To establish which energy source is best, we use six key metrics. Specifically, these are energy price, life span, energy generated […]
Tidal streams are underwater turbines that take advantage of the fast-moving sea currents that occur when the tides rise and fall.3 The energy generated by the turbines is then transferred back to the land via underwater cables. Available in a variety of forms, the most common is a multi-blade turbine, not too dissimilar to an onshore wind turbine.4 However, because water is some 800 times denser than air,5 a 15-metre-diameter tidal stream turbine can generate as much electricity as a 60-metre-diameter wind turbine.6 Furthermore, if the tidal stream turbines are able to swivel, they can capture energy both as the tide comes in, and as it goes out.7 To allow for safe maintenance, both the turbine and the generator can be mechanically lifted above the water.8 To date, no large-scale tidal stream arrays have been constructed, but a number of schemes are under construction including one in Scotland that, when finished, will have 269 tidal stream turbines.9 Together, they are expected to generate enough energy to power 175,000 homes.10 Unfortunately though, it is estimated that tidal streams can only supply 1% of the world’s energy demand.11 As such, although they have some relevance, they cannot be considered a global solution.
If we pretend that the UK is a shallow sea flowing at around 1.5 metres per second, some 12% of the area of the country would have to be covered with tidal streams to meet the country’s energy demand.18
To be completed.
Tidal streams are best located in areas of strong tidal movement.19 This can be found along small streches of the world’s coastlines and particularly in areas that funnel or capture large expanses of the ocean.
|¢18/KWH20Based on a predicted 2035 price inclusive of accelerated cost reduction. Sourced from The Carbon Trust – ‘Accelerating Marine Energy’ – Page 36.21||20 Years22Douglas et al. – ‘Life Cycle Assessment of the Seagen Marine Current Turbine’ – Page 3.23||53 GWH24Based on six Watts of energy being generated per square metre. Sourced from MacKay, David J.C. – ‘Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air’ – Page 84.25|
|Energy Price||Life Span||per KM² per Year|
|20 Years26Calculation undertaken within the ‘Renewable Solution’ section of the ‘ZERO-FIFTY World Energy Database’ and based on a lifespan of 20 years. Lifespan sourced from The Carbon Trust – ‘Accelerating Marine Energy’ – Page 14.27||8 Months28Douglas et al. – ‘Life Cycle Assessment of the Seagen Marine Current Turbine’ – Page 11.29||0.8 PWH30Ocean Energy Systems – ‘2013 Annual Report’ – Page 36.31|
|Economic Offset||Energy Offset||World Potential|
|Value for Money|||||★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Reliability|||||★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Eco-friendliness|||||★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Global Potential|||||★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Overall|||||★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
To be completed.
Title image created by and copyrighted to Siemens.
United States map created by SUPER RADICAL.
Image of underwater turbines created by and copyrighted to Siemens.
World map created by SUPER RADICAL. World map based loosely on all coastlines not covered by ice that benefit from a tidal range greater than four metres. Tidal range sourced from Commonwealth of Australia, Bureau of Meteorology – ‘Tidal Range’ – Map. Areas of ice cover sourced from Koistinen, Ville – ‘The Main Biomes in the World’ – commons.wikimedia.org.
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