Historically, tide mills have been used both in Europe and on the Atlantic coast of North America. The incoming water was contained in large storage ponds, and as the tide went out, it turned waterwheels that used the mechanical power it produced to mill grain. The earliest occurrences date from the Middle Ages, or even from Roman times. It was only in the 19th century that the process of using falling water and spinning turbines to create electricity was introduced in the U.S. and Europe.
Although not yet widely used, tidal power has potential for future electricity generation. Tides are more predictable than wind energy and solar power. Among sources of renewable energy, tidal power has traditionally suffered from relatively high cost and limited availability of sites with sufficiently high tidal ranges or flow velocities, thus constricting its total availability. However, many recent technological developments and improvements, both in design (e.g. dynamic tidal power, tidal lagoons) and turbine technology (e.g. new axial turbines, cross flow turbines), indicate that the total availability of tidal power may be much higher than previously assumed, and that economic and environmental costs may be brought down to competitive levels.
The world's first large-scale tidal power plant is the Rance Tidal Power Station in France, which became operational in 1966.
What is Tidal Power?
Tidal power is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into useful forms of power, mainly electricity. A tidal generator converts the energy of tidal flows into electricity. Greater tidal variation and higher tidal current velocities can dramatically increase the potential of a site for tidal electricity generation.
A huge dam called a barrage is built across a river estuary. When the tide goes in and out, the water flows through tunnels in the dam. The ebb and flow of the tides can be used to turn a turbine, or it can be used to push air through a pipe, which then turns a turbine. Large lock gates, like the ones used on canals, allow ships to pass.
Because the Earth's tides are ultimately due to gravitational interaction with the Moon and Sun and the Earth's rotation, tidal power is practically inexhaustible and classified as a renewable energy resource.
Advantages of Tidal Power
- Tidal power is a renewable energy sources meaning it cannot be depleted like fossil fuels can.
- Tidal power isthe the most efficient energy sources by having efficiency of approximately 80%, this is a much better efficiency when compared to other more popular renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
- Tides are predictable, and this predictability is also one of the advantages that tidal power has over other energy sources because rise and fall of tides are much more cyclic than random weather patterns. This predictability gives us knowledge of when the tides will be in and out.
- Tidal energy is environmentally friendly and doesn't produce greenhouse gases.
Where does it come from?
Tidal forces are periodic variations in gravitational attraction exerted by celestial bodies. These forces create corresponding motions or currents in the world's oceans. Due to the strong attraction to the oceans, a bulge in the water level is created, causing a temporary increase in sea level. When the sea level is raised, water from the middle of the ocean is forced to move toward the shorelines, creating a tide. This occurrence takes place in an unfailing manner, due to the consistent pattern of the moon's orbit around the earth.
Where is it used?
The biggest tidal power plant in the world is in South Korea. France has the oldest and second biggest tidal power plant in the world and, unfortunately, the only tidal plant in Europe. However, a few large-scale tidal power projects are currently under development - the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project in the UK and the MeyGen tidal array project in Scotland. Tidal power is also used in a number of other countries including Canada.
Why choose a career in Tidal Power?
Tidal power is a new and exciting form of energy generation. At the moment it is still in the developmental stage, but the UK is already the global leader, with the potential to produce 20% of our electricity demand by 2050. With rapid sector development from emerging companies expected, newcomers to this industry will have the opportunity to play a major part. Reasons to join the industry include:
- Tidal energy is still in the development stage however, the technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Due to this advancement, there is now many more tidal jobs opening up and this is only going to increase.
- Choosing a career in tidal energy means working towards a brighter, more sustainable future.
- Emerging and developing technology can be very rewarding and interesting with good potential for career development.
What personnel are in demand? Who should contact us?
Whatever your interests, skills and goals; if you're a graduate, or experienced and transitioning from another sector - there will be an opportunity for you. The range of roles is diverse, with enthusiastic individuals in high demand.
Typically the following personnel can transfer with ease with a little assistance:
Project Managers, Project Engineers, Electrical engineers and designers, Mechanical engineers and designers, Structural engineers and designers, Power Systems Engineers, Offshore Engineers, Facilities Managers, Commercial Officers, Document Controllers, HR Personnel, Admin personnel.
Projects require a variety of skills, with staff employed in everything from research and development, to construction and maintenance. With the rapid growth expected in the next few years it is an exciting time to get involved in the tidal industry.
Talk to us about getting ahead of the game and how we can assist you in your transfer to the tidal power industry
- In most instances no training will be required prior to placement; we will put you in touch with employers happy to engage you with your current skills and qualifications.
- We can advise on training and assist with placing you on a relevant course should training be required.