Fiona Harvey Turning tide?

“There is a tide in the affairs of men

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”

So muses Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Many tidal energy companies have been waiting for the flood tide for years. Tidal electricity generation was successfully demonstrated decades ago, and yet the impetus for the development of the technology has been largely absent.

Until now? Well, the UK government appears to be taking tidal energy more seriously with its shortlist of proposals for a Severn tidal scheme, which could be a barrage or one of various other methods.

But progress has been slow.

In the meantime, other tidal energy projects have begun to go ahead, on a much smaller scale than the Severn project.

One man who has shown his faith in taking the tide at the flood is Bob Smith. Formerly the chief development officer at BP Solar, he has just taken on the post of chief executive at Pulse Tidal, a company based in Sheffield, in the UK.

Pulse’s pulling point is that its machines work in shallow waters, which are closer to shore and so to the electricity grid and customers. Pulse, which was established in 2007 and has raised £2m to date for its work, currently has a 100kW test rig in the Humber.

Mr Smith noted that the ability to set up rigs in shallow waters gave the company a considerable advantage: “[It] reduces cost and complexity dramatically and we are confident that it will allow us to make tidal power a commercial reality very quickly.”

Or, as Brutus went on to say, if people do not take the tide when it comes round,

“Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat,

And we must take the current when it serves

Or lose our ventures.”