Stories

Expert Voices

Engineering projects show growing promise for tidal energy

Palestinian academicians of Islamic University of Gaza attend the publicity ceremony of a tidal wave energy project at Gaza Port in Gaza City, Gaza, on April 22, 2018.
Islamic University of Gaza academics attend a publicity ceremony for a wave energy project at Gaza Port in Gaza on April 22, 2018. Photo: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tidal energy has been slow to develop into a reliable form of grid power, but recent demonstration projects suggest that might be changing. If the technology continues to mature, tidal energy could become a significant renewable power source in many countries.

The problem: Although energy developers have long sought ways to exploit ocean tides to generate electricity, few large-scale projects are actually running in the water. That's because operating in the ocean poses a frustratingly difficult engineering problem: Corrosion, biofouling and extreme wave and current forces all contribute to the slow destruction of devices.