As for environmental impacts, some of the non-monetary costs associated with barrage systems include destruction of habitat, interruption of organisms’ travel routes, potential electromagnetic interference (in the case of species that can sense electric fields), and potential acoustic pollution. In addition, hydroelectric systems are well-known for killing fish, and the waste heat that ends up in the water reduces its capacity to store dissolved oxygen, harming not only fish, but all organisms in the affected area. Despite all this, such systems are attractive to many because of their reliance on existing technology and knowledge.
In contrast, turbine-based systems do not have the same geographic constraints, do not disrupt the environment to nearly the same degree, have less of an impact on local organisms, and are quieter; however, the requisite technology is not nearly as mature, large-scale power generation is less efficient, and the costs (both short- and long-term) are more uncertain. Still, the advantages weigh in their favor, which is why a number of such systems are being tested around the world- the BioPower Systems and SeaGen approaches being two of the most visible examples. Indeed, the BioPower Systems designs seek to mimic nature and be as environmentally inobtrusive as possible. Hopefully, full-scale testing will validate both designs.
Tidal power is certainly not a panacaea and definitely has its limitations, but it certainly qualifies as a viable component of our alternative-energy toolkit.