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Turning the Tide, Tidal Power in the UK

Classification:Energy, Climate Change
Document type:SDC Reports & Papers
Download:Tidal_Power_in_the_UK_Oct07.pdf - 6616 KB
Summary:imageThe UK’s natural tidal resources could potentially provide over 10% of our electricity supply. In its comprehensive study of tidal power in the UK, released in October 2007, the SDC laid out a series of recommendations on how the Government could develop our significant tidal resource, and promote emerging tidal technologies to provide secure, low carbon electricity for the long term.

Turning the Tide reports on the possibilities for tidal power across the UK, with a particular focus on the Severn Estuary. Our findings on the three main options for tidal power generation are summarised below:

A Severn Barrage

A barrage in the Severn Estuary could supply 4.4% of UK electricity supply (17TWh) from the second greatest tidal range resource in the world, generating electricity for over 120 years. However, it would have a major impact on the local environment, with the loss of up to 75% of the existing intertidal habitat, which is internationally protected. In light of this and other concerns, the report lay down a series of tough conditions which a Severn barrage would have to meet in order to be considered sustainable.

Tidal Stream

The UK also has an excellent tidal stream resource, and is leading the world in the development of a wide range of tidal stream devices, several of which are at the testing stage. The UK must ‘stay the course’ in developing and supporting these technologies, as the export and climate change benefits are potentially very large.

Tidal lagoons

On tidal lagoons, the SDC found that there is a lack of available evidence on the costs and environmental impacts, mainly due to the absence of any practical experience. We have called on Government to support the development of one or more demonstration project, which would help provide real-life data on their economic and environmental viability.

Research reports

Research Report 1 - UK tidal resource assessment
Research Report 2 - Tidal technologies overview
Research Report 3 - Severn barrage proposals
Research Report 4 - Severn non-barrage proposals
Research Report 5 - UK case studies

What happened next?

In 2008 the Government began its Feasibility Study into tidal power generation on the Severn Estuary. An initial public consultation was run in 2009, and a second consultation is planned before any decision is taken.

Leading on from our assertion that any Severn Tidal Power scheme must be fully compliant with the Habitats Directive, the SDC was commissioned to undertake research into potentially novel types of habitat compensation in 2009. The results of this work have been fed back into the Feasibility Study, and are available here.

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