A small British-based tidal energy company has won a landmark contract to attempt to harness the power of the sea around India for the first time.
Atlantis Resources has forged a deal with the western state of Gujarat, under which the privately owned company will establish the feasibility of developing tidal power projects capable of generating more than 100 megawatts of power — enough to supply about 40,000 households.
Of particular interest are the Gulf of Kutch and the Gulf of Khambhat in the Arabian Sea: two sites renowned for extreme daily tides. The project could lead to hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment in tidal energy if the results of the study are positive.
India has more than 4,500 miles of coastline and is scrambling to tackle a gaping power deficit but has yet to establish a single tidal power project. The move to explore the untapped resource comes ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, an event where India will strive to demonstrate that it isdoing its utmost to limit emissions while refusing to cap economic growth.
India, which imports 70 per cent of its oil and relies on modest coal reserves to generate most of its electricity, is on course to become the third-largest user of energy by 2030, behind the US and China.
Atlantis’s backers include Morgan Stanley and Statkraft, the Norweigan state utility. The company, which is run by Tim Cornelius, an Australian former pilot of manned submersibles, is also hoping to establish a £400 million project to build one of the world’s biggest tidal power plants in the Pentland Firth, off the Scottish coast.
The waterway, famous for its treacherous currents, has the potential to turn Scotland into “the Saudi Arabia of tidal energy”, according to Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister.
Proponents of tidal current power argue that it is the most reliable and predictable form of clean energy, even though the technology lags that used in wind power.
The gravitational pull of the moon and sun is predictable and moves horizontally around the earth, creating high and low tides. Tidal current energy takes the kinetic energy in these tidal currents and converts it into renewable electricity.
Sea water is 832 times denser than air and gives more kinetic energy than a 350 km/h wind. That means — in theory — that a smaller device is required to harness tidal current energy than to harness wind.
There is an estimated 50,000 megawatts of potential tidal current energy available worldwide. Britain, according to one estimate, could meet about 15 per cent of its total electricity needs with this source of energy.
India has emerged as a world leader in wind power, and Atlantis hopes to leverage the nation’s expertise in that field to forge ahead with a tidal project.
India has also recently stepped up its efforts to tap other renewable energy sources — most notably through a $19 billion plan to develop solar energy.
The national Solar Mission calls for India to generate 200 gigawatts of power from the sun by 2050. The entire world can generate about 14 gigawatts of solar power today.
It is not yet clear where the funding for the initiative will come from, but the scale of the solar project hints at the seriousness of India’s looming energy crisis. About 400 million Indians are not connected to the national grid.
Moreover, demand for electricity in India is likely to increase more than fivefold by 2030, according to a study by McKinsey, the consultants.
The same report said that the country could produce 6.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases in 2030, compared with about 1.6 billion tonnes this year.
Source: By Rhys Blakely, The Times
Story from: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/natural_resources/article6935567.ece