Tidal power is a form of hydropower that converts the kinetic energy obtained from the tides into useful electricity. Up until now, tidal power projects have been a relatively expensive technology with limited availability of sites with ideal conditions. However, recently there’s been major technological advances in tidal power designs and developments, resulting in costs becoming more competitive. The result has been a more mainstream renewable energy solution. One distinct advantage tidal power has over solar or wind power is that tides are more predictable, as we can expect a low and high tide every day. Such predictability makes it much easier to manage the demand versus supply challenge! Here, we look at the top 5 largest tidal projects around the world, some of them being already active while others remain in the planning phase.
Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, Wales (Tidal Lagoon Power)
The tides off the west coast of Britain are incredibly powerful, making it an ideal location for tidal power plants. Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will be the world's first tidal lagoon power plant. It will consist of a massive 9.5 km U-Shaped breakwater wall to create a tidal lagoon.
Built out from the coast, it will contain 16 hydro-turbines that will push out 320 MW of power four times per aday, in unison with the incoming and outgoing tides.
Rance Tidal Power Station, France (Electricite de France)
Although not new, as the Rance Tidal Power Station was developed over 50 years ago, this was actually the first power station to take advantage of the kinetic energy emanating from tidal water flow in order to produce electricity.
The Rance River estuary was chosen due to its vast tidal range, which provides a maximum generation size of 240 MW. It was the largest Tidal Power Plant in the world until 2011.
Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station, South Korea (Korean Water Resource Corporation)
Currently the world's largest power producing tidal barrage, the Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station is located in South Korea. It houses a 400-meter long tidal power plant and has a maximum output of 254 MW.
It's designed to take advantage of the Yellow Sea’s high tides, and the tidal power plant is equipped with ten bulb-type generator units, each producing 552.7 GWh’s per annum. It took seven years to construct this massive facility at a cost of $1 million per MW.
MeyGen Tidal Stream Project, Scotland (Atlantis Resources)
Scotland recently launched the world's first tidal energy farm. Each individual tidal turbine measures 49-feet-high with blades 52 feet in diameter and each turbine generating 1.5 MW of power.
Initially there are to be 4 turbines installed, but a further 269 are planned, giving the tidal energy farm a total capacity of 398 MW.
Jiangxia Pilot Tidal Power Plant, China (China Guodian Corporation)
The Jiangxia power plant is the largest operating tidal power plant in China, originally developed in 1980. Over the years, however, it has expanded its capacity from an original 500 Kw to 3.9 MW.
The tidal plant is of barrage type and operates in both low and high tides, producing an annual power output of 7 MW/h.