Tidal turbines are very much like underwater windmills except the rotors are driven by consistent, fast-moving currents. Marine current energy is one of the most exciting emerging forms of renewable energy. Marine currents, unlike many other forms of renewable energy, are a consistent source of kinetic energy caused by regular tidal cycles influenced by the phases of the moon.
Wave, tidal and ocean energy technologies are just beginning to reach viability as potential commercial power sources. While just a few small projects currently exist, the technology is advancing rapidly and has huge potential for generating power.
The United States receives 2,100 terawatt-hours of incident wave energy along its coastlines each year, and tapping just one quarter of this potential could produce as much energy as the entire U.S. hydropower system.
According to new analysis, published recently in the journal Renewable Energy, large-scale wave energy systems developed in the Pacific Northwest should be “comparatively steady, dependable and able to be integrated into the overall energy grid at lower costs than some other forms of alternative energy, including wind power.”
Merry believes that France is “poised to take over the global lead” for tidal stream energy, while a number of European maritime countries, as well as Australia, are “moving ahead more successfully than the UK with wave power.”