As the debates over future energy sources rage on, one method has drawn relatively little public attention – tidal power.
This past Tuesday, the world first floating tidal power plant was launched on the coast of Norway. Known as the Morild 2, it is operated by the Norwegian company Hydra Tidal, the plant is a demonstration prototype, meant to provide the electricity needs for about 250 households.
“There exists a lot of energy in ocean currents, coastal currents, and tidal currents along Norway’s long coastline. We believe it’s possible to harness a significant amount of clean energy from these sources,” said Eivind Nydal, managing director at Hydra Tidal, in an article in the Norway Post.
According to the company’s website, the opening of the new plant is the culmination of 10 years of research and development. They believe this will prove to be a clean and practical method for power production in the future.
The use of tidal power in various ways dates back at least to the Middle Ages, but recent advances in turbine design make the process more practical for electricity production.
The process makes use of the ocean’s tides and currents, and several places in the world have sufficiently strong variations in these to provide the power needed to work the turbines. No mining or drilling is involved, and there are no greenhouse gas emissions.
One survey indicates that 20% of England’s energy needs could be provided by tidal power plants.
Another experimental tidal power station has operated in Canada’s Bay of Fundy for the past few years.