One of the criticisms often leveled against the various forms of renewable energy sources is an inherent lack of continuity. Whereas a gas or coal-fired plant provides reliable power so long as there is sufficient fuel, solar energy obviously only provides power during the day; wind turbines only operate when there is a sufficient breeze. A part of the solution is efficient and scalable storage capacity, where innovation is occurring at a formidable pace. Another is harnessing a diverse set of renewable energy sources. One particularly promising area is in the form of tidal energy.
Harnessing the reliable, awesome power of the ocean is not a recent idea. Efforts to efficiently turn the reliable ebb and flow of the tide into energy that powers our society have been going on for decades. (Contrary to Fox News ignoramus Bill O’Reilly’s assertion, we can explain it - https://youtu.be/wb3AFMe2OQY?t=110). A more recent concept being trialed involves -- as opposed to terrestrial wind “farms”) -- attaching a limited number of turbines to existing infrastructure, such as port facilities, piers and so on. This may prove more efficient than large scale construction of this kind, although in places like Scotland this is precisely the strategy being pursued. Nevertheless, there are countless suitable sites along the coastline of populated areas, with initial studies (thankfully) showing no noteworthy detrimental impact on marine life.
In discussing efficiency around energy generation, it would be remiss not to point out an often-overlooked fact: did you know that the efficiency of coal-fired power plants, for example, is only around 35%-42%? (See for example: https://www.powermag.com/who-has-the-worlds-most-efficient-coal-power-plant-fleet/; https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/index.php). This is a point you won’t see fossil fuel lobby groups offer too readily in debates.
Another advantage of tidal turbines is the potential for providing the energy needs for remote communities, traditionally reliant on costly diesel generators. For example, with a reliably significant difference in high and low tides in far northern Queensland, Australia, the opportunities for adding tidal energy’s contribution to the mix are clear.
Watch: Tidal Power - How it Works
If we combine all the renewable energy sources at our disposal with more efficient use in homes, businesses and industry, we really can power our world into a clean, green future.