Hydropower plants use the force of moving water to generate electricity. The water is used to turn blades in a turbine which in turn spins a generator to produce electricity. Hydropower comes from the Greek word “hydro”, which means “water” – a source of energy we have been benefiting from for centuries.
A typical hydropower system has three parts: a power plant where the electricity is produced, a dam to control the flow of water and a reservoir for storing water.
We can also generate electricity using the energy created by the waves and tides in our seas. Tidal energy is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into electricity. The UK is estimated to produce around 80% of Europe’s tidal energy resource.
Tides are among the most efficient energy sources as they are highly predictable – their natural and regular fall and rise is substantially more cyclical than the comparative randomness of weather patterns. At larger scales, the harnessing of tidal power will result in better energy security, leading to a decrease in the need for imported fuel; and the methods of tidal energy capture – in the shape of modest dams and barrages – can be multitasked to act as coastal storm protection.
In the latest BEIS Public Attitudes tracker, wave and tidal energy enjoys high levels of support with 80% of the British public in favour of these renewable technologies.