The billion euro project, called Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay, was announced earlier this week, and it aims to build six tidal lagoons in Wales, Somerset and Cumbria, where tides will be captured and the water will be used to power turbines.
An official submission of the planning application is expected to be handed in by 2017, and if all goes well, the tidal lagoons should begin operation by 2022. The total cost of the project is £30 billion (US $46 billion), £1 billion of which is already secured under the Swansea scheme, guaranteeing a sufficient energy output to power over 150,000 households. The rest is supposed to come from bill payers under a governmental scheme for low-carbon energy.
The investment is pretty huge, but it seems it is justified. Considering that the UK has probably the biggest tidal ranges in the world, it is almost a waste not to make use of this green power. What is more, the scale of engineering that is required, and the areas along which the lagoons will stretch, are very big- something along the lines of 5 miles of coast line plus 2 miles out to sea, and as many as 90 turbines per lagoon.
The turbines will capture the morning and the evening tides, and they should be generating electricity for up to 14 hours a day. Each lagoon will have a sea wall, which captures the water, and acts like a gate. High tides, mean the gate is closed, resulting in a water build-up outside the lagoon. Once there is sufficient amount of water, the gate opens and lets the water enter the lagoon at high speed, passing through the turbines and filling up the lagoon. The water remains there until low tides are reached, when the gate opens and releases the water back again.
The energy that is generated by the waves will be cheaper, will not pose any risks like nuclear power, and will be much more predictable than other renewable sources. As specialists in the field say, the initial investment is big, but the payoff will be even bigger.
Image (c) Tidal Lagoon