Feeds

Gov axes £35bn Severn Barrage tide-energy scheme

Shadow minister laments loss of '100s of Green jobs'

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Controversial plans by the former government to build a massive tidal-power barrage across the Severn estuary have been scrapped. Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, announcing the decision this morning, said the scheme's costs were "excessive".

In theory the door remains open for private business to build a tidal-power scheme of some sort in the Severn, but a project of any size is extremely unlikely as a huge government subsidy would be required to help it to break even.

A range of plans had previously been shortlisted in a government feasibility study, the most ambitious of which would have seen a massive barrage spanning the Bristol Channel from Weston-super-Mare to Cardiff on the Welsh coast. This plan, according to the government's assessment, would produce 17 terawatt-hours each year: about 4.8 per cent of present-day UK electricity demand, or approximately half a per cent of the UK's total energy requirements.

Unfortunately, the cost of such a barrage was estimated at more than £35bn. A modern nuclear powerplant producing the same energy would cost less than £5bn, and thus private sector investors would expect the government to pay most of the costs of building the barrage if they were to make any money selling electricity from it.

Unsurprisingly, given economic developments, the long-running feasibility study has concluded that there is no reason why the government should do this.

"The study clearly shows that there is no strategic case at this time for public funding of a scheme to generate energy in the Severn estuary," said Huhne.

The plans were doubly unlikely to gain approval, as the vociferous Green movement - normally solidly behind any renewable power project - was lukewarm or actively hostile to all the larger plans, which would have seen vast amounts of important bird habitat destroyed.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said the cancellation was "equally disastrous for the Welsh economy and our environment," arguing that a barrage would have "created hundreds of good quality green jobs for Welsh people".

Taken all round, the Severn remains perhaps the best location in the world for tidal power, but the high cost of exploiting it and the unpopularity of doing so seem set to leave its potential untapped for the foreseeable future.

The government's feasibility study details are here, and more coverage from the BBC here. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.