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Tag Archives: tidal power

Can tidal power match wind costs?

By Dave Elliott

Wind power has developed quite rapidly around the world, heading for 500GW soon, with costs falling. On-shore wind is now one of the cheapest renewables. The UK has nearly 10GW on-shore and over 5GW offshore, with the latter expanding and new technology emerging – floating wind turbines.  However tidal power, although mostly at a much earlier stage in its evolution, is making a bid to compete, at least in the medium to long term. Although the Swansea tidal lagoon project will generate at a somewhat higher cost than offshore wind power, and certainly much higher than on-shore wind, it’s claimed that subsequent lagoons should be much cheaper, and tidal stream turbine developers are also confident about price reductions. Will tidal power really get cheap? That may depend on how these technologies get supported in the near future.

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Swansea tidal lagoon ‘should be backed’

By Dave Elliott

The review of tidal lagoons by former energy minister Charles Hendry MP called on the government to start final negotiations with Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd on a CfD strike price so that the construction of the Swansea Bay plant could go ahead. Ministers are expected to respond to the Review before the March budget and, as reported in my last post, some reservations have been expressed about the high cost. Hendry, however, seems to be very enthused. He says it could be a wise test investment, possibly opening up options for cheaper lagoons in the future.    (more…)

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Innovation: new energy for the UK

By Dave Elliott

Technological innovation is exciting but risky: blue skies thinking can open up possibilities, but they also have to be tested against reality. It’s easy to get deceived by early hopeful predictions of potential success and allegedly ‘game changing’ developments. We are regularly hit by blasts of enthusiastic coverage of hi tech innovations in the energy field, but not all of it will prove to be viable (more…)

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UK marine renewables

By Dave Elliott

A report by RenewableUK says that electricity market reforms could act as a springboard for the growth of wave and tidal energy, or could undermine investor confidence in marine power at a crucial stage of the industry’s development. It also highlights challenges such as delays in getting grid connections for wave and tidal projects, and the high cost of transmission charges.

The report, Conquering Challenges, Generating Growth, lays out the progress made so far: 12 full-scale single devices with a capacity of 9 MW deployed in UK waters generating clean electricity – more than the rest of the world combined. It notes that commercialization of the tidal sector is just around the corner, with the deployment of the first arrays (multiple devices) beginning in 2014, and an expected increase to 100–200 MW of wave and tidal installed by 2020. Major engineering firms such as Siemens and Alstom are working with the UK and Scottish governments, universities and electricity companies to develop British marine power. The Crown Estate has awarded leases for more than 1.8 GW of capacity at nearly 40 sites in UK waters. The British Isles has 50% of the total European wave-energy resource and 25% of tidal-energy resource – these technologies could generate up to 20% of the UK’s electricity needs.

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A silly tidal idea?

By Dave Elliott

In a press article, one-time Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain puts the case for the new privately funded tidal barrage across the Severn proposed by Hafren. He says it would “make a greater contribution to tackling climate change than any other green energy project”, supplying “fully 5% of the UK’s electricity (16.5 TWh per year) of clean, low carbon, predictable and therefore base load energy”.

In fact, it would not generate 5% of UK electricity. 16.5 TWh is 4.5% of 2011 demand, and when the barrage might be working (it will take ~10 years to build), demand may have risen above the 2011 level of 365 TWh, even given efforts to cut it. Moreover, it is not base load. Not all the annual output could be used. Due to the daily lunar cycle, peak output would often occur when there was no demand for it, and, at other times, there may be high demand when there is no output, the peaks also shifting by 50 minutes or so each day and varying in size with the spring/neap cycle.

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A barrage too far?

By Dave Elliott

The proposal for a privately funded tidal barrage across the Severn Estuary continues to attract media attention. Last year Peter Hain, former shadow Welsh Secretary, who is backing the idea, had a meeting with David Cameron which he says was a ‘more productive than might have been expected’. Lord Heseltine also included the Barrage as one of the large infrastructure projects he proposed in his recent report to government. The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee has also been looking at it again.

The new barrage proposal is being led by engineering consortium Corlan Hafren, backed by Halcrow, Arup, and Mott MacDonald, and it is claimed that a number of sovereign wealth funds (e.g. Qatar) might provide finance- all in, around £30bn could be needed.

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