The tidal energy industry is developing rapidly worldwide. However, its is solar and wind power that saturate the media and make up the majority of sustainable energy installations. Why is there seemingly so little activity regarding tidal energy? This research investigates challenges for tidal energy, especially targeting public perception in two countries in different hemispheres: Australia and Canada. To investigate this, a survey was distributed to people living in both countries. Scientific and academic literature was also reviewed to give insight into how the future might look regarding marine renewable energy (MRE) and offshore renewable energy such as tidal energy.
Looking at previous research done in the fields of sustainability and social science and conducting a survey on public opinion, this thesis identifies some of the obstacles and challenges that the tidal energy industry faces: construction costs, technical challenges, lack of research and knowledge and social and cultural factors. With the two surveys, this study concluded that both residents in Australia (based on 64 respondents) and Canada (40 respondents) are not confident in distinguishing the difference between tidal energy and wave energy, pointing towards a gap in knowledge about tidal energy. The thesis identified communication and possibly media coverage as a solution to obstacles for the advancement of tidal energy arising from public opposition. Respondents from Australia showed a greater interest in more media coverage of tidal energy than the respondents from Canada. Both groups of respondents were concerned with their energy being green and both groups perceived tidal energy as green. The biggest concerns were the same for the two groups: disruption and injury to wildlife and impact on nearby land.
The thesis also presents an evaluation of the potential for the tidal energy industry to overcome these issues and what possible solutions look like. As a multidisciplinary study, concerned with the technological, economical and human dimensions of tidal energy and its industry, it offers a multifaceted overview of various issues at hand and attempts to compile knowledge from various fields into a comprehensive look at the sustainability and viability of tidal energy.