and German governments.

future expansion of tidal turbines
Future Expansion of Tidal Turbines
  • Tidal Farms. Sets of up to hundreds of tidal turbines working in conjunction.
  • Potential for giga-watts of power
  • Marine Current Turbine (MCT) created SeaFlow (300kW), is following up with SeaGen (1MW), which will expand to a 5 turbine tidal farm that will provide 5MW.
  • The Norwegian company, Hammerfest Strom, believes that they will have their first tidal farm of over 20 second generation devices operational before the end of 2008. This would be the 3rd phase of their 'Blue Concept' project and would result in a tidal farm that would produce 10MW of renewable electricity.
  • Tidal power is a renewable, potentially zero emission (during operation) energy source.
  • Tides have the advantage of being completely predictable, unlike solar and wind power.
  • Different types of Tidal Generators suit different areas and energy needs.
  • There are environmental concerns that need to be addressed when developing this technology further.
  • RISE – Research Institute for Sustainable Energy


  • Wikipedia



  • http://www.hie.co.uk/aie/tidal_power.html
  • Marrine Current Turbines Ltd.