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Mersey Tidal Power Project

 

On a cold November evening we had the benefit of an excellent lecture on the “Mersey Tidal Power Project”.

The evening started with a cold finger buffet and an opportunity for the attendees to meet each other.

The lecture was opened by Jamie Willgress (project manager) who gave us the background to tidal power. Jamie explained that tidal flows in the UK contain a huge amount of energy that can be extracted and used for power generation.In addition to being zero carbon one of the main advantages of Tidal over other renewable forms of power (e.g. solar and wind) is it’s predictability. He explained that the tidal flows around the coast of the UK happen at different times (e.g. there is a 4 hr difference between South and North Wales) giving considerable potential to manage power supply and demand.

 

Shaun Benzon (Head of Tidal Development) then went into more detail on how the estuary of the Mersey could be used for Tidal Power generation.  The idea of generating power using the tidal flow of the River Mersey has been around since the 1920s. He explained the various types of barriers and lagoons that could be used and explained the advantages and disadvantages of these.  In addition to generating power the turbines can also be used to pump water as a means (in effect) of storing power.  He drew on examples of the Rance scheme in France which has been operating since the 1960’s and a more recent scheme in S Korea which was commissioned in 2011.  Shaun went into considerable detail on the modelling work under way to understand the power generation potential of the Mersey Estuary as well as how to minimise the impact on (the significant volume of) maritime traffic .  He outlined some of the options including barriers in various locations and lagoons of various sizes and locations e.g. off shore.  He also explained how the Korean scheme has been constructed and gave a potential time line. 

In conclusion Shaun explained that the Mersey had the potential for more than one scheme. He saw a scenario of starting with a smaller and more affordable scheme before progressing to a larger scheme. He explained that the government was showing increasing interest in the scheme and funding was being provided for the necessary studies.

There followed the usual lively Q&A and discussion which was very illuminating

Overall a great evening and many thanks to the Mersey Tidal project and John Moores University

 

John Pollard
I.Mech.E. Regional Treasurer – Merseyside and N Wales

 
John.Pollard@member.imeche.org 



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