Tidal Power Shines Bright
By Murtaza Sariya

The year 2016 saw some major leaps in renewable energy. Norway became one of the first countries in the world to completely run on renewable energy, Spain recorded the highest levels of wind energy, Bhutan became carbon neutral and Germany reaffirmed its mission to produce clean energy. Even USA and China, the world’s biggest polluters, made huge breakthroughs in the solar energy field.

Just before the year ended, Atlantis Resources announced the installation of their first turbine, generating 1.5 MWs (megawatts), at a site that is set to become the world’s largest tidal power generation site. The project is called ‘MeyGen’ and is at Pentland Firth, Scotland. It envisions a full deployment of 400MW by 2020-21.

Three more turbines will be installed, and these four turbines will be used to conduct initial tests to study all aspects of the project, from power generation to laying of the foundation. The company has also partnered with various engineering firms to consult on these specific matters. Atlantis Resources started this project in 2015, installing undersea cables to connect the completed turbines to the onshore control center. Another study that will be conducted is to test the operational capability of the safety and management system of the tidal turbines. The aim of the study will be to test the turbines in the extreme weather conditions of Scotland, which experiences the fiercest tidal phenomenon on the planet.

The turbines installed have three blades (just like wind turbines), a pitching system that controls rotation, and a mechanism to turn the turbine up to 180 degrees to adapt to the changing tides. After the testing and study of the 6MWs installed system, Atlantis Resources will be finishing the rest of the project with funding from the European Commission’s NER 300 fund that was set up for renewable energy and carbon capture projects.

Tidal power generation isn’t as glamorous as solar or wind energy. It is almost like the underdog of the renewable energy group, receiving negligible attention from the media and green energy groups and communities. Perhaps because they are ‘hidden,’ people find it difficult to be impressed by something they cannot see. Besides this, pinpointing an ideal location is very difficult, and lingering safety issues hang over every potential site.

Interestingly, tidal power is much more consistent than either solar or wind power. It isn’t easily disrupted by seasonal changes, and changes can easily be tracked. They also have a very long life. Even after several years, most tidal power turbines are still functional; this could be due to the rigorous quality control involved to make them work seamlessly in their environment.

This project is just the right opportunity for tidal power to grab, and work to its advantage. Tidal power enthusiasts hope to make enough of a mark with this, to get more people involved, and to finally create awareness about the only type of energy that is generated by the gravitational interaction between the earth and the moon.

Image Courtesy: http://www.meygen.com

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