The UK government has axed current plans for the world’s biggest tidal energy project across the Severn Estuary claiming it would be expensive and too high-risk, although the option for development has been left open for future consideration.
The results of a two-year feasibility study, published today, suggests that there is no strategic case for major public sector investment in a large-scale energy project in the Severn estuary at this time, with reports stating that would be very costly to deliver and it would be difficult to attract the necessary investment from the private sector alone.
The Severn Tidal Power feasibility study showed that a tidal power scheme in the Estuary could cost in excess of £30B, making it high cost and high risk in comparison to other generating options. “Other low carbon options represent a better deal for taxpayers and consumers,” Energy Secretary Chris Huhne commented. “However, with a rich natural marine energy resource, world leading tidal energy companies and universities, and the creation of the innovative Wave Hub facility, the area can play a key role in supporting the UK’s renewable energy future.”
The report did recommend that a Severn tidal project should not be ruled out as a longer term option if market conditions change, but noted significant uncertainty over complying with regulation and that a scheme would fundamentally change the natural environment of the estuary.
The Severn tidal energy proposal involved a 10 mile long barrage between two towns on opposite sides of the Bristol Channel. The project had raised a great deal of opposition from environmental and wildlife campaigners because of its probable effect on the biodiversity of the Severn Estuary and the possibliity that it will cause flooding in the region.