The tidal power plant on the Rains River in Brittany, France, reminds us of the unspecified potential of ocean tides and waves and the production of warm energy.
The plant, opened by Charles de Gaulle in 1966 in La Richards on the west coast, produces about 500 gigawatts of electricity per year – the equivalent of 250,000 of France’s 30 million individual households.
It is the only power plant of its kind in France and one of only two large tidal stations in the world – the second largest since the opening of the Sehwa scheme in South Korea seven years ago.
“The renewable energy of the oceans has enormous global potential, but it is a largely untapped resource,” Simon Neill told the School of Ocean Sciences at the University of Banger in Wales.
Oceans and oceans cover more than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental policy advisory body, ocean electricity represents the smallest share of renewable energy in the world.
Most offshore power projects are in the supply phase, though many decades have passed since mankind first began using the water proposal for power generation in the late 19th century.
Fully rated power source
Electricity production from marine technologies increased only 3 percent last year.
The International Energy Agency estimates that by 2030 it will have to expand by 24 per cent annually to achieve the desired renewable energy targets.
According to the SHF Hydrotechnic Research Institute in France, tidal power has the potential to save 1,250 terawatt-hours of energy annually, up from just one terawatt today – about 0.2 percent of France’s annual consumption.
Neil said he had a clear advantage in being “quite predictable.” Since it does not depend on weather variables such as wind or sunlight, the contribution of tides to the energy mix can be calculated in advance.
The tidal energy creates a basin called volley across the bay or lake by creating a dam-like structure that fills in the next high tide and empties through the turbines as the water recedes.
The main challenge, observers say, is the cost of setting up these structures.
The IEA states that “marine technologies have great potential, but research and development (research and development) requires additional policy support to reduce costs that come with the commissioning of large commercial plants.”
“Serious environmental impact”
An additional drawback is the effect on plant and animal life.
Rance Parage is 750 meters (820 yards) long and 33 meters wide and closes the estuary.
“Tides can change tidal levels in the basin and increase turbidity,” the International Energy Agency said.
The turbine can disrupt the natural circulation of marine animals and disrupt migration patterns.
Antoine Carlyle, a marine ecologist at the French Ephremor Institute, told AFP that at the Rance plant “exchanges between estuaries and the marine environment were completely banned, which had a wide impact on the environment.”
One solution is to build future tidal stations outside sensitive estuarine areas.
Another method that has not been used well and failed to take off despite its low environmental impact: tidal turbines are placed at sea level where there is a strong tide flow.
“There are problems with sealing, corrosion and maintenance on these underwater machines, which adds to the cost of projects,” explains Mark Le Pollock of Ifmer.
Underdevelopment is similarly a technique that attempts to use ocean waves or bulges, temperature variation and osmosis.
“Technological innovation and research through research are key to enhancing ocean energy for maturity,” the IEA said.
“Research should focus on core components and subsystems, simplifying installations to keep costs down.”
Next Monday, the UN climate summit in New York will see governments, business leaders and international organizations discuss ways to make the transition to renewable energy.