Canadian Consulting Engineer

UK company plans lagoons on the ocean to generate tidal power

March 10, 2015

Lagoon Tidal Power's scheme for Swansea Bay, Wales.

Lagoon Tidal Power’s scheme for Swansea Bay, Wales.

A U.K. company has submitted plans to build huge lagoons that would capture the energy of the twice-daily incoming and outgoing tides to generate power. As reported by BBC News, there are plans for six massive constructions at locations along the west coast of England and Wales.

At Swansea in South Wales, for example, plans have been submitted for a lagoon that will be five miles long and will stretch out to sea for two miles.

The system would operate similar to lock gates: as the tide rises the sea water is held back by the lagoon gates, then allowed to gush through turbines into the lagoon, generating power. When the tide goes out, the water inside the lagoon is released to flow back through the turbines.

A company called Tidal Lagoon Power is proposing six different sites, four along the coast of Wales, one to the south in Somerset, and one to the north in Cumbria. It has already applied for planning permission for the Swansea lagoon.

Costs will be high initially but the company says that once the capital costs are paid off, the cost of energy will be extremely cheap and the source will be predictable.

The turbines are expected to be active 14 hours a day, and just one of the lagoons will be able to produce enough energy for 155,000 homes. Altogether the six lagoons could generate 8% of the UK’s electricity for an investment of 30 billion pounds (approximately Cdn. $57 billion). The company wants to charge 168 pounds per MWh for the power from Swansea, but would expect only 90-95 pounds per MWh from a more economical proposed plant in Cardiff. That figure is comparable to the estimated cost of power estimated from a new proposed nuclear station in the U.K.

With many Britons objecting to the proliferation of wind turbines offshore along their coasts, it remains to be seen whether the plans will be approved.

The ocean tides are caused by the moon’s gravity and occur twice in 24 hours. Mark Shorrock, the chief executive officer of Tidal Lagoon Power, told the BBC, “We have a wonderful opportunity to create energy from the dance between the moon and the earth.”

To see the BBC article, click here.

To find out more about Tidal Lagoon Power, click here.




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