Good Energy, which already has several solar farms in the pipeline and operates wind farms in Delabole and Hampole, is set to add another string to its bow: a project in Swansea Bay could connect tidal power to the National Grid by 2020, as other power stations are closed down.
The Severn Estuary holds the second highest tidal range in the world, and Swansea Bay benefits from an average tidal range of 8.5m during spring tides. The potential to harness this power through tidal lagoons could seriously boost renewable energy in Wales – and the UK.
For Good Energy, this is the logical next step in securing renewable electricity for its growing customer base, on top of helping the UK secure its long-term energy future.
Juliet Davenport, CEO and founder of Good Energy, said, ‘Just as the sun will always rise and set, and the winds continue to blow, so too will our tides ebb and flow. All offer us the potential for sources of renewable electricity that will never run out, or be beholden to overseas price wars, and tidal energy offers an improvement, in that it is particularly predictable.’
Challenges for UK energy
The UK’s electricity demand is increasing, yet generating capacity is declining because of our ageing power infrastructure. This is a big enough challenge on its own – add the dwindling global fossil fuel reserves, the instability of many fossil fuels’ countries of origin and the need to decarbonise power generation in the face of the threat of climate change and it becomes larger still.
Finding viable alternatives to fossil fuels is essential and the UK has made legally binding commitments to deliver 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Currently, just 5% of our power is renewably sourced, and some forms of low carbon energy are controversial or plain unsuitable for the UK.
Tidal lagoons could be an alternative way to deliver long-term, low-cost, reliable and predictable power to UK communities, independent of weather events. The Swansea Bay project has developed a way to draw upon existing, proven technology to generate cost-effective renewable power from high tidal ranges, such as those found in Swansea Bay and the wider Severn Estuary. The project embraces tidal lagoons as a vital part of our energy mix, and hopes to start a worldwide tidal range industry kick-started from South Wales.