Here in the UK we are surrounded by the sea, and yet the non-stop tides that are an unending part are seemingly ignored as a source of never ending carbon free cheap energy.
A way of harnessing this resource is an ‘energy island’. This is basically an outer ring, rather like an atoll, but with the inner area sealed off from the surrounding water. The island would use wind power to pump out the water from the inner area and then generate electricity by allowing water from the outer to again enter the inner via electricity generating turbines.
There are already wind turbines in the some offshore UK locations, as indeed there are all around the world, and the spare capacity they generate could, if this type of ‘island’ was constructed around them, mean that the potential energy in the trapped water would be the same as the trapped energy in a battery. Often the criticism levelled against renewable energy, especially wind energy, is that it may not be available at times of need, but with this Dutch system, that perceived problem could be overcome.
An attraction of this concept is that it potentially allows a large amount of new energy storage to be brought online quickly and, compared to nuclear or ‘clean’ coal, cheaply, and most importantly this storage would be along the world's coastlines, where most of the world’s population lives.
The power of the seas and the oceans are the most overlooked of the big renewable energy resources and yet they are there 24hrs a day 365 days a year.