Tidal power – finally some progress?

by | Jul 31, 2021

This week, the BBC reported on the commissioning of a new tidal-powered turbine in Scotland, which promises to deliver 2MW to the local onshore electricity network. The Orbital O2 is claimed to be the world’s most powerful tidal turbine.

Tidal power seems to have been a ‘nearly there’ technology for ever, with France’s Rance tidal power station opening in 1966. Incidentally, Rance claims a 240MW peak output (from 24 turbines), which does undermine the Orbital’s claim to be most powerful, at least in sprit. And, back in the UK, the Bristol Channel / Severn Estuary has had tidal power proposals kicking around since at least 1925, while the nearby tidal lagoon project for Swansea Bay nearly got approved in 2018, but failed at the last hurdle.

The big advantage of tidal power is, of course, its reliability and predictability, but it’s always struggled to be competitive on price.

Maybe its time has come, as a complement to unpredictable wind and solar. Maybe, maybe not. Disappointingly, I think this will be just another false glimmer of hope.