Project Updates

  • Mersey Tidal Power Feasibility Study

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  • Three tidal power scheme options to be assessed with input from local communities

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  • Consultation on Mersey Tidal Power approach to sustainability appraisal

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  • Technology options put forward to generate tidal power from the Mersey Estuary

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  • Power from the Mersey feasibility study

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Technology options put forward to generate tidal power from the Mersey Estuary

March 2010

The Mersey Tidal Power project has passed a notable milestone with the completion of the first stage of a major feasibility study designed to select a preferred scheme for generating electricity from the tides within the Mersey Estuary.

A rigorous technical screening of a wide range of tidal power options has been performed. This assessment has resulted in the selection of four main technologies that will be taken forward for fuller analysis.
The four technologies selected are:

  • a tidal barrage incorporating conventional turbines similar to those routinely used in low head hydroelectric power applications;
  • a tidal power gate – which could perform as a very low-head barrage – containing a grid of specially designed, smaller turbines This is the kind of technology used to produce power from, for example, reservoir spillways and sluices;
  • a tidal fence – a means of capturing energy from the natural or constrained velocity of the tidal flow – with either horizontal- or vertical-axis turbines designed for generating electricity in open streams;
  • an alternative tidal fence based on a new proprietary device that concentrates the energy contained in a large body of slow-moving water into a smaller body of fast-flowing water using the Venturi effect.
  • This list may be revised and developed as the study proceeds and further information becomes available.

    The feasibility study is being led jointly by a consulting team comprising Scott Wilson, Drivers Jonas and EDF, on behalf of Peel Energy and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). The study team strived to include as many relevant technologies as possible in the
    assessment. Existing and emerging technologies for use in a range of water depths were examined, and consideration was given to work on tidal power generation from the Mersey stretching back nearly 30 years – schemes have emerged in the past for generating up to 700
    MW of electricity from the estuary. The study also took account of similar work being done to assess the possibility of generating power from the tides within the Severn Estuary and of a related government-backed programme to promote new tidal power technologies, the Severn
    Embryonic Technologies Scheme (SETS).

    “This initial selection of technically suitable options represents a major step in the process to select a viable tidal power scheme for the Mersey Estuary,” said Anthony Hatton, Development Director, Peel Energy. “Our main aim as we progress the feasibility study is to formulate an acceptable scheme on which we can base a planning application by the end of 2011.

    “There is a long way to go but our goal is to have a tidal power scheme generating electricity from the Mersey in time to contribute to the national target of generating 15% of the UK’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.”

    Peel Energy is working in partnership with the NWDA, and with the support of the Mersey Basin Campaign, to identify a tidal power scheme that meets three prime objectives: the scheme has to be capable of generating a meaningful amount of electricity at a price that the country can afford; the direct impacts on the environment, shipping, local businesses and communities must be kept to acceptable levels (in determining their acceptability, measures may need to be provided to mitigate or compensate for the impacts); and the scheme should be to the maximum possible benefit of the region in a socio-economic and environmental sense.

    An important socio-economic benefit of the scheme would be the development of the skills, facilities, and the supply chains, to establish the region as a recognised centre for renewable energy development. Other benefits might be local infrastructure improvements and the creation of leisure and tourist opportunities.

    Speaking for the NWDA, Stephen Broomhead, Chief Executive, said, “The Mersey Tidal Power project has the capacity to provide both national and regional benefits. It stands to make a significant contribution to reducing the UK’s carbon emissions, essential if we are to counter the effects of climate change. At the same time, it will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the region in terms of promoting growth and reinforcing the regeneration we have witnessed in recent years.”

    The Mersey Estuary has one of the largest tidal ranges in the country and is a prime location for a tidal power scheme; it has previously been shown that a substantial scheme in the estuary could satisfy the electricity needs of a large part of the Liverpool City Region. In the next stage of the feasibility study, indicative sites within the estuary where the different technologies could be best deployed will be identified and possible scheme layouts established.

    Once this is done it will be possible to move the assessment forward on three fronts. There will be an economic analysis that looks at the likely energy yields of the different schemes set against their anticipated construction and operating costs. Each of the schemes will be evaluated from the standpoint of their impact on the natural environmental, a crucial part of the study in an area internationally recognised for its ecological richness and diversity. And there will be a socioeconomic analysis focused on the effects of the different schemes on the shipping industry, businesses in the region and, not least, local communities.

    The findings of this initial part of the study are captured in the so-called “Stage 1 Options Report” which is available from the project website www.merseytidalpower.co.uk. As part of the report, the team has also put out a call for information to allow anyone to come forward and feed relevant ideas or information into the study.

    "Throughout the course of the process, in the run up to a planning application, the project team will engage extensively with everyone that has a stake in the project,” said Hatton. “We will be totally open about the different options under consideration and will seek to stimulate a discussion that includes local authorities and organisations and especially the people who live in the areas
    surrounding the possible scheme sites.