Tide mills on beaches or in ports
In Venice, Italy and the port of Dover, England, the first tide mills appear next to windmills and water mills well before the origin of the tides is revealed by Newton, Laplace and Poincarè’s scientific theories. In these mills, a tank fills at high tide and empties at low tide, which activates the blades.
The relationship between tides and architecture
The bay of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France has the most spectacular tides in Europe. An abbey built and restructured between the X and XVI centuries stands in front of the bay connected by a strip of land. At high tide, the strip is covered and the rock on which it stands becomes an island. Mills powered by the tides proliferate along France’s northern coast.
Mechanical energy from the waves
At the end of the seventeen hundreds, the French engineer and physicist Pierre Simon Girard and his son patent the first device to draw power from swells and convert it into mechanical energy used to help work in the fields.
Light from sea
The French inventor Bochaux-Praceique builds a tool powered by water oscillation to light his home in Royan near Bordeaux.
Exploiting the oscillation of the waves
Japanese ex-naval commander Yoshio Masuda develops a signal buoy powered by an air turbine. The turbine is in a duct where air is sucked in and compressed by the oscillation of the waves. The movement triggers the rotation of the turbine, which powers an electric generator.
A tidal power station
Rance Tidal Power Station is the world’s first tidal stream power station. A long dam crosses the Rance River estuary, where water flows into the ocean through 24 collectors equipped with Kaplan turbines.
The electric duck
Stephen Salter builds the “Salter’s duck”, a device that transforms wave power into electricity. Wave impact rotates inner gyroscopes and a generator converts the rotation into electricity. During small-scale experiments, it harnesses and converts 90% of marine energy into electricity.
In Nauru, Japan, an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant that uses thermal energy generated by temperature differences between the ocean’s surface and its depths sets the first record of generated energy: 120 watts, 90 of which are used to power businesses and a school.
A boost from the European Union
The European Union adds the development of marine energy to its European Community program goals and identifies around 100 sites suited to the purpose.
A hydraulic turbine for the Strait of Messina
Kobold plant is built by the Italian company Ponte di Archimede 200 meters off the coast of the Strait of Messina, one of the most promising sites of those identified by the European Union. It converts the kinetic energy produced by marine currents into high-yield rotary mechanical energy.
Scotland, a marine energy pioneer
As part of the MyGen program, Scotland launches the world’s largest project to install a series of 1.5 MW turbines to draw energy from marine currents.
Electricity from the waves…
The first series of wave power machines is connected to the electric grid as part of the Perth Wave Energy Project, realized in Carnegie, Australia.
… and from the tides
The first series of tidal power machines is connected to the electric grid in Scotland by the Nova Innovation company, who installs 100 kW M100 turbines at Buemull Sound.
An ocean of opportunities
Predictable and calculable
Waves and tides are always present, and their variations are quantifiable for the most part. Calculations on marine energy production are much more accurate.
The large variety of technologies for generating marine energy make it highly adaptable.
Near usage sites
Port and coastal cities are very close to the source and can quickly enjoy the benefits of renewable energy.