Though the Dutch are known for their windmills, they may be looking to underwater turbines for energy in the near future. In 1953 a massive flood decimated a large part of The Netherlands, killing 1,800 people on the south-west coast of the country. Dikes were devised and installed along the coastline to prevent future flooding. In their wake they left a host of man-made freshwater lakes — now stagnant and home to unpleasant algae — and shut the tides out of the large estuaries. A group of engineers is now proposing a plan to cut a few holes in the structures to allow the saltwater to return. The revised dikes would reinstate natural habitat and could create a network of tidal power plants that would provide electricity to the region.
Following the 1953 flood much of The Netherlands followed the south-west region, installing dikes to prevent future catastrophes. The natural Dutch estuaries have been all but destroyed because of what has been referred to as one of the seven wonders of the modern world — along with the Panama Canal and the Chunnel. Without the constant rush of saltwater tides the estuaries have become stagnant and much of the wildlife once present has died off. They are home to smelly algae and the regions have lost much of their prior natural glory.
The Dutch government believes that with new technology the country’s dikes could be used to generate power while keeping the safety of the citizens and the welfare of nature in mind. The government’s committee is hoping that their plan to restore beauty to the region, tap the tides for energy and keep the populous safe will tempt other parts of the country to crack a small hole in their dikes and dams as well. Sounds like the Dutch are going underwater with their mills and we think it’s a great plan.