Renewable Energy Inventory

Ocean Current and Tidal Energy

The rise and fall of the sea where tidal ranges are high provides a source of energy that can be harnessed to generate electricity.

When tides come into the shore, the water can be trapped in reservoirs behind dams. Then when the tide drops, the water behind the dam can be let out just like in a regular hydroelectric power plant.

Completely submerged systems are also available that use tidal currents to provide electricity. In order for the reservoir system to work well, an increase of at least five metres from low tide to high tide is needed. There are only a few places in the world where this tide change occurs. The South Baffin region of Nunavut is one of the world class sites.

Some power plants in different parts of the world are already operating using this method. It is estimated that Nunavut has the potential to build 30,000 MW of generation capacity from projects harnessing tidal energy from 34 sites, while the Northwest Territories could build 35 MW of generation capacity from four sites.

There are, however, significant technical challenges to implementing these emerging technologies in the North, including very harsh ice conditions and isolation.

Photos courtesy of Patrick Kane/Up Here, Dianne Villesèche/www.ravenink.ca and ArcticNet. © 2016 A Northern Vision