[Letters] An outstanding source of clean tidal energyThere are three methods of marine-energy generation using the flow and waves of the ocean. Wave power is energy generated by ocean surface waves, and marine-current power is obtained by using ocean currents’ kinetic energy. Tidal power is generated by using different levels of sea water from tides.
The wave-power generation is still in its early stage. England built the first successful wave farm and a 2.25 megawatt power generating facility off the coast of Portugal in 2008. Korea plans to construct a 500 kilowatt wave-power station on Chagwi Island, Jeju, with a goal to begin producing electricity by 2012.
Electricity is generated from marine currents with underwater turbines. While it is one of the less environmentally invasive methods, power generation is a challenge if the current speed is consistently fast. The U.K.-based Marine Current Turbines successfully installed two 1.2 megawatt turbines to generate electricity using marine ocean currents. It took more than two years for Verdant Power of the United States to build six hydraulic turbines under the East River in New York City to provide electricity to nearby businesses. In December 2008, Korea installed two turbines in the Uldolmok Strait in Jindo County, South Jeolla, which are under pilot operation at present. Tidal power generates electricity from the kinetic energy of the water level difference between the rising tide that flows into a dam and the ebbing tide released from it. France was the first to build a tidal power facility. The Rance Tidal Power Station has been operating since 1967. Korea, too, is incorporating various technologies to enhance tidal power generation. The Lake Sihwa Tidal Power Station, which is to be completed in June, can generate 254 megawatts, the largest capacity in the world. The Garorim Bay, Incheon Bay and Ganghwa tidal stations are waiting for approval.
Many futurists predict that the 21st century will be an age of the oceans. Tidal power generates a large amount of energy in a predictable and consistent manner. Moreover, it is an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative that generates little pollution. The Yellow Sea’s tidal height differences are considered the best for developing this energy in the world. While Korea has gotten off to a late start, developed countries are dominating and monopolizing proprietary technologies. U.S. President Barack Obama predicted that the country that has advanced energy technology will lead the world in the 21st century. Korea wants to keep in mind that we have an outstanding source of clean tidal energy.
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a principal research scientist at the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute