U.K. launches study of Solway Firth tidal power project

British officials have commissioned a consortium led by Halcrow Group Ltd. to study the feasibility of a tidal power project on Solway Firth in the United Kingdom.

Northwest Regional Development Agency, Scottish Enterprise, and the U.K.’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority announced July 2, 2009, that they agreed to commission the 100,000 pound (US$164,000) feasibility study to evaluate options for harnessing tidal power at Solway Firth, on the border of England and Scotland.

The concept of a Solway Energy Gateway is being actively promoted in the form of a tidal barrage at the site of a former railway viaduct that spanned the firth from Bowness in England to Annan in Scotland. Research by Joule Centre and the universities of Liverpool and Lancaster, and earlier studies by Babtie, Shaw, and Morton in the 1960s, highlight the possibility of tidal energy extraction from Solway Firth.

The study is being supported by nb21c (social enterprise) Ltd., the organization responsible for conceiving, developing, and promoting the community-based proposal. A Solway Energy Gateway Steering Group is being formed with representation from both sides of the border, as well as funders and interested parties from the public and private sectors.

Other major tidal energy projects are already under study in other areas of the United Kingdom. The U.K.’s Crown Estate recently received 42 wave and tidal power proposals from 20 bidders for an estimated 700 MW of sites in Scotland’s Pentland Firth. (HydroWorld 6/12/09) Additionally, the U.K. is promoting developer proposals for Severn Estuary, a tidal resource estimated to be as large as 8,600 MW. (HydroWorld 4/20/09)

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