Tidal Electric’s offshore project
1st July, 2003
Could the latest type of tidal-power generator be environmentally benign and deliver cheap, dependable and sustainable energy?
Offshore tidal power
The construction of a revolutionary new tidal power station, which promises to supply half the power needs for a city the size of Swansea, is due to begin early next year.
Tidal Electric’s £35m project, the first of its kind in the world, is to be built in Swansea Bay, South Wales, and is scheduled to start production in late 2005. There are currently two commercial-scale tidal power stations in operation around the world: a 240-megawatt plant at La Rance near St Malo in Brittany, and a 16-megawatt facility at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada. The development of further projects has been held back by a range of significant environmental and logistical problems, including:
• tidal-power barrages confuse and kill migratory fish, which must pass through the turbines to access estuaries or seas – the mortality rate is around 6 per cent;
• navigation channels become blocked – locks can be installed, as at St Malo in France, but access is slow and expensive;
• barrages change the size and location of the inter-tidal zone;
• barrages can alter the tidal cycle and change water levels – local wildlife...
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