Severn Estuary Tidal Power - Resource Page
Tidal Power in the Severn Estuary
The issue of tidal power in the Severn Estuary never seems have been far from the headlines for the past three decades or so. Recent debate has again centred on a proposal for a Severn Barrage scheme from Lavernock Point near Penarth to Brean Down near Weston-super-Mare (frequently termed the Cardiff-Weston Barrage), with the latest scheme is being promoted by Hafren Power, a private sector consortium including major engineering and construction companies.
The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, after taking written and oral evidence from relevant organisations and individuals, published its findings ‘A Severn Barrage?’ on the 10th of June 2013. The report states that although a tidal barrage across the Severn could contribute to energy and climate change objectives, the £34bn Hafren Power scheme had failed to demonstrate economic, environmental and public acceptability. It added that potential environmental impacts had not been adequately addressed, and that although the construction of the barrage was to be privately funded, potentially significant government subsidy for the electricity would still be required for 30 years. The report concluded with the recommendation that the Government should not support the proposed scheme in its present form and that Hafren Power undertake and make available, further assessments.
In addition to the Cardiff-Weston Barrage proposal, there continues to be support for alternative schemes to harness the tidal power resource both in the estuary and areas of the Bristol Channel. Some of the technologies involved were presented at the Sustainable Severn conference held at the University of the West of England in Bristol, on the 18th of April 2013. Recently a frontrunner has emerged in the form of Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay, who have submitted plans for a £850m tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay which could provide power for 120,000 homes as a first step towards developing technology that could meet 10% of the UK's electricity needs from the tides.
The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon
- Manmade lagoon could power 155,000 homes (Wired, 19th August 2014)
- Wave hello to British sea power (The Independent, 14th August 2014)
- D-day for Swansea Tidal Lagoon as it waits for £900m project nod (Wales Online, 8th August 2014)
- Six tidal lagoons planned for north and south Wales (ITV News, 9th June 2014)
- Shooting the Moon (The Economist, 7th June 2014)
- Good Energy invests in Swansea Bay's tidal project (BBC News, 7th May 2014)
- Tidal lagoons in Severn 'could offer better prospects' than a barrage, expert claims (Wales Online, 18th April 2014)
- Swansea Bay £850m tidal lagoon plan submitted (BBC News, 7th February 2014)
- Swansea Bay tidal lagoon plans submitted in world first power project (Wales Online, 7th February 2014)
- Swansea Bay's tidal lagoon could power 120,000 homes for 120 years (BBC News, 7th February 2014)
- World's largest power-generating lagoon planned for Swansea Bay (The Guardian, 7th February 2014)
- £1bn Severn Estuary hydro-electric scheme sees councils join forces (BBC News, 18th October 2013)
Websites and Reports
- A Severn barrage or tidal lagoons? A Comparison (Friends of the Earth, January 2014)
- Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay
The Severn Barrage
- Severn Barrage: Chief quits to set up rival firm (BBC News 26th March 2014)
- Four key figures in Hafren Power resign (Wales Online, 7th January 2014)
- Severn Barrage: Neath MP Peter Hain reveals plan frustrations (BBC News, 9th September 2013)
'A Severn Barrage?' Report Published
A report by MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee has been published stating that the case for Hafren Power's barrage scheme is unproven.
- The case for the Severn barrage (The Guardian, 25th July 2013)
- Where next for the Severn barrage? (BBC News, 11th June 2013)
- NGOs respond to Severn barrage proposals - video (The Guardian, 11th June 2013)
- MPs say Severn barrage plan is significantly flawed (BBC News, 10th June 2013)
- Severn tidal power barrage plans slammed by MPs (The Guardian, 10th June 2013)
- Severn Barrage plan dealt blow by MPs (ITV News, 10th June 2013)
- MPs raise fears over Severn Barrage plan (Wales Online, 10th June 2013)
Recent Major Reports and Conferences
- Severn Barrage and Tidal Energy conference (26/06/2013)
- Commons Select Committee - A Severn Barrage? (10/06/2013)
- Sustainable Severn Conference (18/04/2013)
Background to Tidal Power on the Severn Estuary
Few people interested in the Severn estuary and the surrounding area can be unaware of the debate about harnessing the power of the tides. It is the biggest issue currently affecting the estuary and one which the Severn Estuary Partnership is keen to see properly debated.
The UK Government is committed to generating 20% of the nation's energy from renewable sources by 2020. A tidal power project in the Severn estuary could also contribute to the UK’s commitment to meeting the European Union’s Renewable energy target along with domestic and international greenhouse gas targets. It is claimed that developments in the Severn estuary, with a tidal range of 14 metres (the second largest tidal range in the world), could make a major contribution to meeting both these ambitious targets, but any scheme is inevitably going to have a significant impact on habitats and wildlife. Some proposals could also influence shipping to the ports of Cardiff, Bristol, Gloucester, Newport and Sharpness.
A number of organisations have stressed the need for an open public debate in order to help identify the best way of capturing the enormous renewable energy resource of the Severn estuary whilst safeguarding its internationally important combination of species and habitats and bringing lasting benefits to local communities. The Government’s Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study Consultation was therefore about gathering and assessing evidence to enable Government to decide whether or not to support tidal power development in the Severn Estuary.
- BERR webpage on tidal power in the Severn Estuary National Archives website
- Evans Tidal Power Reef
- Friends of the Earth Severn Barrage Page
- Greenpeace on the Severn Barrage
- National Archives - Severn Tidal Power
- Parsons Brinckerhoff
- RSPB Severn Barrage News
- Sustainable Development Commission 'Tidal Power in the UK'
- Sustainable Severn Conference
- Tidal Energy
- Tidal Lagoon, Swansea Bay
- Wikipedia Severn Barrage Page
- WWF Cymru Statement on the Severn Barrage
Other Major Reports and Conferences
- Corlan Hafren - Severn Barrage - Regional Vision (10/2010)
- DECC - Severn Tidal Power - Feasibility Study Conclusions and Summary Report (10/2010)
- Friends of the Earth - The Severn Barrage (09/2007)
- Marine Conservation Society
- RSPB - Severn Tidal Power (02/2010)
- Sustainable Development Commission 'Tidal Power in the UK' (30/09/2007)
- WWF Frontier Economics Barrage Report (12/06/2008)
All website links correct as of 09/06/2014, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you find any that are broken.
About the Severn Estuary Partnership
Note: It is not the intention of the Severn Estuary Partnership to take any position regarding the debate about tidal power in the estuary, merely to provide a resource on the subject. About us. The different groups on the estuary and their various websites are easily viewed from the Severn Estuary Gateway.
State of the Severn Estuary Report
This document is set to be the first in a series that reports on the state of and changes in the natural and human environment of the Severn Estuary, establishing baseline data in the context of climate and other coastal change.
One of the main objectives was to inform a wide ranging audience, including local people and industry professionals alike, on why the Estuary is so unique by providing a non-technical overview of the Estuary environment; focusing on its uses and resources.
Future editions of the report will focus on the identification and analysis of a robust set of sustainability indicators, which can not only be used to determine the health of the Estuary environment and its resources, but will also aid in the development of effective management measures.
The ‘State of the Severn Estuary Report’ has been produced by the Severn Estuary Partnership and Cardiff University, in collaboration with the Environment Agency (Wales). With support from the Interreg IVb IMCORE project, the report has been developed to incorporate contributions from the University’s lecturers, local industries, stakeholders and even Estuary residents – such as Miranda Krestovnikoff, presenter of the BBC’s Coast series – who kindly wrote the foreword and launched the summary document at the 2011 annual Severn Estuary Forum.