Environmental energy pioneer Dale Vince has blown a big hole in the controversial Cardiff/Penarth Tidal Power scheme – a scheme which would spell curtains for Penarth

A leading environmental energy producer Ecotricity has delivered a damning  critique of the proposed the Cardiff/Penarth power-generating tidal lagoon – a huge scheme which would construct a massive 40-foot-high concrete curtain across the sea-front of Penarth.

The founder of Ecotricity, Dale Vince, has called on the UK government to “resist the pressure”   to grant support for tidal lagoon schemes being promoted by Tidal Lagoon Power PLC – comprising both the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and the similar – but much larger –  Cardiff/Penarth Tidal lagoon scheme.

The 40 foot wall of the Cardiff/ Penarth Tidal Lagoon and its 90 generating turbines would be built directly in front of Penarth Pier and Penarth Esplanade. Dale Vince says it would be much better and more efficient to build such power lagoons way out to sea and not attach them to the shoreline.

In a letter to the Energy Secretary Mr Vince says it’s far better to build tidal lagoons OFFSHORE – well away from the coast – because they can “produce power at half the cost” of lagoons like Swansea Bay and Cardiff/ Penarth both of which would be ( if built)  “connected to the foreshore” and would be far less efficient.

Dale Vince also says that lagoons built out to sea have the advantage of “significantly lower environmental impact on the inter-tidal zone, as they don’t kill as much wildlife, and use less rock for construction’”.

Tim Carter and Joanna Lane of Tidal Lagoon Power made a presentation explaining the “benefits” of the Cardiff/Penarth tidal lagoon scheme to Penarth Town Council in March this year

Mr Vince also attacked the way in which the Tidal Lagoon Power PLC’s  proposals were being dealt with.  He said says We need a competitive tender and not a sweetheart deal with just one developer” . He also noted that an offshore tidal lagoon could be built at “a quarter” of the kind of costs currently being bandied about.

The hand-wringing BBC News – ever the cheerleader for coastal tidal lagoons  – said Eco-Tricity’s comments “couldn’t have come at a worse time” for  Tidal Lagoon Power PLC – the company which is promoting both the Swansea Bay and the controversial Cardiff/Penarth power lagoon project. People in Penarth may come to the opposite conclusion.



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  1. Windsor in my view says:

    Ok, thats fine to make such comments and I’m all for a better solution to many things…….but could we have a link to any studies carried out to come to Dales’s conclusions? Or is he just saying what he thinks rather than being able to back it up?

  2. Penarthur says:

    To contain the same volumes of water, a shallow (ie shore bound) lagoon would need a much longer wall than a deeper one. Simple geometry. I suspect this is what is being referred to.

    • Tim Hughes says:

      The absolute volume of water is not the issue the water could be 50m or 100m deep. The useful energy producing volume is the enclosed surface area multiplied by the tidal range, any water volume below that is wasted and produces no energy. The deeper the barrage (ie the further dopwnstream) the more rock is required and the generally lower is the tidal range.

      • Penarthur says:

        True, but having half the lagoon drying out at low tide halves the effective volume, like a triangle is half a rectangle.

      • Tim Hughes says:

        The suggestion that it would be cheaper to go offshore because the walls would be less long is incorrect. Putting the lagoon offshore would require substantially more embankment material for the same generating capacity. You would get no benefit from the coast line providing part of the lagoon periphery and as the embankments are effectively trianglular in cross sectional shape the volume of material used is proportional to the square of the depth. The advantage/cheapness of going offshore is that there is no effect on the intertidal zone so the remedial environmental works are much reduced.

  3. Clive says:

    How do 2 lagoons stack up against a Severn barrage?

  4. Yvonne Penny says:

    Damage our coastal towns, why not invest in solar power for ALL buildings.

  5. Frank Evans says:

    Did they not just sign a national grid access contract?

  6. cogan nomen says:

    I estimate that about 1 million tonnes of water
    Would pass through the turbines each half day .
    Efficient turbines would generate enough
    Electricity to supply Cardiff , Barry and Newport .
    We could also go to Cardiff and look at the pier .
    There is easier parking there !

  7. cogan nomen says:

    Sorry – meant 1 billion .

  8. Janet says:

    Would noise and vibration from the tidal turbines affect Penarth front and in particular, residents of Northcliffe and area?

    • NewsNet says:

      The answer to that question is yes – according to Tidal Power the developers. The noise levels from the 90 power generating turbines – all of which would be at the Penarth end of the Tidal Lagoon has been briefly discussed in what’s called a “Tidal Barrage Scoping Report”. This report attempts to assuage concerns about noise levels by making the tenuous claim that “Estuaries by their nature (relatively shallow with large volumes of water movements) are naturally noisy environments.” The report also refers to the land use of “popular seafront destinations such as Penarth” – thus wrongly implying that Penarth seafront itself is already noisy. The report says that following liaison with City of Cardiff Council [ but apparently not with the Vale of Glamorgan Council ] “automated noise monitoring” should be undertaken at “residential locations near to the landfall at Penarth Marina or Ferry Court” – but curiously not at Penarth Esplanade or Northcliff – which would be the areas which would be worst-affected by turbine noise.

      • Janet says:

        Thank you PDN. It’s disturbing news and I can’t believe it’s even being considered so close to Penarth. If it’s inevitable, then they should reconsider the location and move it back a few miles up the coast near the Rhumney river and away from the highly populated residential area.

      • Janet says:

        And one more thought. The continuous vibration so close to Penarth would not be good for our cliffs. Not so long ago 150 tonnes of cliff face fell onto the beach below.

    • Tim Hughes says:

      The nearest turbines are approximately 2.5km from Penarth Head and axial flow turbines are generally entirely surrounded by water. I wonder if anyone has ever heard a submarine? The sealife is of course a lot closer to the action and certainly the scheme promotors will be interested in them, but possibly no consultation. I think the reason for monitoring at the landfall points is due to the construction noise.

      • NewsNet says:

        PDN has been told that the Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report makes it crystal clear that it is not only construction noise that is to be monitored, but operational noise from the 90 turbines once they are commissioned. The nearest turbines would be located at LESS than 2.5 km from Penarth Head. Submarines do not make much noise because their propellers don’t cavitate. However all tidal lagoon turbines DO cavitate unless they’re always operating at least twice as deep underwater as the diameter of their blades. The Cardiff/Penarth Tidal Lagoon would not be able to retain its turbines at below this depth 24/7 and therefore would cavitate.

  9. Jan Harding says:

    this will ruin Penarth, please don’t do it!

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