Thursday, 28 June 2018

All at sea

Despite it being a manifesto pledge the UK government refused financial support to build a tidal lagoon in Swansea. Effectively turning its back on tidal energy, a vast and unexploited worldwide resource. 

Tidal lagoon schemes have for some time been seen as an economically and environmentally attractive alternative to tidal barrages. The scheme that the UK government have given the thumbs down in Swansea bay had the potential to harness significant energy resources. 

The barrage was to harvest power from the height difference between high and low tides. Unlike other renewables, it would have been regular and dependable.

It worked by running water through turbines.  A technology similar to that found in hydropower schemes,  but with one key difference, tidal currents run in two directions, unlike rivers that only run one way.

If this new technology had been allowed to develop the UK could have been a world beater and there are few potential sites worldwide that are as close to electricity users and the transmission grid as those in the UK. 

Swansea would have been the ideal location for such a pathfinder project located as it is in the Bristol Channel and the Severn Estuary with one of the world’s largest tidal ranges.  Often reaching 10m. 
It was thought the scheme would generate enough energy to power 155,000 homes.
Many scientists and engineers have said that increasing integration of volatile, unpredictable sources of renewable energy such as wind and solar power could jeopardise the stability of the power grid. More certainty is required.

In order for the grid to remain stable the power generated at any instance has to match demand, therefore it is important that the transmission network contains power sources that are immediately available. While the sun may stop shining, and the wind can drop, the tides remain predictable – an obvious advantage for tidal power and a great help for National Grid forecasters.

But, alas, an English centric government has turned its back on Wales becoming a world leader in a new industry. Our planet needs such schemes and they will be provided. But the technology will eventually be purchased from abroad. When it so easily could have been a world-beating homegrown industry but for the timidity of Theresa May.

No comments:

Post a Comment