The 66 turbines of the Tidal Lagoon would be nearer Penarth than anywhere else

The 66 turbines of the Tidal Lagoon would be nearer Penarth than anywhere else

New doubts have been raised about ambitious proposals to build a massive electricity-generating tidal lagoon off the foreshores of Penarth and Cardiff.

A similar – but much smaller – scheme for Swansea Bay has now been criticised by a mechanical engineer and former University of California professor Roger Griffiths. Professor Griffiths says no one can be sure the 16  turbines planned for Swansea (66 are planned for Penarth) will work efficiently in both directions (i.e. on the flood tide and the ebb tide).

One of 66 underwater turbines which would generate power but could also decimate fish

One of 66 underwater turbines which would generate power but could also decimate fish

He says there have been no measurements of the  performance of these turbines in reverse flow – when the tide is coming in – nor have they been tested under difficult conditions at the lowest depth of water . Professor Griffiths’s view is backed by tidal engineer Dr Bob Allen, who claims there has been an assumption the turbines would work to the same efficiency with the tide flowing in both directions – an assumption yet to be proved.

Tidal Lagoon Power has now issued a New Year update on the much larger tidal lagoon it proposes to build out in the Bristol Channel off the foreshores of Penarth and Cardiff .

A giant rock-armour sea wall similar tio that planned for Swansea would enclosed the massive lagoon.

A giant rock-armour sea wall similar to that planned for Swansea would enclose the much larger Cardiff/Penarth lagoon and would loop out directly in front of Penarth Pier .

In a press release redolent with planning jargon, Tidal Lagoon Power says it has submitted a report for the Planning Inspectorate’s “Environmental Impact Assessment”.  This document is intended to protect the environment by making sure all potential detrimental effects on the environment are taken into consideration –  and is also to identify what are called “mitigation measures” for situations where “adverse impacts cannot be avoided” .

Tidal Power says it is  compiling historical data spanning the past 20 years from “all Severn Estuary survey work” and will include information on dredging and dumping areas in the Bristol Channel . It is also carrying “modelling” of tidal flows, movements of sediment and “water quality” – but does not say whether this is being done in real-time with scale models or is just a computer desk-top exercise.

Tidal Lagoon Power seems not to have any actual fishermen on it

Tidal Lagoon Power seems not to have any real fishermen on its “Fisheries Peer Review Group”

Tidal Power says it is carrying out “geophysical and oceanographic surveys”, “a Habitats Regulation Assessment”,  “Water Framework Directive screening” and bird and fish surveys.  It has also formed a “Fisheries Peer Review Group”  to be chaired by Chris Mills, the former Director of Environment Agency, Wales – but doesn’t say if it has any local fishermen on it.

The academics who have criticised the Swansea project also express concerns about the ‘jet’ effect’ of the discharge from the 16 Swansea turbines which will be a hazard for any small boats nearby. The 66 turbines planned for the Cardiff/Penarth barrage are all concentrated in two areas – both with outflows directed towards Penarth (see top illustration) and at right angles to the course vessels take when leaving and entering Cardiff Bay.

The discharge from the 66 turbines of the Cardiff Lagoon could hazard vessels entering and leaving Cardiff Bay.

The discharge from the 66 turbines of the Cardiff Lagoon could hazard vessels entering and leaving Cardiff Bay.

Meanwhile there are continuing concerns about the very high “strike price” being envisaged for the project – the price which the power companies (and ultimately the consumers)  –  would have to pay for electricity generated by tidal lagoons over something like a 35-year life of a lagoon project.

The Prime Minister has said “The problem with tidal power, simply put, is that at the moment we have not seen any ideas come forward that can hit a strike price in terms of pounds per megawatt-hour that is very attractive.”



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  1. Ron Foxton says:

    ‘Mind my words: they’re be dragons, demons and jabberwockies out there on yonder ebb and flow… ‘Tis devils work I say!’

    It does make me laugh when previously gung-ho parliamentary working parties suddenly about turn on an issue running scared with their tails between their spinning little legs. Tidal power was the great white hope a decade ago as subsidised working parties and over-annuitied think tanks struggled to come up with clever alternatives to wind farms. Tidal power is an obvious approach with vast untapped energy in the channel and could be duplicated many times around the UK with incredible results, maybe not realising the benefits for our generation but certainly the next. Positive future investment at a relatively ‘cheap’ outlay compared to the devastation that previous generations brought upon Wales through coal and steel production. Come on Cameron and cronies, get your collective arses in gear…

    Re: the fishes – does the peer group need a pier group too?

  2. Christopher David says:

    It seems to me there are a lot of reasons to question these projects in great detail. Firstly and not withstanding the Professors efficiency concerns, “we” must address the adverse affect on birds and fish. We cannot just run rough shod over our environment. But I’m also concerned that the power companies will take serious advantage of these tidal lagoons and hoist huge power costs on the consumer for years. Evidence- the Severn Bridges. The government gave the owning companies really advantageous contracts- the them. We just cannot trust politicians and civil servants to strike good contracts. They are not business people and one does sometimes wonder how far and wide the benefactors range!

  3. Lindsay says:

    You two chaps are really clued up. It’s uncanny, you speak almost as one. I hope you are both in positions which allow us all to benefit from your insight.

    • Ron Foxton says:

      Alternatively L, you could reread both comments again and decipher that we are not ‘as one’ but merely a civil partnership purely through our use of the same forum.

      My stance is: for, and please get on with it asap (you work shy bunch of non-committing drip-dry suits).

      His is: now hold on, let’s just consider this a little further (before we commit our future relatives to unknown debt and a shared room in the HMO poorhouse).


  4. Christopher David says:

    Hah – confused again eh Lindsay. Anything constructive to say? No! Always the critic never a helpful critique. Get down the chip shop 😉

  5. Lindsay says:

    Plenty of constructive stuff. Do your homework. It’s simply too tempting to bait this list of characters.

  6. Tim Hughes says:

    It is impossible to model water quality with scale models, it is almost impossible to model sediment with scale models. Computer models run effectively at full scale and are the best that can be done for what is currently required.

  7. Christopher David says:

    No bait left oh Lind de empty vessel- you’ve taken all the flies heh. So T H, as some who appears to actually know what they’re talking about what’s your prognosis?

    • Tim Hughes says:

      The suggested strike price for these is slightly higher than that agreed for Hinkley Point. What I find strange is that Penarth lies in the direction of the prevailing winds from Hinkley Point where a very very large French/Chinese nuclear reactor is being built and yet nothing is ever written about it. At the same time a Swansea based company is trying to develop lagoon based generation technology that has great potential for energy and job generation and all they get is criticism.

      • Christopher David says:

        Interesting Mr Hughes thank you. Of course a paragraph doesn’t make a book- and you cant publish a book here. I think I’ll put up a Goggle alert in this and try and get a fuller picture. Food for thought, you demonstrate the picture may be much bigger than commonly reported. Personally though I’ll stick to focusing on the areas I do know a bit about. Takes a circle of knowledge ay! What it doesn’t need is politicians doing amateur energy deals.

  8. Tom says:

    I’m worn out with all the ‘projects’ planned for this stretch of coastline. Why can’t people leave things alone?

  9. Frank (yawn) Bird says:

    Presumably the turbines can deal with the erosion of the “slurry” that is the Bristol channel? We are not exactly talking about fresh water here! Due to the massive rise and fall of the tide, the bottom of the sea bed is constantly on the move which is why the water looks “dirty”. It is dirt not necessarily pollution but mud, clay and sand from the movement of such a large body of water .

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