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Tidal power needs new evolving technologies

Tidal power is renewable energy source that converts the energy of tides into electricity. Many areas in the world have constant and predictable tidal resources which can in turn lead to very efficient source of energy. However, tidal power technologies are still in infancy and in need of major evolution in order to become relevant in global energy supply.

Scientists estimate that about 80% of the energy from tides are located in areas of over 40 meters of depth, and this in combination with the current technological development leads to high construction costs. This is why tidal energy sector needs new technologies that are able to operate in areas where it is expensive to install first generation devices such as large structures held to the seabed.

Canada, and some European countries have already started testing first experimental parks based on devices set on the seabed, called of the first generation but lately there has also been talk about systems of the second generation which have anchors and a series of cables that hold the device to the seabed.

The members of the Technological Research Group in Marine Renewable Energy (GITERM) at UPM have developed GESMEY device, patented by the University, which has been the first design worldwide tested in the sea and fit to operate fully submerged.

The main goal of this technology is to reduce as much as possible the production cost of the energy and to make this renewable source both financially and technically competitive. In order to achieve this new systems have to be simpler and far more robust.

Researchers hope to achieve a future successful commercialization of tidal renewable energy devices but they will also need to overcome the intermittency of tidal power because tidal power is capable to produce electricity only during tidal surges which is in average around 10 hours each day.

The potential is there but tidal power technologies will have to stretch far beyond the few experimental projects now and then before tidal power can attract worldwide attention.


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