Tidal technology

Harnessing tidal motion to generate mechanical power has a long history. Tidal basins were being used in Europe to drive mills to grind grain before AD 1100. These plants were only replaced when the Industrial Revolution introduced steam engines and fossil fuel.

The exploitation of tidal ebb and flow to generate electricity has been less well tried. Table 9.1 shows the most important tidal power plants that have been built this century. As this table indicates, the largest is La Rance on the northwest coast of France close to St Malo.

The 240 MW La Rance plant uses specially devised bulb turbines. A small turbine of similar design was bought by Russia during the 1960s, and promptly disappeared from sight. There has since been speculation that the 400 kW project Kislaya Guba represents the final resting place for this turbine.

After La Rance, the second largest project is at Annapolis Royal on the Bay of Fundy in Canada. China has also developed some small-scale projects,

Table 9.1 The world's tidal power plants

Site

Country

Capacity (MW)

Year entered service

Various

China

11.0

195B onwards

La Rance

France

240

1966

Kislaya Guba

Russia

0.4

196B

Jiangxia

China

3.2

19B0

Annapolis

Canada

17.B

19B4

World Energy Council, Modern Power Systems.

World Energy Council, Modern Power Systems.

of which the largest are a 3.2 MW project at Jiangxia and another 5 MW plant. Work on tidal power generation began in China in 1958 and there are thought to be seven projects in operation today with an aggregate capacity of 11 MW.

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