France Plans Groundbreaking Tidal Power Experiment

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Tidal Power

Coming on the heels of the inauguration of the world’s first commercial scale tidal power turbine, Electricite de France (EDF) has announced that it plans to build a pilot tidal turbine system. The plan calls for 3 to 6 turbines to be built with capacities between 4 and 6 MW by 2011.

The location of the site (off Paimpol in Brittany) was chosen due to the extremely strong currents in the area.

While the recently installed SeaGen tidal power system in Ireland was certainly revolutionary, the French plan is as well. France alone has 80% of the potential in Europe for generating electricity from tidal currents—enough to theoretically create 10 million MWh per year.

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This is not France’s first tidal power endeavor; The Rance tidal power plant in Brittany was the world’s first electrical generating system powered by tidal energy. The plant, constructed in 1966, outputs about 68 MW of power per year. However, the Rance plant has had severe environmental consequences due to its placement in a fragile estuary.

Fortunately, the new plan will not have such issues—unlike the polluting barrage system used in older tidal plants, the EDF turbines are free-floating.

And the EDF plan has big implications—if all goes well with the pilot project, France hopes to make tidal power an integral industry in the country.

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