Tidal lagoon power plants planned for Wales, Somerset & Cumbria (Wired UK)


Tidal Lagoon Power


The world’s first electricity-generating tidal lagoons are to be
built
 in six locations across Britain, with at least one
already in the planning stage.

Four of them will be located in Wales — in Swansea, Cardiff,
Newport and Colwyn Bay — and there’ll be one each in Bridgewater
in Somerset and West Cumbria. Tidal Lagoon Power, the firm behind
the project, eventually believes that six lagoons could generate
eight percent of the UK’s electricity for a cost of £12 billion.
The plan is backed by energy secretary Ed
Davey.

Here’s how it’ll work in the first location
— Swansea Bay
. A sea wall eight kilometres long will be built
to encircle a large area of water three kilometres out from the
coast, isolating it from the sea like a lagoon. Turbines will be
set in the wall, which will then generate energy from the
difference in water height four times a day as the tide rises and
falls. You can explore an interactive 3D model of the lagoon here.

One of the benefits of tidal power, compared to solar or wind,
is that it’s totally predictable. We know how much energy such a
scheme would generate decades into the future, making it much
easier to integrate with existing electrical infrastructure. It’ll
also last a long time — the firm estimates about 120 years.

But getting started isn’t cheap. The first lagoon is expected to
carry an extremely high price tag — at least £1 billion — which
taxpayers will front. That’ll provide energy for 155,000 homes
alone and serve as a test bed for the technology, making subsequent plants of the
same type less pricy. “It’s a little bit expensive to start off
with, then very cheap for a very long time,” Mark Shorrock, the CEO
of Tidal Lagoon Power, told
BBC News.

Previous plans for a tidal barrage on the Severn river were
cancelled due to environmental concerns, but this project does not
affect the mud flats crucial for wading birds. As such, it’s been
cautiously welcomed by environmental
groups placing the clean energy it will generate over the limited
disruption to the ecosystems of the bay from the delayed tides.

However anglers have expressed fears over the effect of the
turbines on fish migrating to spawn in local rivers. The company
factors that the numbers of fish caught in the turbines will be
small, and the new sea wall will create a reef habitat that
benefits fish.

Right now, Tidal Lagoon Power is negotiating with the government
over how much it can charge for the electricity. It’s hoping for
£168 per megawatt-hour the Swansea lagoon, falling to £90-£95 for a
second lagoon in Cardiff. That compares well to the planned Hinkley Point nuclear plant, which will generate power at
£92.50 per megawatt hour.

“The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon provides the key to unlock large
quantities of reliable, low cost, low carbon electricity for the
next 120 years,” said Shorrock. “Backing the Swansea Bay Tidal
Lagoon also means backing a catalyst for British industry and
exports, a new option for strategic flood defences, an opportunity
to regenerate coastal communities and a vision for national energy
infrastructure that can work hand-in-hand with nature.”

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2 March 2015 | 10:05 am – Source: wired.co.uk

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