The Future Wave: Tidal Energy

Event Date: 

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 12:00am

Event Date Details: 

Further Reading

Ko, Yekang and Derek K. Schubert, "South Korea’s Plans for Tidal Power: When a “Green” Solution Creates More Problems” NAPSNet Special Reports. November 29,2011.

Shankleman, Jessica. “The World's 10 Biggest Tidal Power Projects" Business Green. 7 November 2014.

Rance tidal power plant

Rance tidal power plant


By Jesse Sandoval

As one of the newest emerging forms of renewable energy, tidal energy has established itself as a viable source around the world. Currently, the world needs clean renewable energy but there are barriers to obtaining tidal energy, as it may pose a threat to marine ecosystems.

If implemented correctly, tidal energy is a nonrenewable resource that can be utilized in California. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stood at the forefront of tidal energy concerns against the California Energy Commission (CEC). The NOAA, the opposer of tidal energy, has urged policymakers to halt the production of tidal energy on the California coastline due to the possible risks of its effects.

I share the NOAA’s concerns about the well-being of marine species; however, tidal energy in California should not be entirely abolished solely because of these potential outcomes. For instance, California policy-makers should implement tidal energy technology off the coast line so long as it is done correctly. The assumptions of tidal energy are that if it is produced on California coastlines, marine species within the near ecosystem will be negatively affected but it is difficult to find definite proof since each site is unique to its own surroundings.

The NOAA and the CEC should focus on the success of countries, such as South Korea, who have experienced great success with the production of tidal energy as a direct result of the substantial amounts produced. When you look at the amount of energy produced by tidal energy in other parts of the world, the power of the wave cannot be ignored. According to Jessica Shankleman of Business Green, South Korea’s Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station produces 254 Megawatts, which is equivalent to 1,000kw.

South Korea is currently building two more tidal energy plants that will have the capacity of providing an additional 1,840 Megawatts to the country. NOAA and the CEC should analyze South Korea’s success and failures of tidal energy, especially in how they deal with possible ecological effects from tidal power stations. This will determine if the amount of power produced is worth its potential risks.

Yekang Ko and Derek K. Schubert of Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability mention in their report “South Korea’s Plans for Tidal Power,” that the Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station alone can power up to 53,000 homes. However, this did not come without effects to their ecosystem. South Korea’s power station has had ecological issues, such as decreasing amounts of fish living close to the power plant (Ko and Schubert).

I recommend that policy makers should wait and build off South Korea’s mistakes, one of which being their hastiness to build these massive power plants. The controversy between tidal energy plants and ecosystems is very complex and needs to be solved carefully and deliberately.

Personally, after researching tidal energy and seeing how much clean energy it can produce, I believe it can be a great source of energy in California. The issue associated with the effects on the ecosystem is the biggest barrier to moving forward. I strongly believe within the next five years, data will show its benefits and newer technology will be established to handle the ecosystem’s concerns.

Today’s energy decisions on the implantation of tidal energy is not simple in any way; thus, a single solution cannot solve this issue, but cooperation between NOAA and the CEC can create a solution that satisfies both parties. One plant on the Northern California coastline can be a precursor to more tidal energy plants in California. This will help with the production of energy and construction could be done in an eco-friendly way, resulting in minimal effects on marine ecosystems. The key here is to find new technology and avenues to make this all possible.

In conclusion, the issue cannot be solved overnight. NOAA and the CEC have been going back forth on the issue for the past decade. With technological advances in the last two decades, the world population continuing to grow, and the exhaustion of Earth’s resources, the world must find a way to obtain clean energy. This essay demonstrates that tidal energy stands as a strong candidate as a solution for a new renewable energy source in the United States.

The key to this issue is that the U.S. will need to wait until the correct technology has been found to execute the implementation of tidal energy correctly. The investment for tidal energy in California should be comparable to the investments made in South Korea, due to similar sizes in population. Tidal energy is the future of clean renewable energy and I see it as an adequate alternative for the coastal state of California.