How can anything as ‘simple’ as a floating bridge provide so much wealth?

Author: Andre Hoogeveen

Placed on: 15 June 2017

Tags: tidal, bridge, energy, tidal power

Andre klein

Andre Hoogeveen

Strukton Sustainable Energy

André Hoogeveen is project manager with Strukton Sustainable Energy. He travels around the world to tell anyone who wants to listen about the new tidal bridge. In this blog he will explain why this tidal bridge is so unique

“Wind turbines cause quite a few discussions - people like windmills, but not in their backyard”

The use of fossil fuels is approaching its finale. We have seen it coming for a while. Renewable energy, for example from wind and water, provides excellent alternatives, but we are all still searching for optimum solutions. Wind turbines, for example, are raising objections because investments are huge, and people like windmills, but not in their backyard, please.

Where the latter argument is concerned, water may be a more desirable option, because the turbines that generate energy from water are hidden underneath the water surface. Right on the seabed, for example, as is the case in France and Canada. Which, at the same time, represents its major disadvantage. If there is any defect, it will cost a lot of money to repair. To give an indication, if a service activity on land costs 1 euro, the same activity performed on the sea surface will cost 10 euros. On the seabed, it will cost 100 euros. Making this option a very costly one.

Ready-to-use floating bridge

Around seven years ago, Strukton came across Tocardo Tidal Turbines. Both turned out to be great fans of tidal energy. This led to a first in the Netherlands in 2015: five tidal turbines were installed near the Oosterschelde Weir in the Dutch province of Zeeland. Currently, it is the largest project for tidal energy generation in the Netherlands and the largest commercial tidal installation in the world.

Already, the Tidal Bridge company, which is a part of Strukton, has developed a ready-to-use product: a floating bridge on which tidal turbines can be mounted. The bridge can be built in any customised length, according to the installation of the required number of elements on the water surface. In addition, customers are free to choose any number of turbines to be mounted. The elements have a length of 100 metres and a width of thirty metres and are suitable to carry traffic across. There’s a solution for the shipping industry as well: two floating elements with hinges that offer the possibility of passage. If desired, we can even install a whole tidal park by placing a series of bridge elements with turbines.


40 percent

The major advantage of the standard approach of Tidal Bridge is that investment costs are kept to a minimum, so the yield of the turbines is maximised.

Gas and nuclear power stations have a capacity factor of 98 or 99 percent. Tidal turbines show a percentage of around 40 percent. Does that sound low? Solar energy only provides around 25 percent – after all, the sun does not shine at night. And not every day by far. Wind energy shows a similar percentage, because sometimes there may not be a breath of wind.

The fact that tidal turbines produce a yield of ‘only’ 40 percent is because tidal flows vary during ebb and flow. Sea waters are pulled to and fro by the moon’s motion. The flow is at its max right in-between maximum ebb and maximum flow. And when ebb and flow are at their maximum, there is hardly any flow at all.

“When placed in-between two islands, tidal bridges will produce optimum yields”

Two birds with one stone: traffic and energy

Wouldn’t it be great if all bridges could be replaced by these tidal bridges with tidal turbines... Unfortunately, things are not as simple as that. The water has to have a certain flow: at least three, three-and-a-half metres per second, for the tidal bridge to be profitable.

When placed in-between two islands, tidal bridges will produce optimum yields. That’s where tidal flows are often very high. And thanks to the bridge, traffic can easily move from one island to the other and back again. That’s how we kill two birds with one stone!

Indonesia is the world’s largest island country. It comprises 14,572 islands. This is where we will be installing the first tidal bridge outside of the Netherlands. The floating bridge will be located in the Larantuka Street, which flows between the islands of Flores and Adonara.

Animation TB

Energy for 500,000 households

In this remote region, the tidal bridge will definitely provide a boost to the economy. The islands do have electricity, but it is often generated by diesel. In addition, there are many blackouts in this area. Tidal energy is stable. After all, ebb and flow will always be there. The tidal turbines are able to provide 500,000 households in the region with energy. Indeed, the bridge and the turbines will cause a regional industrial revolution. Starting with fisheries. Fishermen no longer need to sell their catch on the same day, because if they are assured of constant electricity, they are able to deepfreeze their fish and sell it to, for example, Japan. Local industry is also given a boost, because people will be able to reach all villages easily just by driving across the bridge. More people will be attracted to the region, more schools and hospitals will be built, and tourists will come flooding in.

I’m sure many regions around the world will want to benefit from the advantages of the tidal bridge. We are presently drawing up a list of these locations, so that we can make unsolicited proposals to the authorities. Unsolicited, but not undesired, when you remember that something as ‘simple’ as a floating bridge with tidal turbines will boost the wealth level of a whole region.

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