A Complete Guide to Marine Energy: What You Should Know

Since everything that moves is energy, marine energy represents another form of renewable energy. Rive currents, ocean waves and tides contain kinetic energy. We can use this energy to drive turbines and generate electricity. In this way, we limit our need for using fossil fuels. Furthermore, the difference in temperature and salt levels in bodies of water can also create dynamic forces. Therefore, we can also use these to generate power. As long as the tides continue to ebb and flow, these forms of marine energy will continue to exist.

How does tidal power work?

During a cycle of 24 hours, the ocean level increases until it reaches its highest point twice per day. It also recedes to touch its lowest level twice a day. The cycle between low tide and high tide takes place over a period of six hours. Our planet has tides due to the gravitational forces of the Sun and the Moon and the size of the Earth. The part of the Earth which faces the moon is clearly closer to it than the opposite part. If you are wondering how closer this is, the answer is 6,370km.

Scientists indicate that the gravitational force of the moon on the edge that faces the moon is 3.4% stronger than the gravitational force at the center of our planet. Moreover, the force of gravity on the opposing side is 3.2% weaker compared to the force of gravity at the center of the Earth. The difference in gravitation for the opposing side, center, and the closest edge triggers tidal forces.

Due to the effect of the gravitational forces of the moon, our planet tends to become flattered at the poles, stretching at the farthest and the nearest points. Our planet is covered in 71% water, and it is highly susceptible to the gravitational forces of the moon, changing its shape. High tides occur when the Earth passes through the side farthest from the moon and the one closest to it. On the other hand, low tides occur during moonset and moonrise.

The benefits of using marine energy

Marine energy offers economic opportunities

For instance, in Nova Scotia, the tidal energy could bring $1.7 billion to the gross domestic product by 2040. Furthermore, this can develop more than 22,000 full-time jobs. The study commissioned by the Offshore Energy Research Association of Nova Scotia (OERA) also indicates that it can generate as much as $815 million in labor income.

Since this project has started, Cape Sharp Tidal offered $33 million in local procurement contracts to several companies like Atlantic Towing, Lengkeek Vessel Engineering, Aecon Group and Hawboldt Industries.

Tides hitting rocks and cliffs at the shore

Marine energy is a renewable source of energy, powering homes and businesses.

Renewable energy

Tides occur due to the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun and Earth’s rotation, triggering ocean waters to move. This generates energy and force which be transformed into electricity. Generally, tidal energy projects offer long-term stability because what fuels them is completely free and it does not depend on weather patterns or other external factors. The tides will continue flowing forever.

Zero emissions and no fuel

Unlike fossil fuels, marine energy does not emit any greenhouse gas emissions which can pollute the atmosphere and boost global warming effects. Tidal energy produces green and renewable energy that powers businesses and homes. When producing power from the natural flow of the tides, we also reduce our impact on the environment. The level of greenhouse gas emissions is under control, and humans’ contribution to climate change diminishes. Hence, tidal energy contributes to a healthier, cleaner environment.

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Huge potential

The Marine Renewable Energy Strategy of the Government in Nova Scotia approved up to 300 megawatts of in-stream tidal energy. In order to get to this point, they will rely on adaptive management principles to make sure industry development occurs responsibly and safely. The Bay of Fundy is known to have the greatest tidal range in the world. It flows 160 billion tons of water in and out of its passage twice a day.

The huge amount of force surpasses the combined flow of all the rivers in the world. The Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy registers a flow of five meters per second at Canada’s leading test site for tidal energy.

How is marine energy generated?

Specialists harness tidal power by using the help of various technologies. Wave energy resources are abundant between 30 and 60 degrees latitude. Statistics indicate that the coasts of the United States get 2,100 terawatt-hours of incident wave power every year. There are four types of tidal power technologies which can be used.

Tidal barrages leverage the potential energy from the difference in height between low tides and high tides. Specialists have strategically placed specialized dams to capture tidal power. During low tide, water recedes, and the potential energy which is captured turns into mechanical energy. During high tide, the water that overflows gathers into a large basin located behind the dam.

Dynamic tidal power is an experimental technology which still has to be put into practice. This technology proposes the development of long dams directly from coasts and into the sea. Specialist introduces phase differences across the dam to capture tidal power.

Tidal lagoons are more advanced design option which can capture tidal power. Experts develop circular retaining walls embedded with turbines to capture the potential energy of ocean water. They do not rely on pre-existing ecosystems, and they are 100% artificial.

Tidal stream generators utilize the kinetic energy of the moving water to power turbines. This technology is similar to the one used to power wind turbines. Furthermore, this is a convenient solution to capture tidal power since the generators can be built into existing structure.

Summing up

Marine energy could be of great use, especially now when the levels of greenhouse gas emissions increase pollution levels. Marine energy is a renewable source of energy that uses the force of tides. If more countries which are situated by the sea implement this technology, then we will be able to diminish the amount of pollution due to fossil fuels and cut down on climate change effects.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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