We need a sea change in attitudes towards tidal energy

COP 26 lived up to my expectations of a high profile circus of political platitudes and big policy statements, translating into little meaningful action.

The fact that Putin and Jinping did not attend hamstrung the conference from the very outset. Ultimately, it was pointless to have a globally significant event when two of the most crucial leaders required to attend were not involved.

However, all this shouldn’t be too surprising, as this country has developed a long-standing reputation for its tunnel-visioned approach to renewable energy policy and strategy. You only have to look at the current, ongoing crisis to see this narrow focus in action and its consequence.

Here I should highlight, before I’m shouted off the stage, that I have nothing against offshore wind. Indeed, it’s been a great success and, over the last decade, has been instrumental in helping to decarbonise the grid. However it’s not, and should never be regarded as, the complete story. 

I fear that it has become the easy, go to option over the years as financial risk has decreased and NIMBY-ism has declined around turbine deployment. It has led to a quick fix approach which has meant a lack of investment in other renewable resources and has unwittingly compromised our energy security. 

The big problem with wind, and similarly with solar, is their dependence on optimum weather conditions to operate full stop. As we’ve seen in a particularly crippling live demonstration over the last few weeks, if the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, no energy is generated. This is fine if it’s a day here or there, but when such a situation persists it creates a serious problem. Unfortunately we’ve not found a way to control the weather as yet so we need to look at renewable solutions which are not reliant on the elements to operate.

The good news is that there is a solution that exists, yet it’s one which remains woefully under-explored and under-invested in: Tidal.

With the potential to solve our on-demand electricity needs, tidal energy offers the only credible, perpetual natural resource currently available. Importantly, this type of generation is weather agnostic, relying solely on the rise and fall of the tide and, with the right system in place, can be manipulated to deliver power day-in-day-out 365 days a year. 

From a business perspective, it can, when correctly harnessed, deliver a cheaper, more reliable and, crucially, low carbon, net zero emission form of power generation. 

An ambition to realise this potential, and help provide an answer to our climatic problems, has lead me to develop our own solution: TPGen24. 

In development over the last decade, I have been working with some of the best minds in science, environment and engineering to develop TPGen24, a tidal energy system which produces power 24/7, all year round.

According to current CFD calculations, our technology, which consists of smart-controlled, gated turbines that drive water back and forth within multi-level lagoons, will also independently be able to provide baseload, which is the holy grail of energy

It’s set to be a game-changer, not only for how we start to reverse climate change, but also the way we power and decarbonise society. 

Simple in structure, scalable and with many potential sites worldwide, it is one of a number of exciting innovations emerging to realistically deliver base load levels of clean energy, perpetually.

Further it neatly overcomes wind and solar’s Achilles Heel of intermittency to deliver a solution which will not only help combat ecological destruction, but help society move forward too. 

We ignore these innovative and problem-solving systems at our perils, and I currently lack confidence that tidal will be at the top of the agenda, despite signs our politicians are warming to it. 

As we look to 2022, I hope I’m proved wrong. In a few years’ time, it will be no use looking back about what we might have done, especially when the cure is staring us in the face. 

After all… there’s no Planet B! 

Stuart Murphy, Founder & Inventor, TPGen24