Severn Tidal Fence: study on potential alternative to Severn Barrage

Posted: Thursday 15th October 2009

The STFC (Severn Tidal Fence Consortium) has appointed Metoc to provide expert advice on environmental impacts and mitigation in the key areas of construction, fisheries, tidal water levels and sediment transport in the Severn Estuary. Following an announcement by DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) on the 15th July, the STFC is now confirmed as a successful bidder to share in the SETS (Severn Embryonic Technology Scheme) fund.

The SETS £500K cross-government fund is to stimulate and explore the potential for a reduced impact on the natural environment of conventional tidal technologies for energy generation – such as the proposed Severn Barrage.

The Severn Tidal Fence is a line of underwater tidal current turbines that could be installed across the estuary, and installed in such a way as to force the maximum flow through the turbines. Unlike a barrage, the Fence is a porous structure and does not completely obstruct flow through the estuary. Two sites are being considered, an Outer Fence from Aberthaw to Minehead and an Inner Fence, 9 km in length, in three 3km sections, passing near to the Estuary’s two main islands. Costing an estimated £3.5bn the Outer Fence would have a capacity of 1.3GW – more than Sizewell B nuclear power station.

Nick Barcock, Metoc’s Regional Director in Cardiff, says “We are excited to be involved in such an important project. The consortium believes the scheme would have minimal effect on the ports of Cardiff and Bristol; a much reduced impact on water levels in the estuary; and significantly less impact on fish and wild life”

The STFC is headed by IT Power and CleanTechCom has brought additional co-financing to the study, which will be supported by technical expertise from Metoc, NaREC, BMT Fleet Technology, Edinburgh University, Marubeni, and Sigma Offshore.

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