The UK has the second biggest tides in the world after Canada. Tides are created by the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun on the planet. As this is more predictable than wind and solar, tidal power is a very reliable power source.
Scottish Government’s, Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, 2023 states: “Scotland is the most advanced hub in Europe for the development and deployment of marine energy technologies. Scottish tidal stream energy developers including Simec Atlantis Energy, Orbital Marine Power and Nova Innovation have delivered pioneering projects in Scotland which showcase Scotland’s innovation strength and supply chain capabilities while demonstrating the reliability of tidal energy and taking this proven technology to the cusp of commercialisation.”
Two of the more common systems for capturing energy from tides are:
Tidal Stream generators: use the kinetic energy in moving water to power turbines. With ongoing developments in the technology this system has become more popular as the cost drop and has a lower ecological impact than other tidal options.
Tidal barrage: are very similar to dams which cover the width of an estuary to capture the energy created from high and low tide heights (head) through the moving water.
Due to advancements in technology, tidal energy could generate cheaper power than other more well-known systems such as Nuclear Reactors. Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor for example has cost £25bn to build so far, were as the proposed West Somerset Tidal Range, Bristol Channel would be £10bn. Another important factor to consider is a nuclear reactor lasts 60 years while tidal facilities can last 120 years and have no radioactive waste to be managed on decommissioning.
However there still needs to be more research and development into the long-term issues of adding tidal barriers to costal locations where it can have a negative impact on natural habitats and water quality plus some of the better sites for tidal power generation are in location where there is low demand for electricity. Tidal cycles also do not always align with peak power consumption times.
Using renewable energy such as tidal will help reduce the countries dependency on fossil fuels if implemented with other renewable energy developments, to reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions.
This section provides examples of a research, teaching or innovation taking place at Robert Gordon University and/or The National Subsea Centre, Aberdeen related to this topic.
Pressure differential wave energy device using the RGU wave tank testing facility and CFD modelling to design and optimise the performance of an innovative pressure differential wave energy device. The proposed design can also be used within offshore wind farm or attached to oil platform to supply renewable energy to oil platform.