With the UK government committed to meeting renewable energy targets, Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Power, argues that it’s time for Wales to lead the way by harnessing one of its major natural resources.
Finding viable alternatives to fossil fuels is essential as the UK has made legally-binding commitments to deliver 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Currently, just 5% of our power is renewably sourced and some forms of low carbon energy are controversial or unsuitable for the UK.
The Severn Estuary holds the second highest tidal range in the world and Swansea Bay benefits from an average tidal range during spring tides of 8.5m.This tidal range offers significant potential for the extraction of renewable energy through the construction of tidal lagoons and is an exciting opportunity for Wales and the UK with the potential for over 10,000MW of power from a series of coastal tidal lagoons.
Our vision is to see this sustainable and abundant tidal resource help the UK towards greater energy security. It can help the transition to a low carbon future and lower costs of electricity while providing regenerative, economic and recreational benefits to local communities.
The proposed tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay offers the world’s first, man-made, energy-generating lagoon, with a 240MW nominal rated capacity averaging 14 hours of generation every day. A £750million investment, it will produce clean, renewable, reliable and predictable power for over 120,000 homes for over 100 years.
What’s more, the proposed tidal lagoon will make an important contribution towards national carbon emission reduction targets – over 216,000 tonnes of CO2 saved each year – while providing an opportunity to develop a tidal range industry for the UK centred on Wales, with community and tourism opportunities covering education, arts, culture, recreation and sports.
Although the Lagoon is the first of its kind, all component parts of the project have been proven elsewhere in the world, keeping technology risk low. The development comprises a breakwater wall, concrete turbine housing similar to those found in many maritime structures, sluices and hydro turbines (whose reliability has been established for 50 years) as well as a visitor centre and associated onshore amenities. The hydro turbines will be installed in a single section of the outer reaches of the breakwater wall, through which estuarine water can flow four times daily to generate power.
Given the significant forecast reduction in the UK’s capacity to meet demand for electricity from the end of 2015, we believe that now is the right time for the UK to consider harnessing one of its major natural resources – the sea. Tidal lagoons offer a viable, large scale alternative to conventional electricity production that have the potential to generate predictable, clean electricity for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
For more information visit http://www.tidallagoonswanseabay.com/film.aspx.