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U.K. might reconsider Severn Estuary tidal power proposal

Severn Barrage

Parliament's Energy and Climate Change committee is taking another look at a plan that would produce a US$40 billion, electricity-generating barrage across the Severn Estuary, HydroWorld.com has learned.

Halfren Power's proposed Severn Estuary tidal power project could produce as much as 5% of the United Kingdom's energy, according to a scheme that was rejected previously rejected by Parliament in October 2010.

The government has since said, however, that the Severn River is open for private tidal power development to help the U.K. meet its 15% renewable energy by 2020 goal, leading some to push for reconsideration of the scheme now.

Halfren's proposal -- modified slightly from the one rejected in 2010 -- would create an 11-mile-long barrage between the Vale of Galmorgan and Somerset. The barrage would be dotted with more than 1,000 tidal turbines, which, according to energy trade association RenewableUK, would have a combined capacity equivalent to three nuclear power stations and a life of 120 years.

The plan was rejected in 2010 largely due to environmental concerns, though developer Hafren says its new scheme is more fish-friendly and would reduce the amount of inter-tidal mudflats that would be lost for feeding birds.

Sources said a special Act of Parliament would have to be passed for the plan to become a reality, though U.S. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the government would consider the plan should the right proposals be submitted.

HydroWorld.com reported in January 2009 that the plan was one of several proposals for Severn Estuary shortlisted by the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change .

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