The simplest tidal power plant has a single basin or reservoir formed behind a barrage across a river estuary. More complex designs are possible. The most interesting of these are two-basin designs. A number of two-basin tidal power schemes have been proposed though none has yet been built. The advantage of a two-basin project is that it can generate power either continuously or for a longer period of time than in a single-basin project.
The best-developed project of this type was one proposed for construction near Derby in Western Australia. The project involved building barrages across two adjacent inlets and creating an artificial channel connecting the two basins formed by these barrages. A power station with turbines capable of generating 48 MW was to be stationed on this artificial channel.
Operation of the plant would involve maintaining a high water level in one basin and a low water level in the second. This would be achieved by opening sluice gates in the first barrage when the tide was at its high point and opening gates in the second barrage a low tide. Provided the basins were generously enough sized, water could flow continuously through the artificial channel from the high to the low basin without reducing the head of water between the two basins significantly. Thus power could be generated continuously. Other variations on this scheme are possible.
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