The UK experiences some of the world’s most powerful tides.
What does this mean for its energy grid?
Primarily, it means an opportunity to reduce fossil fuel dependence using tidal energy. It also improves the UK’s energy security, varying its sources of power.
The cherry on the cake? Unlike other renewables, like solar and wind energy, tides are predictable. This means tidal generators can deliver guaranteed power without any alternative power supplies in place.
So, why hasn’t the UK fully shifted to using tidal energy yet?
Tidal power is there for the taking, but the tools to harness it have not yet been developed at the scale needed, according to Dr Amanda Smyth from the University of Oxford.
But there are signs that we will no longer be stuck at sea.
British companies are now making significant progress to harvest the power of the tide.
Several research projects have been set up at the Orkney Islands, 20 miles off Scotland. This location has extreme tidal streams, making it ideal to research tidal power.
One project includes an underwater kite that flies in the water to maximise the speed of rotors’ spin, harvesting energy faster.
A Scottish company called Meygen has planted a series of huge sea turbines on the seafloor that spin as the water flows post.
Another project, the Orbital O2, has two giant turbines moored to the seafloor. Researchers behind the project say it is set to power 2,000 homes.
The ongoing research presents a potential wave of change for the energy grid.
These projects can change the landscape of the UK’s energy sources – impacting our climate and our energy bills.