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Get started, planning your tidal energy project with Powersystems

Building a tidal energy generation plant is a comprehensive project that requires teams of specialists to handle the many aspects of the project—from conception and planning to implementation.

Speak with one of our high voltage electrical engineering Tidal Energy Specialists today.

Who to carry out your tidal infrastructure balance of plant contract?

The civil and electrical works are referred to as the Balance of Plant (BOP).  The electrical works are designed and installed by a high voltage specialist contractor like Powersystems.

Experience in the design and installation of high voltage electrical infrastructure has placed Powersystems in a position ideally suited to carryout tidal farm electrical balance of plant contracts, this is all the infrastructure and facilities, encompassing all aspects of the tidal energy project.

Tidal energy is a form of renewable energy that is generated by the tides. Tidal energy can be harnessed in two ways: by harnessing the kinetic energy of the tides or by harnessing the potential energy of the tides. Tidal energy is a reliable source of renewable electricity, and it has the potential to be a major source of renewable energy in the future.

With action to tackle climate change becoming ever more urgent, generating clean electricity is also becoming increasingly important. Powersystems are experienced in delivering renewable energy projects –we’re pleased to be part of the delivery team for the onshore infrastructure for Anglesey marine energy project, Morlais.      

Morlais is the largest UK tidal energy development run by a social enterprise and once constructed it will see clean electricity generated off the coast of Anglesey.

Powersystems are delighted to be part of the onshore infrastructure for Anglesey marine energy project, Morlais.      

Tidal energy scheme electrical infrastructure and what you need to consider?

Powersystems engineers are highly experienced in the design, specification, installation and commissioning of tidal energy generation schemes substations, switchgear, transformers, cable infrastructure, earthing systems and SCADA cabling, enabling the complete installation to be carried out.

Tidal generation infrastructure consists of the below points to be considered in your tidal energy project.

Civil works

Electrical works

Why your tidal energy project is important?

There is no denying the potential of tidal stream energy: capturing the power of the tides using seabed mounted and floating turbines. This technology, being pioneered in the UK, received a significant boost at the end of 2021 when the UK Government announced a dedicated tidal stream allocation under its Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme. This could enable deployment of up to 60 MW of tidal stream capacity in UK waters between 2025 and 2027.

And the recently published British Energy Security Strategy promises rather fiercely to “aggressively explore” tidal and geothermal energy technology.

The opportunity for the UK to lead a global tidal energy market is clear: UK waters hold roughly half of Europe’s tidal stream resource and current tidal technologies from 30 key sites could supply 6 GW of power (enough to power almost 5.6 million homes). Given the tenacity and capability of the tidal industry, we can be confident the UK can now make rapid progress on the journey towards commercialisation and full-scale deployment in UK waters.

Wind and solar power have driven us forward at an incredible pace, enabling our ambitious net-zero targets, but they are not entirely predictable “Tidal can play a key role in complementing wind and solar energy due to its uniqueness of predictability.”

Tidal stream farms are already supplying homes and businesses in some parts of the UK and the electricity they produce is price competitive with diesel, which is proving a revolution for remote and island communities that often rely upon fossil fuel imports for power. By 2030, tidal energy is on track to be cheaper than both nuclear power and fossil fuels, providing clean and sustainable energy around the world.

Tidal energy is never going to be a big player at the global scale in the same way as wind or solar, because only a few parts of the world have strong tides. And unfortunately, it won’t be ready in time to help with the energy price crisis that we face right now.

But for those places with strong tides, including the UK, it has significant prospects, with a global market estimated by some analysts at £130 billion. 

Tidal and wave energy potential to contribute to low-carbon energy

Tides, waves, currents, and offshore wind are emerging sources of energy that have significant potential to contribute to low-carbon energy in many coastal countries.

Climate change is a topic that is high on the policy agenda and attracts substantial media and public interest. Renewable energies like tidal and wave energy are an important part of decarbonising our economy and slowing climate change.

The United Nations 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015, set the global roadmap for achieving sustainable development. It includes SDG 14 on ‘life below water’, which focuses on the sustainability of the oceans.

Oceans and seas, covering around 70 % of the Earth’s surface, are essential to life on our planet for many reasons. They provide habitats for a vast and unique biodiversity, most of which is still unknown. About half of Earth’s oxygen production comes from marine photosynthesisers, such as phytoplankton. Coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves and sea grasses, capture carbon faster and more efficiently than forests. Oceans also have a great capacity to store and redistribute heat, thereby regulating our climate and weather and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Regulated by the moon, tidal stream is 100% predictable and ocean energy can deliver 100 GW of capacity by 2050 –

A sustainable Blue Economy enables society to obtain value from the oceans and coastal regions, whilst respecting their long-term ability to regenerate and endure such activities through the implementation of sustainable practices. The blue economy also includes emerging sectors with great potential for sustainable growth. For example, the EU is not only a leader in the established offshore wind energy sector, but also a frontrunner in the innovative ocean energy sector (i.e. energy from waves, tides, currents or temperature gradients)

Another important initiative in the context of the blue economy and the Green Deal is the offshore renewable energy strategy. It aims to massively increase the electricity production from offshore renewable energy sources, and targets an installed capacity of at least 60 GW offshore wind energy and at least 1 GW ocean energy by 2030, with a view to reaching 300 GW and 40 GW respectively by 2050.

Ocean energy, is mostly in a pre-commercial state, but the outlook is positive, showing great potential especially for wave and tidal energy along the Atlantic coast.

The UK government has set a legally binding target of “Net Zero by 2050” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

How is tidal energy produced?

Tidal energy is produced by the surge of ocean waters during the rise and fall of tides. Tidal energy is a renewable source of energy.

During the 20th century, engineers developed ways to use tidal movement to generate electricity in areas where there is a significant tidal range—the difference in area between high tide and low tide. All methods use special generators to convert tidal energy into electricity.

Tidal energy generators

For most tidal energy generators, turbines are placed in tidal streams. A tidal stream is a fast-flowing body of water created by tides. A turbine is a machine that takes energy from a flow of fluid. That fluid can be air (wind) or liquid (water). Because water is much more dense than air, tidal energy is more powerful than wind energy. Unlike wind, tides are predictable and stable. Where tidal generators are used, they produce a steady, reliable stream of electricity.

Placing turbines in tidal streams is complex, because the machines are large and disrupt the tide they are trying to harness. The environmental impact could be severe, depending on the size of the turbine and the site of the tidal stream. Turbines are most effective in shallow water. This produces more energy and allows ships to navigate around the turbines. A tidal generator’s turbine blades also turn slowly, which helps marine life avoid getting caught in the system.

The world’s first tidal power station was constructed in 2007 at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. The turbines are placed in a narrow strait between the Strangford Lough inlet and the Irish Sea. The tide can move at 4 meters (13 feet) per second across the strait.

Tidal Barage

A tidal barrage is a dam that taps the potential energy generated by the difference in the height of the high tide and the low tide. The gates of the barrages are kept closed when it is high tide. This results in the water accumulating on one side of the dam. As the tide starts falling, the level of the water on the ocean side of the dam falls.  When the difference in height is more than 5 meters, the dam is opened. This allows the water to flow through the turbines to the lower side. This sudden movement of water rotates the turbines, which generates electricity. The barrages can generate electricity about 4 times a day due to the two falling and two rising tides.

The tidal power plant at the Rance River estuary in Brittany, France, uses a barrage. It was built in 1966 and is still functioning. The plant uses two sources of energy: tidal energy from the English Channel and river current energy from the Rance River.

Tidal stream

These can be regarded as the windmills of the sea since, instead of air, they rely on water currents.  The underwater turbines are anchored to the sea bed. These systems exploit the kinetic energy from the water to drive the blades of the rotor.

The blades of these rotors are stronger and smaller than those of conventional windmills. This enables them to endure extreme pressure underwater. Tidal streams are gaining popularity, as they are cheaper to set up and maintain. The blades are equipped with a functionality that enables them to change direction according to the flow of current. This tidal stream technology is suitable in areas where the water currents are strong.

Tidal lagoon

A tidal lagoon is a body of ocean water that is partly enclosed by a natural or manmade barrier. Tidal lagoons might also be estuaries and have freshwater emptying into them.

A tidal energy generator using tidal lagoons would function much like a barrage. Unlike barrages, however, tidal lagoons can be constructed along the natural coastline. A tidal lagoon power plant could also generate continuous power. The turbines work as the lagoon is filling and emptying.

Although tidal energy is extremely reliable and clean, implementing it has its fair share of challenges, including high construction costs, disruption of local ecosystems and frequent required maintenance. 


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