India boasts of 7,500 kilometres long coastline, being one of the 20 places worldwide where the height of the high tide is over five metres higher than the low tide to capture the tidal power potential. But there are no tidal energy-based power plants in India yet. Why is this the case?
India has been looking at generating electricity via tidal power since the 1980s. There were project reports prepared for harnessing this energy from the Panchapada River in Odisha and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy made an assessment of the potential of tidal energy in India, it is estimated that the country can produce 7000 MW of power in the Gulf of Khambhat in Gujarat, 1200 MW of power in the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat and about 100 MW of power in the Gangetic delta of Sunderbans in West Bengal.
What Has Been Done Till Date?
It was the Durgaduani Creek, 3.75 MW power plant which caught national attention, was conceived in 1997. In April 2013, it was announced that the project was going to be abandoned due to project cost escalations, despite the Ministry of Non-Conventional and Renewable Energy providing 90 percent of the project costs.
In 2011, there was an announcement that a tidal power plant was under consideration in the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat. With an initial capacity of 50 MW, it was to be expanded to 200 MW eventually. In 2016, there was news that the Government would tie up with an Israeli firm to set up tidal power plants in Goa. Mr Nitin Gadkari, the minister of Shipping, quoted to have said ““Since last two years, I have been constantly pursuing whether we can generate power using tidal waves in the sea. Today, I came to know that we can start experimenting this by using Israeli technology which will help generate power using tidal waves.”
What is happening worldwide?
Globally there are only four countries which have tapped the tidal energy and are generating power through tidal energy. The first country to start generating electricity using tidal energy was France, that began the La Rance Tidal plant in 1966. The Shiwa Lake Tidal plant in South Korea is the largest tidal power plant in operation with a capacity of 254 MW. The other places where tidal power is used to generate electricity include Canada (20 MW), China (3.2 MW) and Russia (0.4 MW).
Disadvantages of Tidal Energy
Since the tidal energy is dependent on the movement of the tides, there is no consistent generation of electricity. Additionally, tidal power plants are very expensive to install, the environmental impact of these plants needs to be considered before installation. Often installation of tidal power plants leads to alterations in the ecosystem and affect natural cycles like fish migration.
India Lacks a Tidal Energy Policy
It is surprising that a country so well endowed with the potential of tidal energy, India does not have a tidal energy policy in place. It becomes critical to have a strong policy in place to have clarity on the commercial development as well as the tariff of the power generated through a particular type of energy source. A strong policy would be the first step towards generating interest among developers and getting the right focus towards development of tidal energy as an electricity source.
Though India has a potential to develop more than 8000 MW of electricity via tidal power, it is important to note that the projects which were planned earlier were abandoned due to high capital costs. Before looking at this renewable source of energy, India needs to consider factors like the environmental impact of these projects on the ecosystem, the transmission requirements of the electricity from coastal regions to the populated central part of the country as well as set in place a strong tidal energy policy to attract investors to projects.