For this Blog post, I want to talk about a great engineering project which after many stalls, delays and re-thinks Britain may soon be about to undertake, the Tidal Lagoon Project.
This nation has had a long history of leading the way in engineering, Stephenson and his Rocket, Brunel and the SS Great Britain, Parsons with the compound steam engine and Wallis with his bouncing bombs to list a few of my go-to names. We are however traditionally a nation of people close to the land and the sea that brings us habitation and sustenance so it is only right that from these two great traditions we find a way to move the country forward in an environmentally-conscious fashion.
The method of Hydroelectric power is not a new concept, and with us being an island race we should really be looking to make the most of this. If built as planned, however, the Tidal Lagoon in Swansea bay will be the first full-scale project completed of its size.
The BBC recently ran an article updating us on the prospect of this project, showing a large amount of support from industry experts and peer reviews to suggest that it should be this government which makes the decision to proceed with the project.
The planned lagoon at Swansea will in itself provide thousands of jobs but will be the first in 6 planned power stations around the UK mainland carefully selected in order to make the most of the high tidal range and speed that would give generous power supplies.
Using turbines which work in both directions (incoming and outgoing tide), power will be provided almost 24 hours a day with 4 peak high generation times of the day. The generators are safe and use no fuel, making it 100% clean and renewable.
The completed project (all six sites) will also be able to generate approximately 8% of all of the UK’s energy needs all year round and provide it cheaper than the power from the Hinkley C power station.
I really struggle to see a downside here.
The cost of the project is high, with the Swansea site being estimated at £1.3B (let’s be honest, it will overspend at some point so we can expect to be higher), but remember Hinkley C I just mentioned? The large nuclear power station in Somerset, the estimated cost for this station now stands at £29.7B and the operational time is estimated to be 60 years! (again remembering that while it can provide a lot of power, it does so more expensively than the renewable option)
I am no expert in this area but looking at all that I see, I cannot understand why more effort is not put into renewable energy projects. I appreciate that 8% is not all our energy needs, but surely we should be prioritising the clean renewable sources first and then looking at traditional fuel second?
We should be using more solar energy too. Except a small amount of well used geothermal energy all the energy that we have comes from the sun. At the moment we are using energy the sun stored in plants many years ago, which has over time turned into oil. Essentially to me, the sun is still giving the energy it gave before, except we are dead plants as storage – death is the middle man here! Let’s skip over that and get the power more directly.
And a brief point going back to the Tidal Lagoon project, it also helps defend from flooding and will provide thousands of secure jobs – this project should be welcomed to south wales like a brother.