Severn Tidal Barrage Should Not Be Built, New Report Claims


photo by Tim Britton

A new report released today by Frontier Economics has found that the Severn Barrage is "expensive compared to other renewables and that the government could use cheaper green technologies in its attempt to meet its renewables targets."

Tidal Power More Expensive Than Other Renewables
The study, commissioned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the National Trust and WWF-UK, found that the £15 billion (US$29 billion) project would be far better spent on more proven technologies such as wind, hydro or solar. "Even using the most conservative estimates of costs, the barrage is one of the most expensive options for clean energy there is," report author Matthew Bell told Reuters.What's more, the report came to its conclusions without even considering the environmental impact on the sensitive local ecology. According to David Mussbaum of WWF-UK "Financial support for an expensive, inflexible and highly damaging technology like the proposed Severn barrage would not be a good use of taxpayer's money."

Plans to Harness the Severn Have Long History
Proposals for harnessing the power of the Severn estuary go back as far as 1849 (yes, eighteen) when Thomas Fulljames suggested damming the river to build a shipping harbor and for flood control. Over the 20th century at least a dozen proposals or studies were conducted on the feasibility of generating electricity from the Severn. The most recent incarnation of these tidal plans proposes building a 10-mile long barrage from Cardiff to Weston-super-Mare which would generate 8.6 GW of clean power and meet 5% of Britain's power needs.


Two different concepts for the Severn, a century and a half apart. Thomas Fulljames' idea (top) & a modern conception rendering (bottom).

via :: Reuters and :: The Telegraph
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