Ocean Energy

I've wondered lately what amount of energy could be produced if the resources expended in the three Gorges Dam could have been used to construct a waterfall the coast of China, or any nation? How much energy would be developed? It may exceed the total amount of energy expected from Three Gorges, and most dams on waterways now constructed in China. What a wonderful way to eliminate the horrors now visiting China as a result of the damming of the Yangtze River. Carbon emissions would be reduced significantly, fossil fuels would also be eliminated in large part, and millions of acres of arable land could be saved along with ancient river cultures.

Has anyone even broached such a project before? I've read available info on Wave Dragon, and other small scale efforts. It would be helpful to know if such an effort (Ocean Waterfall) is physically feasible.


Walter Hulshorst's picture

The Three Gorges Dam in China costs are estimated at about 22,5 billion dollars. The total generation will be 84,7 TWh per year and the total amount of generation capacity is 18,2 GW. More then 1,2 million people have to be settled else were.

I presume that you mean with Ocean waterfall, electricity production by tidel barrage methode. The principle of operation is that an estuary or bay with a large natural tidal range is identified and then artificially enclosed with a barrier. The electricity is produced by allowing water to flow from one side of the barrage, though turbines to generate electricity.

According the “2007 survey on renewable energy” by the World Energy Council there are worldwide considerable numbers of sites technically suitable for development, although whether the resource can be developed economically is yet to be conclusively determined. These include:

Severn Estuary (UK) with an estimated annual energy production of 12.900 GWh

Solway Firth (UK) with an estimated annual energy production of 10.050 GWh

Bay of Fundy (Canada) with an estimated annual energy production of 11.700 GWh

Gulf of khambhat (India) with a estimated annual energy production of 16.400 GWh

Tidal Barrage systems are likely to cause substantial environmental change; ebb generation results in estuarial tidal flats being covered longer than in a natural estuary; a barrage will cause obstruction to shipping and other maritime activity. Artificial lagoons have been proposed as alternatives to estuarial barrages. Some preliminary studies on artificial lagoons do suggest that in suitable locations the costs might be competitive with other sources of renewable energy. However, there has not yet been any in-depth peer reviewed assessment of the tidal lagoon concept, so estimates of economics, energy potential and environmental impact should be treated with caution. The Severn Estuary and the mouth of the Yalu River (China) have both been suggested as potential locations for lagoon-style development.

By Walter Hulshorst 18/10/2007
Robert's picture

Mr. Walter Hulshorst,

Thank you for your comments. What I have in mind is a funnel type structure about 80 meters deep that could be anchored to the ocean floor like off-shore oil rigs. The funnel would be on the order of 300 meters in diameter at the top narrowing to 100 meters at or near the bottom where turbines and generators would be housed in 20 penstocks placed equi-distant around the inside of the funnel. Each with it's own turbine/generator power line system.

Ocean water would enter the funnel at its top through sluice gates that could be automatically opened and closed to accommodate demand for power at different times of the day. Water would exit the funnel through a chamber equipped with pressurized air valves to force the water back into the ocean.

By Robert (not verified) 16/12/2007
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