The Potential and Challenges of Tidal Energy in India

Krishna Kumar Vepakomma
India has vast potential to generate tidal energy with its 7,500 km coastline, estimated to generate around 12,455 MW. However, the country is still in the early stages of tidal energy development, with only 0.5 MW of installed capacity. One of the main challenges is the high installation cost and specialized technology required for tidal energy. Additionally, the impact on marine ecosystems needs to be mitigated to prevent environmental harm. Despite the challenges, tidal energy has the potential to offer clean and sustainable electricity, decrease India’s reliance on fossil fuels, and enhance energy security. However, even though India has been trying to evaluate and harness tidal power for almost 40 years, the country has not achieved any substantial advancement in this field, in contrast to the rapid progress in other renewable energy sources. The Gujarat government has approved Rs 25 crore to set up India’s first tidal energy plant at the Gulf of Kutch, with a capacity of 50 MW, which can be increased to 200 MW. The Gulf of Kutch has a total potential of 300 MW. Other potential sites for tidal energy generation in India include the Sundarbans delta, the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The growth of tidal energy is expected to have positive economic impacts and encourage international collaboration, with the global wave and tidal energy market projected to grow significantly in the coming years. However, tidal energy is not the only form of ocean-based renewable energy, with wave energy also offering potential in the southern states, particularly along the Kerala coast. To fully exploit the potential of tidal and wave energy in India, the government needs to reassess the practically exploitable potential of ocean energy and promote research and development to achieve cost reductions and large-scale development. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy should prepare a policy on tidal energy to provide clarity on tariffs and commercial development. Despite the challenges faced, the government has taken several initiatives to promote the development of tidal energy, including setting up the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) to conduct research and development activities in the field of ocean energy. The wave and tidal energy market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 43% from 2023 to 2031, driven by increased investments, technological advancements, and favorable government policies worldwide. India has an estimated potential of 54 GW of ocean energy, including 12.4 GW of tidal power. However, despite four decades of efforts, India has not yet developed tidal power due to high costs and environmental risks. To fully exploit the potential of ocean-based renewable energy, the government must reassess the practical exploitable potential, promote research and development, and create a policy framework to support commercial development. Despite these challenges, the global wave and tidal energy market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, driven by increased investment and technological advancements.
(The views expressed are personal.)

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