In UK Ocean Tides to Power More Than 155,000 Homes

In UK Ocean Tides to Power More Than 155,000 Homes

The estuary of the River Severn in the Swansea Bay, in the southwestern part of the U.K., has the second highest tide difference in the world, especially in spring. This is the reason why it was chosen to build a plant that will use ocean tides to generate electricity.

Power plants using ocean tides to generate electricity have been built since 1996, but the Swansea Lagoon plant is the first to employ a completely new method.

The “Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon” project will exploit tides to generate 420 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year of renewable electricity, enough to power 155,000 homes for 120 years.

Watch the video:

Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay from Preconstruct on Vimeo.

 

The project:

Its 9.5 km barrier will create an 11.5 km2 artificial lagoon. As the tide goes out, water in the lagoon will be 8.2 m higher than the water outside its walls. The water pressure inside the lagoon will be routed through 26 turbines that will generate electricity. The flow is reversed at high tide: when the sea reaches maximum height, water is allowed to flow into the lagoon through the turbines. The amount of water rushing through the turbines would fill 100,000 Olympic swimming pools each day.

Construction is planned to begin in autumn 2016 and it will be a major step forward for the UK’s transition to a low CO2 emission energy system. When the plant is finished, it will produce enough electricity to displace 250,000 barrels of oil each year, thus avoiding emission of 236,000 tons of CO2.

The estimated cost of the plant is 1.4 billion euros, mainly based on government subsidies for 35 years, but builders suggested that they may give up most subsidies in return for approval by Government of two similar plants to be built at Cardiff and Newport

The Swansea Bay Lagoon will not only generate clean electricity at a lower cost; it will also bring economic and social benefits (jobs, cultural and recreational activities, etc.) to the local community. The plant may also be used as an aquaculture farm to grow oysters, kelp and other local sea crops, and as a sports arena for sailing. Promenade walkways and cycle paths will be put on the lagoon wall. The designers of the facility plan to place sea creatures sculptures that appear and disappear into the water as the tides roll in and out.

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