The European Union has set a target of 20% of its energy needs coming from renewable sources by 2020. To make this happen, they will have to harness the power of wind sun and the sea…. In the first of a series of films I’m making for EARTHRISE, I travelled to the coast of Northern Ireland to explore the potential of tidal power

TURNING TIDAL explores the potential of tidal power as a renewable energy resource and visits the world’s first and largest commercial tidal turbine that’s been built in Northern Ireland. The waters of Strangford Lough, near Belfast run cold, fast and deep, and are some of the fastest tidal areas in the world. Under the surface lies a submerged turbine that looks like a cross between an airplane propeller and a windmill converting the energy of tidal flows into electricity. Green, clean and unlikely to harm marine life, the 300 tonne turbine is generating enough electricity to power 1000 houses.

Tidal generators can harvest the energy of these moving streams, with the added advantage that the resource is predictable unlike wind, is not dependent on annual rainfall like freshwater hydropower plants, and does not shut down at night like solar plants.

With 50% of Europe’s tidal resource around the UK, there lays an immense, potential, largely untapped resource of clean energy. It is estimated that harnessing the power of the seas, using wave and tidal generation methods, could meet the electricity demand of 15 million UK homes every year. Maximizing the full potential of marine energy could save up to 70m tones of Co2 by 2050, with the marine energy sector also providing up to 16,000 jobs.

Earthrise broadcasts on Al Jazeera English and explores solutions to today’s environmental challenges, taking an upbeat look at ecological, scientific, technological and design projects the world over. Our reporters will meet inspiring individuals and communities leading the way in a field no one can afford to ignore.

Watch at the following times GMT: Friday: 1930; Saturday: 1430; Sunday: 0430; Monday: 0830, join our live web chats, submit your ideas and feedback and nominate your own environmental ‘local hero’.

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  1. Reena Says:

    Hello Mr. Steeds,

    Can’t wait to see all of the wonderful, amazing things you are working on.
    It has always been a dream of mine to see the ocean like you have, I just saw the pictures from DE.
    By the way you are getting way to skinny.
    Have a great holiday filled with merriment.

    Wishing you health, happiness, love, and wealth

  2. Tan Says:

    Hi, Olly
    Happy New Year! All I can say is “WOW!” I hope this new energy source make a big hit. Its sound pretty logic since we known we have plenty of wind, sun and sea. Just wondering, what about hurricane, don’t know much about northern Ireland, if she ever get hit by hurricane or not. Anyway, you were at Belfast, did you ever visit the movie set for “The Game of Throne”? I heard they filming the series there, it sure look very isolate, beautiful, and cold (saw on the little clip of the making). Anyway, hope this New Year bring you lot of love, happiness, joys, and plenty of lucks. Stay safe and best wishes for you and your family. Tan

  3. Glenda Says:

    Hi olly I think it’s a good source of renewable energy and that cool I like learning about renewable energy thank you for doing a doc on it and happy new year :)

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