What is Dynamic Tidal Power?
Dynamic Tidal Power (DTP) is a revolutionary and endlessly sustainable technique that extracts industrial-scale amounts electrical energy from the tidal flows of water in the sea. The tidal force drives a massive wave of water along the coastline twice each day and DTP intercepts the associated kinetic energy flow and puts it to work generating electricity. Dynamic Tidal Power is a radical innovation in sustainable electrical energy production.
When the sun
and the wind
the tide goes on
What is Dynamic Tidal Power?
Dynamic Tidal Power (DTP) is a revolutionary technique for harnessing the ocean’s tides to produce electrical energy.
What is the tide?
The tide is the movement of the water in the sea induced by the rotation of the Earth under the influence of the gravitational attraction of the moon and the sun. The times pf day when the high and low tides occur are different from one place to another. For example, when it’s high tide in Vlissingen it’s low tide in Den Helder – and vice versa.
How does Dynamic Tidal Power work?
Dynamic Tidal Power (DTP) harnesses the tidal ocean currents along the coast. A dam running straight out from the shore impedes these currents, piling the moving water up and creating a water level difference between the upstream and downstream sides of the dam. This hydraulic head drives a powerful flow of water through openings in the dam and generators installed in the openings produce electrical energy (“power” in day-to-day parlance).
Are suitable turbines already available?
Until recently the only hydraulic turbines were designed to work with a high head like those available in hydroelectric dam projects. In the process of developing DTP a primary quest was for a mechanism that could make optimal use of lower heads. The invention of a turbine design that efficiently captures the energy of such an ultra-low head flow and uses it to generate electrical energy is a key breakthrough. This design has been prototyped and tested in the projected operational size. Important in the testing was making sure that the efficiency was the same for flows in either direction. Attention was also given to openings large enough that sea life can pass through.
What does a Dynamic Tidal Power dam look like?
A DTP dam is a T-shaped dam consisting of two parts, one of which runs out to sea perpendicular to the shore, and a second one at the end of the first to prevent spillage around the dam. Although the lengths of the dams are in the order of tens of kilometers, it is noteworthy that no area is closed off. The main dam has a series of evenly-spaced openings with low-head turbines in them, which generate power from the tidal flow.
Is a marine structure on the scale of DTP feasible?
Building a DTP dam is admittedly a big job, but by no means technically challenging. The dike that separates the North Sea from the former Zuiderzee was built nearly a century ago in comparable conditions with similar powerful currents. The DTP dam will consist largely of so-called “caissons” (basically large concrete boxes) which have been in use for many decades in large projects like the “deltawerken”. Offshore construction is a specialism in which the Dutch are internationally renowned.
How much electrical energy can Dynamic Tidal Power produce?
The potential of DTP is enormous. Two appropriately placed installations along the Dutch coastline can produce 15 to 30 percent of Holland’s total energy requirements.
How much time has gone into the development of DTP?
Dynamic Tidal Power as a practical source of energy was conceived in 1996 by two Dutch engineers. The first ten years were spent in proof of concept: confirming that it really works. Subsequently various investigations were done in the Netherlands and in China. The special turbine was developed and refined and business cases were worked out that demonstrate that DTP is both technically and financially achievable.
Why hasn’t DTP been built anywhere?
Part of the reason is because of the technical and scientific complexity of the necessary research, which has involved a lot of time. Add to that the imposing scale of any meaningful demonstration project, with its tens of kilometers of dam construction in the open sea. These factors have impeded the search for investors with the wherewithal and the daring to elevate DTP to the next stage.
What are the benefits of Dynamic Tidal Power?
• High power output: a single installation would produce 15 to 30% of Dutch energy needs.
• Clean and durable: the tide is an inexhaustible and totally non-polluting energy source.
• Reliable: High and low tides can be (and already are) very accurately computed, so that the power production can be predicted with 100% certainty. This predictability makes for trustworthy integration of DTP into the existing network and is beneficial for the transport projections (for electrical energy) that all major players are required to contribute to on an hourly basis. DTP has the potential to function as a base-load provider.
• Multifunctional: DTP can be developed in combination with other infrastructural functions in cost-effective and logistically seamless ways. Some examples: deep-water and/or LNG terminals, defenses against tropical storms and tsunamis, ecological recovery, marine recreation, island-building and links between islands with the mainland. Specific ideas along the Dutch coast might be an offshore island airport, a deep-water harbor, or cooperation with one or more offshore wind parks.
• Long-term: Just like the “Deltawerken”, the DTP installation(s) are permanent, which is to say that the investment will keep on paying for itself for the foreseeable future.
What’s the difference between Dynamic Tidal Power and other sustainable energy sources?
The familiar sources of sustainable energy are wind and solar, both of which have great potential just as DTP does. The Netherlands already extracts a substantial amount of electrical energy from these sources. There is a downside to these sources, however: the wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sun shines brighter on some days than on others – and not at all at night! DTP doesn’t have these limitations. Twice every day the tide comes in and goes back out, as regular as clockwork. That is what makes DTP such an attractive supplement to wind and solar power.
Another great benefit is the minimal maintenance compared with wind power. That is what makes DTP such an attractive supplement to wind and solar power.
What’s the difference between Dynamic Tidal Power and other Tidal Power techniques?
There are other ways to extract energy from the tides. One of these makes use of the difference in water level between low and high tide. By letting a basin fill up as the tide comes in and then closing it off, energy can be recovered by controlled release of the water as the tide goes out. This has been implemented in various places, for example France and Korea. The big drawback with this approach is the substantial ecological damage sustained by the (large) area used as a basin. Another option is to install fan-like turbines (so-called underwater windmills) in locations where natural tidal currents can be exploited. Neither of these methods come close to DTP in terms of yield. They do however have the advantage that they can be realized in gradual increments.
How long does it take for Dynamic Tidal Power to pay for itself?
The payback period for a DTP installation depends on many factors, whereby the hard-to-predict global energy price is the most important. The higher the price, the greater the value of the energy produced, and the sooner the investment is paid off. The other main factor is the height and force of the tidal flow, which varies considerably from one location to another – but is generally a stable factor which can be taken into account when deciding whether to attempt the project in the first place.
At this time the estimated cost of a kilowatt-hour from a DTP-installation is around €0,05 to €0,10. This is somewhat more expensive than the current price of wind or solar power – but for the higher price the customer is also getting more consistently available energy.
What is the estimated working lifetime of a Dynamic Tidal Power installation?
The main components of a DTP installation are the two long dams and the turbines installed in them. The dams are certainly good for a century. The turbines, with their moving parts, are subject to wear and are therefore not expected to last longer than 25 to 50 years. They are, however, relatively easy and inexpensive to replace.
How long will it take to build a Dynamic Tidal Power system?
A DTP-dam is a very large construction project, with its two dams, each being around 30 kilometers in length. That is roughly comparable to the Zuiderzee dike and the time estimate for the construction is 5 to 10 years. The planning and preparation up front are also likely to take 5 to 10 years.