New proposals mean that the UK is one step closer to hosting the world’s first series of tidal lagoons, a new and innovative development in renewable energy.
The six lagoons - one in Somerset, one in Cumbria and four in Wales- will be used to capture the passing tide behind man-made sea walls, and will then utilise the weight of the water in powering turbines.
As a source of renewable energy it has received the support of Energy Secretary Ed Davey, and the £1bn Swansea scheme is already in planning. However the schemes are looking to be high in cost, but through development on subsequent lagoons this will enable the Swansea scheme to provide 8% of the UK’s electricity for an initial investment of £30bn.
Funding for the lagoons would come from the existing government scheme, funded by electricity bill-payers, which is working to provide renewable energy and cut carbon emissions across the UK.
Tidal Lagoon Power remains in negotiations regarding the charge of electricity from the lagoons. The firm have suggested an initial charge of £168 MWh for Swansea power, but have offered that this be reduced to £90-95 per MWh from a more efficient lagoon which is planned for Cardiff, which is competition for the £92.50 charge from the planned Hinkley power station.
Ed Davey told BBC News: “I can’t make a decision on this yet because discussions are ongoing. But I’m very excited by the prospect of tidal power.
“We have got some of the biggest tidal ranges in the world and it would be really useful if we could harness some of that clean energy”.
The lagoons will work through a lock gate machine, which will pull the tide through a turban at high tide, and push water out during low tide.
Mark Shorrock, CEO of Tidal Lagoon Power said: “We have a wonderful opportunity to create energy from the dance between the moon and the earth.
“It is admittedly rather expensive to begin with but as time goes on and the capital costs are paid off it becomes incredibly cheap.”
However the proposals have met opposition, Anglers have expressed worry about the impact the lagoons may have on fish migration. Phil Jones, a local fisher, has said: “We would very strongly oppose any plans for this and other lagoons down the South Wales Coast.”
Despite some minor dispute, the lagoons offer a genuine opportunity to develop a new form of renewable energy within the UK, it is a significant development in helping reduce our carbon footprint.
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