In large parts of the world, people use hydropower to meet their energy needs. A frequently discussed technology are the so-called tidal power plants. These use the water movement of the sea, which results from the ebb and flow, to generate energy.

There are basically two approaches to converting tidal energy from the sea. The first approach is like a dam, where the water is fed into a basin with the high tide and flows out again when the tide goes out. Because of the construction, such power plants are called tidal dams. As it flows out, the water runs through turbines that convert the kinetic energy into electricity. A further development of this type are tidal lagoons that use the natural coastline as a boundary and therefore require only minor interventions in the environment.

The second type of tidal power plant is the current power plant or in-flow tidal power plant. This basically consists of turbines under water, which convert the sea movement into electricity according to the principle of wind turbines.

According to the Federal Association of German Hydroelectric Power Plants, there are only about a hundred locations worldwide that are suitable for the use of tidal dams. In Germany, no such power plant is currently in operation or even planned because the tidal range on our coasts is too low. In addition, the Wadden Sea cannot be developed as a location because it is a national park. There are no suitable current speeds in the North Sea and Baltic Sea for marine current power plants. The construction is therefore currently out of the question in this country.

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Although Germany is unsuitable as a location for such power plants, the technology is in use elsewhere in the world. However, compared to other energy sources, the expansion has made little progress. According to the energy blog en:former, there are only six tidal power plants in operation worldwide. The reason for this is that the buildings represent a major intervention in the environment and are therefore more ecologically questionable than alternative forms of sustainable energy generation. In addition, the construction results in high investment costs. In addition, the sea as a location poses a major challenge for the necessary technologies: the salt water and the constant movement of sediments attack the components and increase the need for maintenance.

Nevertheless, the power plants offer opportunities that other energy sources do not have: A tidal power plant can supply constant electricity without impairing human habitation. The turbines used also have a long service life and high efficiency. Nevertheless, due to the few suitable locations, this type of power plant is usually considered an investment that is hardly worthwhile nowadays.

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