You might know about solar, wind and hydro power, but have you heard of tidal power? If not, it’s the idea that energy can be converted from the rise and fall of the ocean into electricity. Some say it’s an effective way of producing power because the tides are more predictable than solar or wind power. Also, because tidal power generators are installed underwater, it takes up less land space (and won’t block anyone’s precious view).
There are only two commercial tidal power plants in the world (in France and Canada), but now, the United States might get one of our own. Think Progress reports that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given license to Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County, Washington to install two 20-feet underwater turbines on the floor of the Admiralty Inlet near Seattle. Over the next decade, the utility company plans to study the effectiveness of generating commercial power from the ocean and whether or not it harms the environment.
There are a few issues, of course. As Think Progress notes, each turbine produces 300 kilowatts of power, which almost nothing compared to the 454,000 kilowatts that the nearby wind farm at Walla Walla produces. Also, because this technology is new, it’s incredibly expensive.
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If you think about it, though, solar and wind power were once considered crazy ideas, but now they are the country’s fastest-growing and money-saving sources of energy. Last we checked, the United States still has an unhealthy and unsustainable dependence on fossil fuels, and it takes bright ideas like this to move the country forward.
Cheryl LaFleur, FERC’s acting chairman, has praised the Admiralty Inlet Project as “an innovative attempt to harness previously untapped energy resources.”  She added, “I look forward to the results of the experimental project and congratulate Snohomish for undertaking it.”
Here’s hoping that tidal power will one day join solar and wind as another source of sustainable energy.