Tidal energy, as its name stated, it is a kind of energy generated from the ocean’s tidal streams. Due to the exhaustion of fossil fuels and the rising economic concerns, the development and implementation of renewable energy is accelerating. The global marine energy market size was USD 0.47 billion in 2020 but it is expected to grow to USD 4.41 billion by 2028 with a CAGR of 33.2% in 8 years (Fortune Business Insights, 2022)
One of the main advantages of tidal energy is that it is more predicable compared to other renewable energy such as solar and wind energy (Fortune Business Insights, 2022). This is because that the tidal energy is generated by the interaction of gravitational forces of the moon and the sun leading the rise and fall of the ocean tide, which is stable and predictable. (Fortune Business Insights, 2022).
However, the current challenge that tidal energy is facing cannot be ignored. One of the fundamental challenges is the cost of building and maintaining the facility in the open ocean (Fortune Business Insights, 2022). In addition, to build such a power generator and make it survivable in the ocean brings great engineering challenges as well.
Europe is currently leading the development of tidal power technology. European Union and national governments have invested €3.84 billion into wave and tidal power from 2007 – 2019 (Gelfand, 2022). However, despite the fact that this is already the biggest support globally, it is not enough. For instance, the government funding from UK has helped install 18MW of tidal stream capacity. This figure is 500 times less than the UK’s current offshore wind capacity (Williams, 2021). Researchers from the University of Plymouth illustrated that their study shows that tidal energy can provide 11% of the current electricity demand, which will require a tidal stream capacity of around 11.5GW (Williams, 2021). However, it took the UK offshore wind industry around 20 years to achieve this capacity. This process will need to be accelerated to make tidal power contributes to the net-zero goal.
Despite the many challenges and lack of funding, the potential market of tidal energy is still huge. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) estimates that tidal energy can power more than 20 million average American homes (Gelfand, 2022). The technology development of tidal power is ongoing as well. For example, the tidal barrages are a structure similar to a dam that allows the water levels and flows to be controlled (Fortune Business Insights, 2022). This structure can generate significant more power since it can fill the tidal basins on the incoming tides and empty through an electricity generation system.
In conclusion, although there are challenges such as the lack of funding, the engineering challenges, the location challenges, tidal power still has lots of potentials in commercialization. Even if it will not be the main power source for many countries, tidal power can still contribute significantly to the net-zero goal and a post-carbon economy.
Fortune Business Insights. (February 2022). Wave and Tidal Energy Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis. Retrieved from https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/wave-and-tidal-energy-market-100584
Gelfand, A. (March 13, 2022). Developers Look for ‘Sea Change’ in Tidal Power Development. Retrieved from https://www.theenergymix.com/2022/03/13/developers-look-for-sea-change-in-tidal-power-development/
Williams, A. (November 3, 2021). Tidal Stream Power can Aid Drive for Net-Zero and Generate 11% of UK’s Electricity Demand. Retrieved from https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/tidal-stream-power-can-aid-drive-for-net-zero-and-generate-11-of-uks-electricity-demand