Wind Power vs. Tidal Power

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Difference between Wind Power and Tidal Power

The rapidly dwindling supply of fossil fuels and resultant BP oil spill has caused many people to look into alternative fuel sources, and wind power and tidal power are two of the options that have been considered for further study. While both technologies appear to hold a lot of promise for the future, much work and research still has to be done before they can be put to good use. This comparison article shows the relative advantages and disadvantages of each.

Wind Power
Tidal Power

Benefits

The main benefit of wind power and tidal power is that they both utilize essentially free and inexhaustible energy sources. This means that they do not require fossil fuels in order to work. Wind power also has the benefit of not emitting any waste products or greenhouse gases, and the land surrounding the wind generators can still be used for farming crops. In addition, wind farms can serve as tourist attractions of sorts. Wind generators are also ideally suited to the task of providing energy to remote areas. As for tidal power, it may be able to provide a considerable amount of the energy needs of a country. In Great Britain for instance, tidal power can potentially supply up to 20% of the country's energy needs. Tidal power also leaves the surrounding areas free for agricultural use, and unlike wind power it is totally predictable.

How It Works

Wind power basically relies on the wind to power propeller equipped turbines that produce electricity. The more towers are built and the more wind there is, the greater the energy output. Using larger propellers will also increase the amount of energy produced. Tidal power works on he same principle as a hydro-electric plant, although is requires a much bigger dam. The action of the tides either causes a turbine to turn directly, or it may cause air to be pumped through a pipe, generating electricity.

Drawbacks

The main disadvantage of wind power is that the wind isn't always constant, nor is it predictable. Wind power generators are also ideally located on coastal areas, where land is usually more expensive. Other drawbacks to wind power are its noise and adverse effects on television reception. Tidal power isn't any more constant either, and they only function when the tide is flowing. The process of converting tidal power into usable electricity also isn't that easy. In addition, tidal power generators an have a negative effect on the surrounding area’s ecosystem.

Summary

Wind Power

  • Relies on a free resource
  • Needs no fuel
  • No waste or greenhouse gas emissions
  • Preserves land for farm use
  • May serve as a tourist attraction
  • Makes it possible to supply energy to remote areas
  • Isn't always predictable

Tidal Power

  • Relies on a free and abundant energy source
  • May provide enough power to supply a considerable amount of a country's energy needs
  • Converting tidal energy into electrical power isn't easy
  • May adversely affect animal habitats in the area

Which alternative energy source is greener?
  • Wind Power
  • Tidal Power
 
 

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