This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 17, 2004

China Supports Plan to Build World's Largest Tidal Power Plant

Tidal Electric, a U.K.-based company, announced in late October that the Chinese government has expressed support for its proposed 300-megawatt tidal power plant in a tidal lagoon near the mouth of the Yalu River. The Yalu River forms part of the border between China and North Korea, and the tidal plant would be on the Chinese side of Korea Bay, west of the river. If built, it will be the world's largest tidal power plant, topping the 240-megawatt plant in LaRance, France. Like existing tidal plants, the proposed Chinese plant would produce power by blocking the tidal flow into and out of the lagoon and forcing the tide to flow through a turbine to produce power. Very few tidal lagoons have the properties necessary for such a power plant.

According to Tidal Energy, Governor Zhang Wenyue of the Liaoning Province traveled to New York City and signed a cooperation agreement with the company, agreeing to provide environmental data, tidal data, and liaison services. The company will use the data to carry out feasibility studies for the project. See the Tidal Energy press release.

While one form of tidal energy is moving ahead, another has been placed on hold: the "Stingray," a device to draw energy from tidal streams, has been put on the shelf by its developer, The Engineering Business, Ltd. (EB). According to EB, despite technical success with the device, the next logical step would be to design and build a 5-megawatt pre-commercial power station, which would cost more than $37 million (20 million pounds). The company concluded that "EB alone cannot fund such a project and after a thorough review has put a hold on future development of Stingray until there are clear indications that this level of investment is likely to yield a satisfactory return." The device uses a wing-like hydroplane, mounted on a hydraulic arm, which oscillates up and down in the tidal flow. In recent tests, a prototype rated at 150 kilowatts generated an average hydraulic power output of 117.5 kilowatts, and EB estimated that a 100-megawatt plant could produce power at a cost of about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (6.7 pence per kilowatt-hour). See the EB news (scroll to the bottom) and the report (PDF 495 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.