Huge machine harnesses the tides
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Energy is everywhere. It’s in the Sunlight. It’s in the wind. It’s in the ocean.
The ocean has heat energy from soaking up the light energy of the Sun. And, like the wind, the ocean has energy of motion in the form of waves and currents.
Another form of energy in the ocean is tidal energy. The energy for Earth’s tides comes mostly from the Moon’s gravity and a little from the Sun’s gravity. The part of the ocean facing the Moon bulges out. The part of the ocean on exactly the opposite side of Earth bulges out too. So as Earth turns, the ocean surface seems to rise and fall. Usually, there are two high tides and two low tides each day. Learn more about tides.
With all that water moving up and down, we ought to be able to capture some of that tidal energy. And we can! We can use tidal energy to supply electricity to our homes and businesses. We can use tidal energy in some places instead of burning coal and oil that contribute to global warming.
Tidal generators (or turbines) work like wind turbines, except it is ocean currents, not wind, that turns them. The spinning turbine is connected to another device that produces electricity. The electricity then travels through wires to a city where people need it.
Now the world’s biggest tidal energy generator is being placed off the coast of Invergordon, Scotland.The new tidal generator in Scotland is huge. The turbine blades are 18 meters (59 feet) across. It weighs 143 tons (286,600 pounds) and stands 22.5 meters (almost 74 feet) high. It is capable of generating enough electricity to power more than 1,000 homes.
It is important to put tidal generators near where people actually live. That’s another reason Scotland and other locations around the United Kingdom are ideal for capturing clean, renewable tidal energy.
In the U.S., most of the tidal energy resources are along the coast of Alaska where populations are small. Still, tidal energy could power their small cities.
Unlike the wind, the tides are very predictable. So it’s easy to decide where to put tidal turbines and figure out how much energy they will generate.
Another plus, the turbines are usually completely under water, so no one can complain about them spoiling the view!