Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tidal Energy from the Severn - Small is Beautiful

No comments:
Its good to see the Severn Barrage issue covered in the Bristol Evening Post (‘Barrage Fans in Severn Heaven Now’, May 22) but why is the debate currently so narrowly focussed? I was disappointed to read about ‘the scheme’ discussed as if the only way to extract the energy is by going for the well publicised ten mile barrage.

Many agree that we have a fantastic natural, renewable resource here that we can and should harness energy from. However, its seems that we still have not acknowledged that the scale of a development is often a key feature of whether it is green or not. Have we forgotten that famous green book ‘Small is Beautiful’ by EF Schumacher?

The huge scale of the ten mile barrage means huge costs and significant potential for costs to spiral due to the unforeseen technical problems and time delays that so often arise on such projects. If we in the UK cant build Wembley Stadium on time and within budget can we expect to build a £14 billion, ten mile long barrage as originally intended?

Yes, a feasibility study into tidal energy from the Severn is a very good idea but it would be very short-sighted not to study other energy extraction methods such as tidal lagoons and tidal stream turbines (already being researched off the Devon Coast) at the same time. If we don’t get the technological assessment method right we could be missing out on the scheme that best combines effective and efficient energy generation with minimal environmental impacts.