Thursday, April 27, 2006

Barrages, lagoons, or marine current turbines?

A Severn barrage is proposed by the Welsh Assembly to generate 6% of our electricity. But conservationists argue that a lagoon is better.

Today's You and Yours on BBC R4 exmained the pros and cons, with a debate between greens, WAG's Andrew Davies and renewables academic Dave Elliot of the OU, who argued for marine current turbines.

Listen to it here. Scroll to half way along the programme.

Speakers suggested that lagoons are less well tested than barrages, ie an unknown quantity, and would require public money (not true according to Tidal Electric).

Also that the tidal barrage at La Rance in France has actually increased biodiversity.

The RSPB says it's the wrong sort of biodiversity (not what is there now). And that the £15bn (private finance all according to Taylor Woodrow's consortium) would be better spent on many more smaller projects.

Davies says that global warming will alter the biodiversity anyway.

Dave Elliott, who has been writing for 30 years on renewable energy, says that marine current turbines are cheaper than either of these options.

"15% of UK electricity could be obtained from these, built on the sea bed, and each could be built in a matter of weeks as the money became available." We should do this first he says, and the barrage, maybe, later.

Elliott says that the barrage could produce electricity at the wrong times sometimes. But this could be stored in fuel cells/hydrogen.

The barrage project now heads for evaluation, over at Westminster.

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