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Is the Tide Turning for Alternative Energy
Tidal energy is based on tidal movements. Until recently, tidal power was all about building turbines in barrages to generate electricity but times are changing. Today tidal power and tidal energy use large underwater marine turbines to generate renewable energy from tidal currents. These giant underwater windmills convert ocean currents into electricity and at the same time create a clean and sustainable energy source.
Tidal stream turbine power devices are fixed to the seabed and generate electricity directly from the ebb and flow of currents. Similar to wind turbine rotor blades, a tidal turbine creates lift or drag on its blades to convert the kinetic energy of the tidal current into circular motion.
The speed of blade rotation and the resulting shaft torque depend on the design. A turbine output shaft generates power which may include one or more gearboxes connected to an electrical generator. The generator will produce an electrical output that can be controlled by varying the electrical load and is varied to provide the required grid voltage and frequency.
Traditionally, dams or barrages have been built on the beach during high tides or floods, or both, and combined with power generation by low-head hydro turbines. Tide wheels, mills and barrages have been used for hundreds of years to harness the power of the tide to grind flour or pump water.
The maximum velocity of tidal water in the middle of the bay current is about 2m s-1. This corresponds to an energy density of about 0.5pV2 which is equal to about 2kJ m-3 and a power of about 0.5pV3 = 4kW m-2. This power level is sufficient for tidal turbines to convert this flow power into rotary motion to drive generators and generate electricity.
Two types of tidal power devices are used to harness tidal energy (aka “tidal currents”) to generate renewable, pollution-free electricity. These devices are classified as horizontal-axis and vertical-axis turbines, which are characterized by their orientation on the seabed and the rotating shaft that turns a gearbox connected to the turbine with the help of large, slow-moving rotor blades.
Horizontal-axis tidal turbines with three or four blades, similar to wind turbines, convert this kinetic energy into rotational energy on the output shaft by shaping the turbine blades as hydrofoils and creating lift on the rotor blades. The rate of revolutions of the rotor blades (in rev min-1), is the ratio of the rotation period of the rotor circumference, which is given a value as the “tip speed ratio”, TSR. will enter the water. Alternatively, if the tip speed ratio is too small, too much water flows through the turbine without doing useful work on the blades.
Vertical-axis tidal energy devices have many operational advantages over their horizontal cousins. The greatest fact is that all gearing and electrical machinery can be placed above the water line for ease of maintenance and repair. There are three basic types of vertical-axis tidal energy devices based in part on hydropower designs. These are three: the purely drag-based Savonius, the purely lift-based Kobold Crossflow and Darius rotors, and the impulse-based Banky Crossflow rotors.
Another type of tidal current generator design becoming more popular is the bidirectional, ducted, horizontal-axis turbine with a variable-speed, permanent magnet generator attached. Tidal currents are directed through large circular ducts like funnels that increase the capture area of the seawater and accelerate it as it passes the turbine blades. The result is a more efficient design and higher power output than conventional tidal turbines.
Tidal power and even wave power are two ocean-based technologies that have high potential to provide clean, free energy in the future. Tidal energy power systems are expected to be very competitive with other conventional and renewable energy sources once installed. They have excellent cost advantages as there is no pollution or environmental costs. Tidal current or tidal technologies are capable of exploiting and generating renewable energy in many marine environments that exist around the world.
Advantages of tidal power generation include:
- The electricity produced is completely renewable because it relies on tidal currents that are created by the gravitational influence of the Sun and Moon on the world’s oceans.
- While other forms of renewable energy depend on weather conditions that day (eg, wind volume or clear skies), tidal energy is completely predictable, creating a premium value for electricity.
- Since the turbines are located below the surface, they are protected from storm damage and cannot be seen or heard. The design is believed to have no impact on marine mammals because it has no oil that can leak, no exposed blade tips and a significant opening in the middle.
- Because of the density of water, a relatively small turbine can produce the same amount of power as a large wind turbine.
Tidal energy World’s best renewable energy. Tidal power hasn’t been widely used, but as it develops, it could become a very big deal. There are high potential tidal hotspots around the world. The world’s oceans offer a huge potential for power generation projects, and much of this potential remains untapped and waiting to be discovered.
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