The Netherlands and China have signed a deal to develop tidal power, a largely under-developed source of renewable energy.
The agreement promises
to investigate a new technology developed by Dutch engineers, known as Dynamic Tidal Power (DTP).
Unlike existing tidal schemes which involve building barrages across estuaries, DTP works by creating a barrier up to 30km straight out from the coastline.
As John Parnell, from Responding to Climate Change, explains:
More traditional tidal schemes involve building barges across estuaries that destroy upstream wetland ecosystems. DTP involves building dams perpendicular to the coast that do not enclose any waters. The tide runs high and low on either side of the dam simultaneously, switching sides with the tidal cycle. Turbines built into the dam turn as the high tide waters flow through to the low tide side.
Tidal power has yet to be widely developed as a source of renewable energy. For a long-time, the world’s largest tidal power plant was the Rance tidal power plant, built in 1960. However, a revert project in South Korea on Lake Shihwa is now said to be able to generate slightly more power.
Chinese officials say they plan to build a test project showcasing the new tidal technology within the next two years.
"If that demonstration proves successful, we will have a solid basis from which to investigate the application of full-scale Dynamic Tidal Power,” said Peng Cheng, deputy director-general of Hydropower and Water Resources Planning and Design General Institute.
The agreement also promises to investigate potential sites along the coastlines of South Korea and the UK, both seen as ideal for this new tidal technology.
The UK has long proposed building a tidal power scheme on the River Severn Estuary
, but recent proposals for a £30bn and 11-mile long barrage, generating 5% of the UK’s electricity needs, have so far failed to get government support.
Parnell says the company believes its coastal barrage system would, at the least, negate many of the planning problems that the Severn Estuary tidal projects have faced.