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Severn Estuary Tidal Power - Resource Page

Photo of the Severn Crossing, by Jonny Page Photo Credit: Jonny Page

Tidal Power in the Severn Estuary and Inner Bristol Channel


Since the UK Government is committed to generating 20% of the nation's energy from renewable sources by 2020, tidal power in the Severn Estuary could contribute significantly to this target, particularly given the estuary’s high tidal range (second highest in the world). However any schemes are inevitably going to have a range of impacts, from those on habitats and wildlife to those on shipping and ports.

For these reasons tidal power in the Severn Estuary has never been far from the headlines with a range of proposals, including various barrages, tidal lagoons and other schemes, being discussed and debated at both national and local levels.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change has announced (9th June) that it has given the Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay proposal development consent.


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Tidal Lagoons


What is a Tidal Lagoon

A harbour- type structure closing off a tidal sea area, and incorporating hydro turbines through which the sea moves to generate electricity.

Further explanation and video (BBC)


Currently, there are various proposals to harness the tidal power in the estuary and parts of the Bristol Channel as well as at other sites in the UK, potentially providing up to 10% of the UK's electricity needs.  Around the estuary/Bristol Channel:

  • Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay
    • The world’s first, man-made, energy-generating lagoon, with a 320MW installed capacity and 14 hours of reliable generation every day.
    • Renewable and predictable power for over 155,000 homes (equivalent to 90% of Swansea Bay's annual domestic electricity use) for 120 years.
  • Tidal Lagoon Cardiff
    • The UK's first full-scale energy-generating lagoon, with between 1,800MW and 2,800MW installed capacity
    • Renewable and predictable power, enough to power all Welsh homes, for 120 years


Severn Barrage


What is a Tidal Barrage

A dam-like structure spanning a tidal estuary or  inlet. It utilises the potential energy (from the difference in height between high and low tides) to generate electricity

Further explanation (Wyre Tidal Energy)


Over the last decade or so, there has been considerable interest in a range of barrage proposals for the Estuary and Inner Bristol Channel.  These have included:

  • The Cardiff – Weston Barrage: from Lavernock Point near Penarth to Brean Down near Weston-super-Mare (2013).
    • This proposal was promoted by Hafren Power, a private sector consortium including major engineering and construction companies (2013).
  • The Government’s Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study Consultation on a range of barrage and lagoon options (2008 – 2010)
    • this explored a range of technologies, including several barrage alignments.  The study aimed 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 bring lasting benefits to local communities. 


Websites, Reports and Conferences

All website links correct as of 10/06/2015, please contact if you find any that are broken.

Tidal Power Links in the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel


About the Severn Estuary Partnership

At the Severn Estuary Partnership, we aim to keep all of our stakeholders informed of renewable energy developments and proposals that are happening within, or will have an impact on, the Severn Estuary, acting as a neutral facilitator, encouraging discussion and debate.

Your comments - we welcome comments on the proposal and aim to provide a summary of these within our monthly E-news. Get in touch now!

Your actions - if you are holding any meetings or workshops related to the Cardiff Tidal Lagoon proposal, please get in touch to include in our next E-news edition.

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.

State of the Severn Estuary Report

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.

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