skip to content

MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Tidal Energy on a Global Scale: Feasibility and Contribution to Energy Growth in the Developing World

Andrew Sullivan

Tidal Energy on a Global Scale: Feasibility and Contribution to Energy Growth in the Developing World


The need for clean, renewable sources of electricity and the continued growth of the world’s least developed countries indicate the need for all avenues of renewable electricity generation to be pursued. This work identifies regions and countries that have both the necessary physical and desired socio-political resources to create a promising outlook for tidal power development. As an emerging and rapidly evolving technology in-stream tidal power holds much promise but is not without its obstacles which necessitate further inquiry, accurately identifying potential sites
for development being one.

A total of 57 countries were examined through several layers based on tidal range, presence of promising geographic features, proximity to load centers and the country’s approach to renewable energy technologies. The geographic features were chosen based on a review of completed tidal energy resource assessments which allowed four unique features to be identified as causing favorable conditions for tidal power with these being; inlets, island groups, peninsulas and estuaries. These features were chosen as they induce an increased tidal current velocity, a key determinant in a sites potential power output. To help distinguish between features of varying potential a graded ranking system was employed and was applied to the development of a socio-political ranking system as well. The socio-political ranking was used to identify the variance in countries approaches to renewable energy technologies and the proximity of load centers.

The layered approach taken to this analysis allowed for 17 countries to be identified as having a significant physical tidal resource and applying the subsequent socio-political layers allowed for this list to be further refined to just seven countries; India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Mozambique, Madagascar and Guinea. India was found to have the largest potential for country specific tidal power development, a result affirmed through it being home to the construction of the worlds first in-stream tidal power plant. Regions of extremly low potential were found in Namibia, Angola, Mauritania, Sudan, Yemen and Syria. Physical and socioipolitical resources varied greatly across the countries analysed, generating results which should aid in the identification and pursuit of future tidal power development.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.