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Enhancing Tidal Ranges for UK’s Electricity Generation

According to researchers, tidal range schemes are economically feasible and have the potential to minimize energy bills.

The research published in Energy demonstrates the benefits of tidal energy. Image Credit: Lancaster University

The work by the School of Engineering and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology of Lancaster University integrated a tidal range power generation model and its cost model to establish the feasibility of tidal power.

The obvious question for the UK, with one of the best tidal resources globally, is why haven't we already got a tidal barrage scheme?

George Aggidis, Professor and Head, Energy Engineering, Lancaster University

Energy published this study, which details the advantages of tidal energy, which is not affected by volatile intermittency as power is produced both day and night.

The tidal barrage creation could function for over 120 years to fulfill future demand and storage issues.

There is an urgent need to kick-start the selection and development of schemes around Britain. Tidal range generation is predictable renewable energy driven by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun. The environmental and economic benefits are huge as barrages can protect coastal areas from flooding and sea level rise. With two-way generation and pumping, the full range of existing tides can be maintained within impoundments to protect and support low-lying intertidal areas such as saltmarshes and mudflats.

George Aggidis, Professor and Head, Energy Engineering, Lancaster University

“Our studies show that with modern technology and operating procedures, estuarine barrages are the only practical way to protect these vital habitats. Coastal lagoons have also been proposed for several locations around Britain’s coast. Schemes will provide jobs in construction and manufacturing for generations to come as well as opportunities for transport, communication, conservation, and recreation. In the long-term they will provide reliable power with reduced costs,” added Aggidis.

The United Kingdom has the second-highest tidal range across the globe. This grants the UK a certain amount of independence from the global market, and in the long term, a source of cheap, clean power.
The UK has the second-highest tidal range in the world and offers the UK a level of independence from global prices and in the long-term cheap clean power.

At present, the Tidal Range projects under commercial consideration provide an attainable 10 GW installed capacity, offering more than 20TWh/y, around 5% of UK energy use. Depending on the availability of the UK’s relevant resources, there is the possibility to further enhance this installed capacity more than 4 to 5 times with other tidal range project sites across the UK.

Those developments are needed to aid the UK in minimizing its carbon emissions by exchanging fossil fuel power stations. The existing UK total generating capacity is approximately 42.8 GW, which comprises renewables (16.5GW, 38.5%), fossil fuels (19.2GW 44.9%), and low carbon (7.1GW - 16.6%). Today, the La Rance Tidal Range plant in France produces the most inexpensive electricity in the EDF fleet, which is cheaper than nuclear.

Journal Reference:

Vandercruyssen, D., et al. (2023). Tidal range power generation: case studies combining the Lancaster 0-D generation and cost models. Energy.


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