Tidal Energy Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Every day, ocean waters rise and fall. In this lesson, you'll learn how this moving tidal water can be captured to produce tidal energy. You'll also discover the pros and cons of tidal energy.

What is Tidal Energy?

You probably know that you should never use something electrical near water because electricity and water make for a dangerous combination, but did you know that electricity can be made from moving water? Tidal energy is a form of renewable energy powered by the ocean tides. It can be used to supply some of the electricity we use in our homes and schools.

Tides are the rise and fall of ocean waters. If you like to collect seashells on the beach, you're already familiar with the changing tides. During high tide, the ocean water comes high up on the beach. During low tide, the water retreats, leaving behind many neat looking seashells.

Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and, to a lesser degree, by the pull of the sun. As the Earth spins on its axis, the ocean water closest to the moon gets pulled toward the moon (high tide) until it spins away (low tide).

How Does Tidal Energy Work?

Tidal energy captures the energy from moving water by using either a turbine or a barrage. Let's look at these in more detail.


Have you ever seen a huge windmill in a field or on top of a hill? If you can imagine a windmill under the water, then you have a pretty good idea of what a tidal energy turbine is like.

A tidal turbine has blades that spin as water moves past them.

Turbines are machines that change the power of moving air or water into usable energy. Tidal turbines are placed in the path of the ocean tides. As the tides change, water moves past the turbine, causing its blades to spin. This movement is transferred to a generator that converts the movement energy into electricity.


Tidal barrages are dams that produce power from the tides. Barrages can be built across an inlet or narrow stretch of water.

A tidal barrage is a dam that captures tidal energy.

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