Now renewable energy sources come in various forms and make great pollution alternatives to coal and other exhaustive resources. Now scientists have been looking for all sorts of alternatives and creativity is often more valued than analytical solutions. Our great oceans store vast amounts of energy in the form of heat(anyone remember that water has the highest specific heat capacity?) mechanical (think thousands of gallons of moving water and the momentum it possesses!) as well as chemical energy (water has a lot of energy in those bonds between hydrogen and oxygen).
Some forms of utilizing tidal energy
1) Wave energy
Here the moving energy of waves is utilized. As can be seen from the figure the moving energy of the waves forces air out of the turbine when it is moving up and forcing air into the turbine when it is moving down. Hence this movement of air can be used to turn turbines . It creates a small source of power but nevertheless it is used in coastal areas for powering small lighthouses and other small electrical equipment.
Sometimes the motion of the wave itself can be used to power a piston to move up and down which in turn can turn a generator.
Tidal energy is the real current practical source of energy. It uses the tides to store water during high tide and then during low tide the water is released just like a hydroelectric power dam. It’s really simple but the problem is that the tides need to rise really high in order to make it work effectively.
However India’s own coastal lines are quite suitable for this sort of energy and some our IITs are working on making tidal energy a viable source of energy to provide the coastal needs of power.
3) Ocean thermal energy
There is a vast difference in the temperatures of the surface of the ocean and the bottom of the ocean. This temperature difference itself can be used to produce electricity.
Now normally one would assume this electricity produced to be of very poor voltage.(In the seebeck effect about 500 degrees celsius produces about 500 mV).
Hence it has not gained much popularity as an alternative energy source.
Now don’t be so quick to cutting out Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion(OTEC). Ocean thermal energy can be used to generate electricity in new ways it seems again thanks to the potential boundless limits of nanotechnology. It seems scientists have found new ways to harness the heat to generate electricity.
Over time if this new technology could be developed to harness the temperature difference between the surface of the ocean and it’s bottom there could be potentially boundless limits since it could also use the temperatures found in factories, automobiles, deserts(think of deserts as giant energy batteries or so that’s what i think.)
Another interesting phenomenon about tidal energy is that it is not a solar based energy source(most of our energy sources are solar based directly or indirectly) but it is actually based on the lunar force of attraction. So it seems that using the moon as a potential energy source is by itself quite an innovative idea…don’t you think?