Tidal power generation systems are a proven technology for producing electrical power. The La Rance Tidal electric power plant in France was the first successful medium scale experimental plant. Completed in 1966, the plant has produced 240Megawatts (MW) reliably and inexpensively.
The La Rance project uses a dam across the inlet of a tidal estuary to channel the changing tidal flow across its turbines. This method proved effective, but damming a large portion of the world tidal estuaries would create marine transportation and environmental issues. A new technology is friendlier to the environment and shipping industry.
The Archimedes Wave Swing (AWS) generation system is a remarkable simple and elegant solution to tidal power generation. Floating generation units are submerged and tethered to the ocean floor in areas were they are not a hazard to navigation. Wave action powers the units by alternately forcing down and releasing the floater unit. The floater unit is the only moving part involved in the process. The energy is produced by the float assembly’s motion relative to the uniquely design linear generator in the unit.
In areas of the ocean that have typically high wave action will be a perfect location for tidal power generation using the AWS. For simplicity, in 18-foot seas at the wave crest, the AWS unit would be at maximum extension. At the wave valley, the unit would be at minimum extension. The unit would be exposed to seas of this height the units would provided maximum output power. Areas of desirable average wave action are typically in the temperate latitude from 40 to 60 degrees north and south of the equator.
Each AWS unit is currently rated at 1.2 Megawatts equal to the electrical demand of approximately 500 households energy farms with 50 AWS units would produce an enormous amount of power in a small footprint. This footprint is roughly one third of the area required by current wind and solar power generation requirements
The developers of the AWS units, AWS Ocean Energy, are proposing the installation of the units in relative close proximity of land to reduce the cost of installation, maintenance and power loss in the underwater cable delivering electricity to the local power grid. One of the primary concerns of potential users of the AWS technology is finding suitable locations and obtaining lease rights for the areas where the tidal energy farms are to be located.
Trying to be a future thinker, I predict that these units will primarily be used for the production of hydrogen gas in offshore fuel farms. In this application, more remote areas of the ocean can be used to produce energy. Green minded investors might want to start researching this technology.
Special thanks to Amanda with AWS Ocean Energy LTD. for the additional information.