Ask Fuzzy: Riding a wave of ocean power

What is Tidal Energy?

Oceans make up 70 per cent of the earth's surface and twice a day, every day, the water level of the sea rises and falls in response to tidal influences, creating powerful and reliable water currents. By harnessing these powerful ocean tidal currents, similar to the way a windmill catches the breeze, renewable energy can be generated.

Scotland's Orkney Islands is home to the preeminent tidal energy centre, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) conducting research and development into tidal energy and supporting infrastructure.

Tidal energy promises to be a reliable, invisible, environmentally benign and affordable source of energy.

Tidal energy promises to be a reliable, invisible, environmentally benign and affordable source of energy.

Located many metres below the ocean's surface, tidal energy turbines are strategically located to maximise the tidal flow to turn the turbine blades and efficiently generate completely green energy.

An example is Orbital Marine Power's floating SR2000 2MW tidal turbine, which produced over of 3 GWh of electricity in its first 12-month test program at EMEC, supplying the equivalent electricity for 830 UK households and, at times, over 25% of the demand of the Orkney Islands from just one prototype device.

Far more electricity is now generated on the islands than is needed. Local cars, busses and ferries are powered by hydrogen using surplus energy via an electrolyser splitting sea water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Australia is home to some of the largest tides in the world, and with tidal energy systems considered to have the highest technical maturity in the marine renewable sector, we have the capacity to make a major contribution to the future energy mix and export potential.

Darwin's tidal energy resources create a significant strategic advantage in the region. Now there's an opportunity at the Darwin research hub to extend the current research programs into tropical conditions typically found in the Asia Pacific region.

Recently ARENA funded a national high-resolution tidal resource assessment and environmental measurements at two promising locations.

Tidal energy promises to be a reliable, invisible, environmentally benign and affordable source of energy. Sites such as the Clarence Strait just outside Darwin can be important in the development of sustainable island and remote communities to our north.

The tidal energy sector is entering a new phase of innovation as companies move rapidly to commercialise and export knowledge. Recognising the potential benefits to Darwin Tenax Energy is led the development of an innovative vision for the developments in Australia.

Response by: Alan Major, Managing Director Tenax Energy

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