Categories of Tidal Power

Tidal power can be classified into two main types:

  • Tidal stream systems make use of the kinetic energy of moving water to power turbines, in a similar way to windmills that use moving air. This method is gaining in popularity because of the lower cost and lower ecological impact compared to barrages.
  • Barrages make use of the potential energy in the difference in height (or head) between high and low tides. Barrages suffer from very high civil infrastructure costs, a worldwide shortage of viable sites, and environmental issues.

Modern advances in turbine technology may eventually see large amounts of power generated from the ocean, especially tidal currents using the tidal stream designs but also from the major thermal current systems such as the Gulf Stream, which is covered by the more general term marine current power. Tidal stream turbines may be arrayed in high-velocity areas where natural tidal current flows are concentrated such as the west and east coasts of Canada, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Bosporus, and numerous sites in south east Asia and Australia. Such flows occur almost anywhere where there are entrances to bays and rivers, or between land masses where water currents are concentrated.


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