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Tide runs in favour of new £500m Solway renewable power project

The Solway Firth is at the centre of £500 million proposals to build a mile-long dam between England and Scotland fitted with energy-generating turbines, the Sunday Herald can reveal. The proposed tidal barrage, subject of a £60,000-£100,000 feasibility study commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Northwest Regional Development Agency (NRDA), would stretch over the River Solway from Annan in Dumfries & Galloway to Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria.

Underwater turbines could produce up to 300MW of power as part of Scotland-to-England dam

The SolwayFirth is at the centre of 500 million proposals to build a mile-long dam between England and Scotland fitted with energy-generating turbines, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

The proposed tidal barrage, subject of a 60,000-100,000 feasibility study commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Northwest Regional Development Agency (NRDA), would stretch over the River Solway from Annan in Dumfries & Galloway to Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria.

Through a series of underwater turbines playing a similar role to those in hydroelectric dams, the projected barrage would be capable of producing up to 300MW of power - the equivalent of a medium-large wind farm. It is also being seen as a means of strengthening flood defences to prevent a recurrence of the 2005 Carlisle flood disaster, also as a rail and road crossing of the river, and potential tourist attraction: Nigel Catterson, chairman of Carlisle social enterprise company NB21C which is promoting the study, said: "North Cumbria and... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Underwater turbines could produce up to 300MW of power as part of Scotland-to-England dam

The Solway Firth is at the centre of £500 million proposals to build a mile-long dam between England and Scotland fitted with energy-generating turbines, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

The proposed tidal barrage, subject of a £60,000-£100,000 feasibility study commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Northwest Regional Development Agency (NRDA), would stretch over the River Solway from Annan in Dumfries & Galloway to Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria.

Through a series of underwater turbines playing a similar role to those in hydroelectric dams, the projected barrage would be capable of producing up to 300MW of power - the equivalent of a medium-large wind farm. It is also being seen as a means of strengthening flood defences to prevent a recurrence of the 2005 Carlisle flood disaster, also as a rail and road crossing of the river, and potential tourist attraction: Nigel Catterson, chairman of Carlisle social enterprise company NB21C which is promoting the study, said: "North Cumbria and south west Scotland suffer in exactly the same way from being at the edge of regions. They are marginalised to a large extent and forgotten. We are suggesting that if we could come together as a gateway region at the centre of the UK we can start to create a new kind of impression around that."

Allison MacColl, manager of the Scottish Enterprise industries team for the south region, said that the proposals originally date back to the 1960s. The plans were revived by local environmental groups in the wake of similar larger plans for the River Severn and recent research by Liverpool University into the tidal energy potential of rivers discharging into the eastern Irish Sea.

The research found that the Solway was the most promising of the rivers in the region, and was the second most powerful tidal estuary in the country after the Severn Scotland's Pentland Firth, described as "the Saudi Arabia of tidal power", is a strait, not an estuary.

The Solway idea is being pushed by a Liverpool-based group of tidal energy enthusiasts called the Northwest Tidal Energy Group as well as NB21C, which sought public financial backing for the project to assess its viability. It is hoped that the study will be completed by October.

MacColl said: "It could be a substantial contributor to the Scottish renewable energy targets. The study will give us an idea of what technical solution is best and whether there are any showstoppers.

"We have been talking to the Scottish government and a lot of interested parties, and there seems to be a healthy interest in the project. But there's a long way to go before anything would be realised. Any barrage would need the backing and co-operation of the Westminster and Holyrood governments."

The project reflects the growing popularity of tidal barrages as a means of contributing to renewables targets. As well as the Severn project, barrages are being proposed on Cumbria's Duddon river, the Conway in Wales and the Mersey by Liverpool.

The only substantial example in operation in the world is on La Rance by St Malo in Brittany, which produces about 240MW of power, although there are two much smaller barrages at the reverse-tide Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada and Kislaya Guba in northwestern Russia.

The Severn Barrage project, for which studies began two years ago, is far larger than that proposed for the Solway Firth. It would stretch 15 miles, cost £20bn and power around five million homes or 5% of UK domestic electricity needs. Aside from the huge cost, the proposal has been controversial for environmental reasons and awaits a final decision from the UK government, due next year.

Nigel Catterson said that the Solway project could be completed within about four years of completing the study. This would include about two years for environmental observation, six months to obtain planning consents and up to two years for construction.

He said: "It's a very good site because you've got a concentration of flow at that point in the river. There was also a rail crossing there originally, so there is historic evidence to say that the geological basis is reasonably sound to build on.

"It's also within three miles of a grid connection at former power station Chapelcross."

Although Catterson conceded that it would be cheaper to spend the money on wind turbines, he said that they had a shelf-life of 25 years compared to 125 years for barrage equipment.


Source: http://www.sundayherald.com...

JUN 20 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20738-tide-runs-in-favour-of-new-500m-solway-renewable-power-project
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