Raw incoming tidal power

The tides around Britain are genuine tidal waves - unlike tsunamis, which are called "tidal waves," but are nothing to do with tides. Follow a high tide as it rolls in from the Atlantic. The time of high tide becomes progressively later as we move east up the English channel from the Isles of Scilly to Portsmouth and on to Dover. The crest of the tidal wave progresses up the channel at about 70km/h. (The crest of the wave moves much faster than the water itself, just as ordinary waves on the sea move faster than the water.) Similarly, a high tide moves clockwise round Scotland, rolling down the North Sea from Wick to Berwick and on to Hull at a speed of about 100km/h. These two high tides converge on the Thames Estuary. By coincidence, the Scottish crest arrives about 12 hours later than the crest that came via Dover, so it arrives in near-synchrony with the next high tide via Dover, and London receives the normal two high tides per day.

The power we can extract from tides can never be more than the total power of these tidal waves from the Atlantic. The total power crossing the lines in figure 14.6 has been measured; on average it amounts to 100 kWh per day per person. If we imagine extracting 10% of this incident energy, and if the conversion and transmission processes are 50% efficient, the average power delivered would be 5 kWh per day per person.

This is a tentative first guess, made without specifying any technical

Figure 14.6. The average incoming power of lunar tidal waves crossing these two lines has been measured to be 250 GW. This raw power, shared between 60 million people, is 100 kWh per day per person.

details. Now let's estimate the power that could be delivered by three specific solutions: tide farms, barrages, and offshore tidal lagoons.

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