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Brian Westenhaus

Brian Westenhaus

Brian is the editor of the popular energy technology site New Energy and Fuel. The site’s mission is to inform, stimulate, amuse and abuse the…

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Protecting Coasts and Powering Homes: The Tidal Range Revolution

  • Tidal range power generation, as proposed by Lancaster University, can safeguard habitats and coasts from sea level rise while providing sustainable energy.
  • Misconceptions about tidal barrages have hindered their development, despite their potential to maintain current tide levels and support eco-sensitive areas.
  • The UK, with the world's second-largest tidal range, could benefit from tidal power generation for long-term reliable power and coastal protection.

Lancaster University researchers David Vandercruyssen, Simon Baker, David Howard and George Aggidis from the School of Engineering have said that tidal range schemes are vital to protect habitats, housing and businesses from a rising sea level estimated to be over one meter within 80 years.

The research report published in Energy (an open access paper), follows on from earlier Lancaster University research into a combined tidal range electricity generation and cost model demonstrating the viability of tidal range energy in the UK. This showed how it is possible to maintain the full tidal range within existing dams or weirs.

Tidal range schemes can protect estuaries and coastal areas from the effects of sea level rise, according to the researchers. High tides can be limited to existing levels simply by closing sluices and turbines and existing low tide levels can be maintained by pumping. Development of estuarine barrages has been hampered by misconceptions about their operation and fears of disturbance of the ecologically sensitive intertidal areas.

Postgraduate researcher David Vandercruyssen offered, “High tides can be limited to existing levels simply by closing sluices and turbines and existing low tide levels can be maintained by pumping.”

Professor George Aggidis, Head of Energy Engineering, noted, “Development of estuarine barrages has been hampered by misconceptions about their operation and fears of disturbance of the ecologically sensitive intertidal areas.

“Our studies show that with modern technology and operating procedures, estuarine barrages are the only practical way to protect these vital habitats. Coastal lagoons have also been proposed for several locations around Britain’s coast. Schemes will provide jobs in construction and manufacturing for generations to come as well as opportunities for transport, communication, conservation and recreation. In the long-term they will provide reliable power with reduced costs.”

Professor Aggidis concluded with, “Great Britain has the second largest tidal range in the world and major barrages have been considered since Victorian times. Globally, there are two large scale schemes currently in operation, La Rance in France which was completed in 1967 and Lake Sihwa in South Korea from 2011; both schemes generate significant quantities of cheap sustainable electricity.”

***

This is probably a good enough idea all by itself for the UK. The madness there about global warming is about as destructive to an economy as been seen so far anywhere. Absent evidence and in the face of total projection failures for the warming catastrophe -better ideas need exploited and quickly.

They’re going to need the power. If they can stand the investment and running costs it would be best if the UK gets on with it.

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By Brian Westenhaus via New Energy and Fuel 

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