Netherlands and China to research and exploit Dynamic Tidal Power

October 5th, 2012 by Richard Lord

The Dutch and the Chinese are known for their massive landscape altering projects. China’s Three Gorges Dam is a massive engineering feat, and the Dutch have reclaimed large tracts of land from the sea, and engineered massive levees and dikes to protect low-lying land.

Now the two nations have signed a deal to develop and exploit Dynamic Tidal Power (DTP) in Chinese waters.

A consortium of Dutch companies and academic institutions will research the technology with their Chinese counterparts.

Participating in the Dutch Power Programme are Strukton Engineering, ARCADIS Nederland, Technische Universiteit Delft, Pentair Nijhuis, DNV KEMA, Oranjewoud, IMARES, and H2iD. Their project budget to investigate DTP is €2.1 million, running from 2012 to 2014.

In August 2012, China’s National Energy Administration formed a group of top Chinese companies and research institutes to carry out joint studies with the Dutch Power consortium.

A cut-away of a dam caisson showing a turbine that generates electricity with the flow of water between one side of the dam and the other (click image to expand - image courtesy of Power Programme)

Dynamic Tidal Power requires the construction of a long dam out into the sea from the coast, that could be over 30 kilometres long. The structure has to be long enough to influence tidal patterns and cause high and low tides to occur simultaneously on opposite sides of the structure.

Studies have shown that a large DTP dam along the Chinese coast could feature installed capacity of 15 GW or more, placing it among the world’s largest hydroelectric power projects.

Compared to a traditional tidal barrage or dam, such as the Rance tidal power station, in Brittany, which has led to progressive siltation of the Rance Estuary, Dynamic Tidal Power does not require the enclosure of a basin, which reduces its environmental and social impacts.

Peng Cheng, deputy Director-General of Hydropower and Water Resources Planning and Design General Institute said “a lot of work must be done to determine if Dynamic Tidal Power is a feasible option for China. We hope that a suitable demonstration project can be designed in the coming year or two.”

“If that demonstration proves successful, we will have a solid basis from which to investigate the application of full-scale Dynamic Tidal Power,” Mr Peng Cheng said.

A diagram showing land as yellow and sea level height variation caused by tidal flow around a pier or dam-like structure (click image to expand - image courtesy of Power Programme)

The States of Guernsey have approved funding to research the economic feasibility of constructing a deep water cruise ship berth out from St Peter Port habour that would probably alter the tidal flow in the Little Russel, and may allow for tidal turbines in any proposed structure.

However, Gijs van Banning, Senior Specialist at ARCADIS Nederland BV, said that DTP works best with large scale dams. DTP needs at least a 20 to 30 cm head level difference between each side of the dam before there is sufficient flow through the turbines to generate electricity.

A large scale DTP project such as is proposed in China could mean building a 70 to 100 km long dam that could have an installed capacity of 22 GW.

Mr. van Banning said that the larger the dam, the better the principal of DTP works.

Please visit the Dutch Power Programme website for additional information.


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