Special Report

Where to Take a Tour of the World’s Power Plants

From Nevada’s Hoover Dam to a geothermal plant next to an Icelandic volcano, these six power stations open their doors to visitors

The Hoover Dam generates about 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year, enough to power the lives of 1.3 million people. (Wikimedia Commons)

Annapolis Tidal Station, Canada

Annapolis Tidal Station
(Hartmut Inerle / Wikimedia Commons)

Annapolis, North America’s only tidal power station, harness the power of the world’s most dramatic tide, in the Bay of Fundy on the Atlantic coast. The station generates electricity from water in much the same way that dams like Hoover and Manapouri do. But there’s one big difference: constructing this power plant didn’t require creating a large reservoir or carving out a mountain.

The Nova Scotia tidal station, which opened in 1984, employs rows of turbines that resemble upside-down windmills. Submerged in ocean water, the turbines are spun round and round by the flow of natural currents. The rolling movement keeps the turbines rotating fast enough to power a generator, producing usable electricity. The station generates about 80 to 100 thousand kilowatt hours of electricity every day, an output that depends on the strength of the bay’s tides.

The station’s free visitors' center is open between June and September, offering visitors an overview of the plant’s history and a thorough explanation of how tidal power generation works.

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