Seven Questions About Issues And Challenges In The Tidal Energy You Should Answer Truthfully

Environmental concerns with respect to Tidal Energy

Tidal power can affect marine life. The turbines' rotating blades can accidentally kill swimming sea life. Projects such as the one in Strangford include a safety mechanism that turns off the turbine when marine animals approach. However, this feature causes a major loss in energy because of the amount of marine life that passes through the turbines.

Some fish may avoid the area if threatened by a constantly rotating or noisy object. Marine life is a huge factor when siting tidal power energy generators, and precautions are taken to ensure that as few marine animals as possible are affected by it. The Tethys database provides access to scientific literature and general information on the potential environmental effects of tidal energy.

In terms of global warming potential (i.e. carbon footprint), the impact of tidal power generation technologies ranges between 15 and 37 gCO2-eq/kWhe, with a median value of 23.8 gCO2-eq/kWhe.

This is in line with the impact of other renewables like wind and solar power, and significantly better than fossil-based technologies.

Issues and challenges Tidal turbines

The main environmental concern with tidal energy is associated with blade strike and entanglement of marine organisms as high-speed water increases the risk of organisms being pushed near or through these devices. As with all offshore renewable energies, there is also a concern about how the creation of electromagnetic fields and acoustic outputs may affect marine organisms. Because these devices are in the water, the acoustic output can be greater than those created with offshore wind energy.

Depending on the frequency and amplitude of sound generated by the tidal energy devices, this acoustic output can have varying effects on marine mammals (particularly those who echolocate to communicate and navigate in the marine environment, such as dolphins and whales). Tidal energy removal can also cause environmental concerns such as degrading far-field water quality and disrupting sediment processes.

Depending on the size of the project, these effects can range from small traces of sediment building up near the tidal device to severely affecting nearshore ecosystems and processes.

Issues and challenges Tidal barrage

Installing a barrage may change the shoreline within the bay or estuary, affecting a large ecosystem that depends on tidal flats. Inhibiting the flow of water in and out of the bay, there may also be less flushing of the bay or estuary, causing additional turbidity (suspended solids) and less saltwater, which may result in the death of fish that act as a vital food source to birds and mammals. Migrating fish may also be unable to access breeding streams, and may attempt to pass through the turbines.

The same acoustic concerns apply to tidal barrages. Decreasing shipping accessibility can become a socio-economic issue, though locks can be added to allow slow passage. However, the barrage may improve the local economy by increasing land access as a bridge. Calmer waters may also allow better recreation in the bay or estuary.

In August 2004, a humpback whale swam through the open sluice gate of the Annapolis Royal Generating Station at slack tide, ending up trapped for several days before eventually finding its way out to the Annapolis Basin.

Tidal lagoon

Environmentally, the main concerns are blade strike on fish attempting to enter the lagoon, the acoustic output from turbines, and changes in sedimentation processes. However, all these effects are localized and do not affect the entire estuary or bay.

Corrosion - Issues and challenges

Saltwater causes corrosion in metal parts. It can be difficult to maintain tidal stream generators due to their size and depth in the water. The use of corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steels, high-nickel alloys, copper-nickel alloys, nickel-copper alloys and titanium can greatly reduce, or eliminate corrosion damage. Mechanical fluids, such as lubricants, can leak out, which may be harmful to the marine life nearby. Proper maintenance can minimize the number of harmful chemicals that may enter the environment.

Fouling - Issues and challenges with Tidal Energy

The biological events that happen when placing any structure in an area of high tidal currents and high biological productivity in the ocean will ensure that the structure becomes an ideal substrate for the growth of marine organisms. In the references of the Tidal Current Project at Race Rocks in British Columbia, this is documented.

Also see this page and Several structural materials and coatings were tested by the Lester Pearson College divers to assist Clean Current in reducing fouling on the turbine and other underwater infrastructure.

Cost - Issues and challenges with Tidal Energy

Tidal energy has a high initial cost, which may be one of the reasons why it is not a popular source of renewable energy. The methods of generating electricity from tidal energy are relatively new technology. It is projected that tidal power will be commercially profitable within 2020[needs update] with better technology and larger scales.

Tidal energy is however still very early in the research process and it may be possible to reduce costs in future. The cost-effectiveness varies according to the site of the tidal generators. One indication of cost-effectiveness is the Gibrat ratio, which is the length of the barrage in metres divided by the annual energy production in kilowatt-hours.

As tidal energy is reliable, it can reasonably be predicted how long it will take to pay off the high up-front cost of these generators. Due to the success of a greatly simplified design, the orthogonal turbine offers considerable cost savings. As a result, the production period of each generating unit is reduced, lower metal consumption is needed and technical efficiency is greater.